A Google Search is Not a Background Check

article by Nicky Hoseck
May 20, 2019

Google is the undeniable king of search engines and many of us believe the Google world is our oyster, giving us access to every bit of data and byte of information. In most respects, this is true, but when it comes to finding out what skeletons a date, neighbor, or roommate may have stashed in their closets, Google is sadly lacking.

Certainly, a Google search will reveal some things about an individual, but it won’t be as comprehensive, accurate, or reliable as a background check service like BeenVerified, for example. Having done a Google search on my own very unusual name, much of the information was correct, until I was told I have an address and telephone number in Oregon. I’ve heard of Oregon but I’ve never been anywhere near the actual state itself, which is indicative of the kind of inaccuracies that occur when using Google search to perform tasks it wasn’t designed for.

Unfortunately, similar problems can thwart your job prospects. Although employers should make use of FCA-approved Credit Reporting Agencies when screening potential job candidates, they often use services like Google as well. This can have some unpleasant consequences for applicants and particularly for one Pete Kistler who struggled to find employment despite his near-perfect GPA. Why? Because a Google search brought up the criminal history of another Pete Kistler who made his living selling drugs.

Of course, you wouldn’t use a background check service to find a potential employee because that’s illegal, however, accuracy is as important whether you’re checking out a job applicant or potential hot date. Google goes so far but it can’t go any further for the simple reason that public records like court documents, traffic violations and the like may be public, but you usually need to log in and potentially even pay for access.

The best online background check services like TruthFinder delve into the murky depths beyond Google, accessing court records, property information, and criminal history. In other words, going where search engines fear to tread. Although over 80% of Americans have used Google at some point or another to dig up information about another person, nearly half admit that the information they accessed about themselves using the same approach was inaccurate.

What Google Can Do For You

A Google search will turn up some information that may prove useful when it comes to assessing a person’s suitability as a possible roommate or making sure your hot date are who they say they are. Google will usually generate the following results from a basic people search, in other words, what you get if you enter a person’s first and last names.

The first page of a Google search will usually reveal a person’s date of birth and address. Obviously, that’s not going to tell you whether your new next door neighbor is a reliable house-sitter or not, but it will mean they can confirm that the person they’ve pinpointed is the same one that’s just moved in down the street.

Depending on how active a person is online will affect how much discoverable information is available. Someone who shares everything from where they work to their favorite flavor of ice cream will obviously be a lot more rewarding to Google than someone like my Dad who avoids social media like the plague. Nevertheless, the lack of a social media profile can be a bit of a red flag if you’ve just met someone on an online dating site. After all, if they can use Match.com, they can use Facebook too.

One of the great things about social media is that you should be able to get some idea of a person’s attitude to work, hobbies, and social activities, enabling you to decide whether or not this is a person with enough common interests and perspectives that it’s worth pursuing a relationship with them.

The Places Google Fears To Tread

Unfortunately, not everyone presents a truthful version of themselves online and while Facebook and other social media profiles may show up in a Google search, they won’t necessarily tell you the truth. According to a report published in 2012, around a quarter of all Facebook users falsify information on their profile for a variety of reasons. If that’s true of Facebook, imagine how many other lies are just waiting for you to unearth them on a search engine!

The best people searches will reveal a wealth of information that you won’t find on LinkedIn or Facebook, including data contained in federal and state court records, property, and marriage records. While this information is publicly accessible, much of it is password-protected and requires a small payment to access. This information won’t show up on a Google search or, if it does, it will take you weeks to navigate and sift through, but a background check company will scour through them on your behalf.

A people search or comprehensive background check report from a company such as Truthfinder or BeenVerified will include the following information:

  • Full name, date of birth, address, current address
  • Likely relatives and known associates
  • Criminal and civil records and courting proceedings
  • Credit history, including bankruptcies
  • Professional and educational background
  • Social media profiles, blogs, and websites

A background check service like PeopleLooker consolidates the information it collects into a single report, sifting through the data and removing what’s not relevant. This includes information about other people with the same name. A Google search won’t do this, so you may end up with an amalgamation of snippets of information about several different people who have nothing to do with the person you’re researching, leaving you with an inaccurate and confusing picture.

Similarly, the best public records search engine will cross-check their results to ensure the accuracy of their report. Background check services already have access to a range of information sources which they tap into thousands of times a day so, where cross-referencing and verifying the information you’ve gather independently could take weeks, companies like BeenVerified will have a complete report ready for you within minutes.

Some background check services, like PeopleLooker, even delve into the Deep Web to extract data from behind passwords and paywalls. Google can’t access the Deep or the Dark Web, but a background check company can, and what they can reveal will shock you:

  • Government reports and confidential legal documents
  • Online shopping wish lists
  • Academic papers
  • Scientific databases
  • Subscription-accessed content

Benefits of Using a Background Check Service

The range and scope of the information trawled by the best background check services is only one of their many benefits:

  • Ease of use – information from a range of sources is combined in a single, easy-to-read report
  • Accuracy – some companies like PeopleLooker offer a 100% money-back guarantee should your results not match the person you’re researching
  • User-friendly apps – search on the go using a mobile background check app
  • Customer support – find your way around online background check services with handy tutorials and guides
  • Flexibility – opt for a one-off people search or a three-month subscription and pay using a debit or credit card, PayPal, AmazonPay or a range of other online payment possibilities.

Conclusion

Google is a powerful search engine but it can only get you so far into a person’s past as it can’t give you access to information that is password-protected or requires payment, like a number of court and civil records. Not only does Google have limited search capabilities, but it also has no way to cross-reference or verify the results, meaning that you could end up with a collection of unrelated facts about people you have no interest in.

In most instances, a Google search will produce some information about a person, especially if they’re active on social media, but this is rarely enough to base an important decision on, so, if you’re wanting to check that the love potential you’ve been chatting with online is safe to meet for a first date, a background check is much more reliable and informative than a Google search.

Similarly, if you’re worried that your new next door neighbor has too many suspicious, late-night visitors, a background check service like PeopleLooker could reveal a nefarious criminal history or several decades of purely innocent late-night cookie-munching competitions! Unlikely, but you just never know!

When it comes to putting your trust in someone or placing yourself in a potentially vulnerable position, a Google search won’t give you enough accurate information to make an informed decision, which is why one of the best background check services is a better alternative.

Find out for sure if your next date will be with a law-abiding office worker or an unemployed ex-convict with a penchant for dressing up as a pony. After all, life’s too short and too precious to waste or risk on unsuitable prospective partners.