A background check shows identifying information, credit report contents, employment history, university degrees, driving history, public records, and/or criminal records, depending on the situation. If you authorize a potential employer or other party to run a background check on you, you can ask what area(s) the background check will focus on.
One of the best ways to make sure a background check goes smoothly is by checking your credit report regularly. Since many items that show up in a background check can be traced back to your credit report, correcting any mistakes there can go a long way. You can check your TransUnion credit report for free through your WalletHub account.
Things that can show up on a background check include:
Identifying information. When someone runs a background check on you, they can see identifying information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, and physical address. This information is used to verify that you are who you say you are.
Credit history. When a potential employer runs a pre-employment search on your credit, the contents of your credit report (including tradelines, credit inquiries and identifying information) will be revealed. Employers may want to see how you manage credit if it’s relevant to the position, and too many credit inquiries or significant account balances can signal recklessness.
Employment history. When you apply for a job, employment history verification may be used by your potential employer to match your employment history to what you reported on your job application. This verification will also confirm details such as dates of employment, salary, job function, and termination rationale (if applicable).
University degrees. Similar to employment history verification, an education background check can confirm any degrees you list on your resume.
Public record. Any items included on your public record, such as bankruptcy, will also show up through a background check.
Criminal record. A background check can show criminal offenses at both the state and federal level. Convictions (felony and misdemeanor), pending charges, and any jail time will all show up in a criminal history check. Depending on your state’s laws, previous arrests can also show up, but juvenile records do not.