You may be:
- Considering hiring them (employee, nanny, caregiver, etc.)
- Considering renting a room or house to them
- Considering living with them (potential roommate)
- Dating them
- Suspicious about a neighbor or other person you have contact with
In the old days, you'd spend hours digging through public records to find information on somebody or do a background check (or hire somebody to do it for you). Now, you can use an online database which keeps track of public records for you. These sites generally have a lot of information (most of which comes from public records) and charge a small fee to access it.
One of the bigger sites that I like is called Intelius. This site will let you search for people using a variety of variables (name, SSN, etc.). They'll also let you do instant background checks and criminal checks on people.
These sites are a huge time saver when you're looking for information. However, many us don't like having our public records easily available for anybody who wants them. And sadly, it's not always easy to have yourself removed from these databases.
Intelius does allow you to have your own records removed if you like. You just have to fax them valid proof of your identity (like a drivers license). However, after removal, you may find yourself back in the database as new public records are added to it. So, you'll either have to continually ask to be removed or have your public records sealed.
Technology is one of those double edged swords. While extremely helpful and valuable, modern technology has also resulted in a near total loss of privacy. Thanks to the Obama administration, even your medical records aren't private anymore.
For more information about background checks, click here.