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How The Internet Has Changed The Background Check

  • November 08, 2007
  • by PInow Staff

Background checks predate the internet by many decades. In the seventeenth centuries and earlier, when people tended to live in the same place over time, a background check might have consisted of a letter of introduction. A new employee or a new friend might have given his or her credentials by presenting a letter from someone credible. In the nineteenth century, greater mobility and larger cities made it harder for people to determine who could be trusted and who should be avoided. It's no surprise, then, that the nineteenth century saw the birth of Sherlock Holmes and the PI industry.

In the earlier 20th century, detectives conducted background checks by checking into court documents and, in some cases, by questioning people who knew the person being investigated. Today, though, there are many databases of personal information online. For PIs, the Internet means:

1) More work.

There are multiple databases online, all purporting to offer background check information. Unfortunately, finding the most reliable sources and then hand-checking them for accuracy is time-consuming. One problem with online background check databases of information is that the information has to be entered into a computer. Many errors sneak into the material during the data entry stage and some confusion over similar names leads to a high rate of error.

2) Less focus on locality.

Thanks to the Internet, PIs can technically access material from across the country or even around the world at the touch of a button. They can access databases around the clock, even when the courts are closed. Although the information still needs to be hand-checked for accuracy, investigative professionals can still get started on a case instantly.

3) More competition.

There are lots of services promising to give customers free background checks or instant checks for a fee. Many customers who at one time might have gone to a PI are now heading online to run background checks. This is unfortunate since these people are not always aware of accuracy issues and may end up accepting incorrect information at face value. This means that PIs must work harder to secure these customers and inform them of the problems with online background checks.

4) More ways of getting information.

Online background checks are not the only ways of getting information online. Thanks to the Internet, PIs now have an arsenal of potential information online. Social networking sites are a great way to get information. Individuals who set up sites on MySpace or Facebook often share very personal information online information that can be very useful during a background check. Even a quick Google search on a name can yield past addresses, employment information and other facts about someone. Net-savvy PIs can often get free and important background information without paying for an online check. This information can be used to supplement the information gathered from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the courthouse.

To be successful in the 21st-century private investigators must understand the vast resources available on the internet, know which databases are available to them and they must work harder to obtain accurate information. To find a pre-screened, local private investigator, visit

About ( is a Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators that enables law firms, corporations, and the general public to find investigators anywhere. strives to be the most trusted resource on the web to locate qualified investigators. All investigators listed on are pre-screened and must meet specific listing requirements. was developed by the team that brought you the Process Servers Directory (

Visit to find investigators who can help with all your investigation needs.

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