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Private Investigator Background Check


Private Investigator Background Check

If you are considering getting a private investigator background check on someone you will want to know the ins and outs of what to expect. You will want to ensure you get an accurate background check and not just some information gleaned from a Facebook profile. Pay for a cheap background check and you will get what you've paid for; a few details that you probably already knew.

This type of private investigation service is extensively used in businesses but personal use has soared in the wake of internet dating and romance scams. Unfortunate as it is, background checks have become essential.

We're going to tell what a background check actually is, what information you can expect to receive in a private investigator's background check service, the costs and different types of background checks done by a private investigator that they can be hired for. Also, we will go over the difference between a private investigator background check versus online background checking service and what the limitations and legalities are.

What Is a Private Investigator Background Check?

A background check (also known as background screening), in simple terms, is to check the identity and credentials of someone. A background check's purpose is to prove or disprove the accuracy and truth of who someone is, what they are telling you, what they have done and what they get up to. It's very easy today for someone to hide or mask their true identity and their true intentions. We live in an age where even neighbors are strangers, despite having lived next to each other for years. It is the background investigator's job to unearth the fakery.

Depending on the situation or reason for checking someone out, will determine the thoroughness and how detailed the background investigation should be. In some instances, it may not be necessary for a private investigator background check, if for what you want one for is not that sensitive or serious. A simple online check may suffice. However, if you have a fortune and want to protect your family, assets, business, public reputation, etc. then a fully trained background check investigator will be necessary to dig down deep.

Private Investigator Versus Online Company Background Check

Important note: online background checking companies generally only use databases to search someone's background whereas a private investigator can be asked to do personal visits if required. The old saying, "Actions Speak Louder Than Words", is important to point out here. A private investigator is trained in surveillance techniques that can be used for a real-time boots-on-the-ground check of an individual and what they get up to.

What Information Shows Up in a PI Background Check?

A background check private investigator will utilise many sources and resources to build a complete profile of a person of interest or subject of inquiry. Information provided in a background screening investigation can encompass the following areas:

  • Checking the identity of an individual
  • Personal and character references
  • Checking employment / employment history
  • Checking education qualifications
  • Special licenses
  • Reference checks
  • Arrest / criminal / court records
  • Sex offender checks
  • Military records
  • Medical checks
  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Financial status / credit reports
  • Property/asset ownership

Also, depending on the type of background check, a private investigator can conduct surveillance on an individual over a period of time. This can establish a "snap-shot" of conduct - useful in seeing how someone reacts to everyday situations and life. Are they helpful? Are they friendly? Or are they not.

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Types of Private Investigator Background Check Services

Private investigator background check services are done for a variety of reasons and for a variety of individuals and organizations. But before going into the different types of background screening services by private investigators and the reasons for using them, it's good to know that there are two approaches when checking someone out. These approaches are Overt and Covert background investigations. What's the difference?


  • Overt: Overt (out in the open, not hidden) background screening will be carried out with the FULL knowledge of the subject that the check is being done upon. The subject will usually have signed a consent form, giving authority to ask for and obtain personal information about them. This type is generally conducted for screening pre-employment applications or employees.

  • Covert: Covert (hidden, not revealed) checks will be done by a background check investigator without the knowledge of the subject. This is a clandestine background investigation done usually for pre-nuptial, online dating, potential business partnerships, or situations you wouldn't want the person to know.


Depending on the circumstances will determine the approach that is taken. But bear in mind, if the subject is aware of impending checks and if they have criminal intent, the chances are they will strike first, or with a bit of luck, promptly leave the scene. Here are some of the different types of background checks done by private investigators:

Personal background checks

This service is simply checking out who someone is, or is about to associate with, on a personal level. Examples of this type of personal background screening is for pre-dating or dating - finding out more about an online date; or, a pre-nuptial background check where significant finances, property and assets are at stake. An individual background check on a potential spouse could save thousands later on. This type of check can be done with the partner's knowledge or not.

Employment / employee background check

This is as it states, a background check for employment; checking the details, past employment history and records of potential employees. Pre-employment background checks are an integral part of the hiring process in companies: particularly those that deal in highly sensitive work and information.

Employee background screening services by private investigators are usually done with the full consent of the applicant and before any contracts of employment are signed. Potential candidates for high-powered positions go through the process of having their full work history, education and qualifications scrutinized in case they fraudulently acquire a position with pay they are not qualified for. Likewise, in the lower ranks of the workforce, background screening and employment history background checks ensure a business gets what it has asked for.

Company background checks

A private investigator background search service on a company or business, checks to see if a business is what it is and not just a fake front held up with clever lies. This type of check - done on the business itself and not an individual - is beneficial when takeovers, buyouts, or impending business purchases are contemplated. The company assets, records and materials are scrutinized for their veracity, to ensure the buyer is not being deceived by a con-artist or fraudsters fluffing up a failing business.

Apart from inspecting the actual company records, the investigator will also focus on the owners and directors of the company. For this type of background check the private investigator will usually have the added skill in forensic accounting or business accounting to make sure the numbers add up.

Nanny background check

If you are in a position of having to employ a nanny or au-pair to help look after your children, it will be most advisable to get a nanny background check. There are companies that specialize in hiring out nannies, au-pairs and home helpers and as a matter of course perform their own nanny background checks.

However, it is important to know that when you hire a private investigator - who will conduct the usual checks - that you can also ask them to install a hidden spy camera, or nanny cam as they are known. This camera will record the nanny with your child, giving you first-hand knowledge of how they treat your child when you are away.

Tenant background checks

Being a landlord, you are trusting your property into the hands of total strangers. Using the services of private investigator to do a background check on a potential tenant can give you a feeling of security. Nothing is worse than a tenant doing a disappearing act with rent owed, or gutting the property, selling the fixtures and fittings, or even using the property as a brothel. A renter background check should be done before any lease agreement is signed and most definitely before any keys are handed over.

How Much Does A Private Investigator Background Check Cost?

The cost of background checks by private investigators vary widely. There are different pricing factors involved when considering what type of report you need and where to get one. Generally speaking though, using a professional private investigator to conduct a background check can cost an average of $300 per application.

  • Online Database Reports: a simple database background report can cost you anywhere from $50-$200.
  • Deep Background Investigation: a deep background investigation can cost anywhere upwards of $1200.

Some things to consider when looking at the costs of private investigator background screening services are:

  • What does the background check consist of - how detailed is the check and what questions/information is searched.
  • What online sources or databases will be used - what are the sources where the information will be searched.
  • Are the databases up-to-date and the information current - what is the frequency of updates or to what extent is the information up-to-date.
  • Is it just an online check or are there physical checks/visits carried out as well - PI companies can do both online database checks, including email contacting and phone calls, as well as physical boots-on-the-ground checks for deeper investigations.
  • Where is the company located - location of the investigation company performing the background investigation usually determines how much you will pay, particularly if the background service requires physical location checks.
  • What background check pricing options are there - the investigation company may offer various tiers of background screening services at different prices.
  • Level of importance - what is the purpose of the check and how important is it to get the maximum amount of the most current information possible.

The last point comes down to you and what you are willing to spend for the best background check that you're willing to pay for. Cheap is not always poor quality and expensive is not always the best. The price for an online background search company versus a private investigator's costs for a background check can vary significantly: a private investigator's being more expensive if conducting physical checks an online company won't do.

Should You Do Your Own Background Checks?

Doing your own background check is a risky game. It's not just a case of checking out someone's social media accounts; there's so much more. You could do your own private checks - in part - but in many countries and States it is a legal requirement to possess certain licenses, such as a consumer credit license or a PI license, to perform credit checks and other related background activities.

There are laws to follow; by state and by country. A Texas private investigator may have different state background checking laws to adhere to than a private investigator in Massachusetts. There are data protection laws that need to be followed when obtaining, collecting, storing and passing on personally identifiable information.

A background check investigator will usually be aware of the laws governing this type of work. This ensures they conduct their background investigations legally and stay on the right side of the law.

Another point is that background search companies and private investigators, as a part of their business, subscribe to quality information service providers, used to conduct database background checks. These database subscriptions are not cheap.

I Want a Private Investigator Background Check: What Now?

If you are a business, particularly high risk, then consider as part of your hiring process some kind of background screening service. If you are an individual then consider it an option, particularly if a parent leaving your child with a babysitter or nanny. If you are a property owner with tenants then, as a renting business, would be advisable to get a private investigator background check done on your tenants.

Not all private investigators offer background check services so you will have to ask at the beginning stages before hiring them. If you want to hire a private investigator for a background check, search our directory for an investigator.

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