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How to Run a Free Background Check on Yourself

Background checks are pretty common these days and are run for a variety of different reasons. Many people have been in a situation where they were required to have a background check done in order for the person or business they are dealing with to get a good idea of who they are and the history of their behavior.

While anyone these days can get online and search to find out personal information about someone via search engines and tell-tale social media pages, a real background check is so much more in-depth than that. Now-a-days, nearly every business, institution, and person you deal with on a financial or even personal level wants to know your history and what they can expect from you – and they find these answers by doing a background check.

From employers and property managers to insurance and loan companies…and even a new dating partner – it seems like everyone has a reason they want to do a background check and find out different information about you. Some are looking for financial information, others are looking to verify your education, while others want to know your driving history, or if you have been arrested. Background checks can show all of this personal information to just about anyone who searches, so you definitely want to ensure yours is completely accurate and up to date to make the best impression.

Is Your Personal Background Information Accurate?

While this background information on you is wanted to ensure you are creditworthy, an upstanding citizen, or simply to confirm that you did indeed graduate Magna Cum Laude as your resume indicates, it is important to know that background checks offer a detailed report that is very comprehensive. This means that the reports may also include personal items about yourself that you may not realize, including income, bank loans, criminal records, debts, as well as other private data.

Because of the sensitivity of this information, it is crucial that you are aware of exactly what people see when they run a background check on you. Savvy consumers want to know what details are being given out about them and what information businesses, financial institutions, and others can actually request, as there are some limitations that may apply.

Since these background checks can have a huge impact and effect on many areas of your personal and business life, it is recommended that you conduct a “do-it-yourself” (DIY) background check periodically to ensure the online records and details reflect a complete and accurate account of your history. Performing this research now and learning what others can see about you when they perform a background check, lets you prepare your online resume to pass a background test in the future.

Tips for Conducting a Free DIY Background Check on Yourself  

There are some simple steps you can take to review the information that others will see when they run a personal background check on you. In addition, there are some websites that you can visit that let you find out what information is circulating on the internet about your background that may need to be hidden from the public, corrected to be accurate, or completely removed. You just may be surprised at what you might find out about yourself!

To save money, you may consider the DIY approach for your background check. With the high-tech world we live in today, there are a variety of ways to gather information online and see everything that others can view about your history and give insight to your background. When you begin your background research and check of yourself, be prepared to find errors, omissions, and outright lies which will need to be corrected. While it is not fun to find any negative information about yourself online, you can rest assured that it can fixed with the proper documentation and by contacting the agency or organization responsible for the post.

Here are some of the different types of personal background checks you can run on yourself as well as some helpful websites that provide background information. Most institutions that require a background inquiry are very thorough and are likely to look into more than just a criminal background check, so it is smart to be prepared for them to see information about you from a variety of sources, including these:

How to Run a Free Background Check on Yourself

  • Search Engines – The quickest and most convenient way to begin a background search on yourself is to utilize internet search engines. They are free and easy to use and are a great way to get started just by entering your name. Also, be sure to do a search for any other aliases you may go by like a maiden name or previous married name. Make a note to yourself of which name variation has the information that needs to be corrected or deleted so you can resolve that issue once you have completed all of your research.
  • Social Media – Social media is the next place you should look to see what personal data or information is being broadcast online about you. Too often, we do not set our privacy settings on our social media accounts as well as we should, and unintentionally expose private information that we shouldn’t. Make it a point to view all of your social media accounts as a viewer of the page and not the owner, to see what information is available for the public to see. Check out your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts and adjust privacy settings as needed.
  • Public Records – When performing your own personal background check, do not overlook access to public records, which is very telling about a person. A simple online search can give access to a variety of personal records including marriage licenses, birth certificates, divorce decrees, trials and court appearances, death certificates, and more. While you will need to do a search for each individual record you wish to view information about, it is all there and available for free public viewing for anyone to see.
  • Internet Domain Registration – If you own or manage a website of any kind, be sure to remember that anyone can do a search to find the IP address and data for those websites to see your association. This information can typically be easily found free in a “WHOIS” look-up via any domain registration company. In addition, companies like Domaintools will help determine all of the domains a someone might be associated with, giving an insight to their background, habits, hobbies, likes, and dislikes.
  • Credit Reports – Businesses of all kinds check your credit reports to verify creditworthiness. Anyone from employers to auto insurance companies to banks and credit card companies are checking to see your score, so it is definitely a good idea to check yours often. In fact, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com today to get a copy of your credit report so that you can review it for accuracy. If there are any errors or omissions on the report, you will need to file a dispute to have the issues reviewed. They will determine the validity and make adjustments as needed. Be advised that this could take several months, so regularly monitoring of the report is crucial for good credit.
  • Insurance Reports – The insurance industry has their own industry-specific insurance screening companies that they use to determine the approval of your coverage. It is your right to receive a copy of your free specialty insurance report each year when you have coverage such as auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or personal property insurance. Simply contact the insurance company to request a copy of your report to check for accuracy.
  • Personal Medical Information – Viewing your medical specialty report is a good idea for those who intend to apply for or purchase any type of insurance policy including life insurance, health insurance, long-term care policies, or disability income insurance. Companies like MIB Group, the kind of reporting companies that the medical insurance industry and firms use to evaluate you, are also required to let you know what they are saying about you in their reports to these companies. Therefore, consumers are allowed to have one free report per year, which can be requested on their website here.
  • Social Security Number – It is a good idea to review your Social Security account periodically. This can be done on the Social Security Administration website, where you can easily see and verify all of the names that have been associated with your Social Security number over the years. This may include name changes due to marriage, divorce, and other legal name changes
  • National Sex Offender Registry –Visit the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website to check to see if your name is on the sex offender list if this is a concern to you in any way. The website allows anyone to search sex offender registries for all 50 states, The District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, and Indian Country by entering a name.
  • Driving Record – Checking your driving record is a good idea, especially if you have a career that depends on your maintaining a certain type of license or status with your state. You can request a copy of your personal driving record through your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ensure its accuracy. This can be done either online or by visiting a local office near you. It is also smart to check your driving records in any other state you may have had a driver’s license from in the last 20 years to ensure accuracy in their records.
  • Education – It is common practice for prospective employers to check your education by verifying your degree through your college or university’s records. Be prepared for this part of your background check by contacting the educational institution directly to verify that your record is accurate. In addition, you should request a copy of your transcript to keep on file for your personal records.
  • Criminal Record – Check to see if your conviction or arrest records (if any) are accurate by requesting them from the court that issued them. It is very important to know that any criminal convictions, paroles, probation, or jail time you have incurred will be reflected in this criminal background report and can be seen by others. In addition, please note that if you have been arrested within the last seven years, this may still show up on your record or background check even though there was not a conviction.
  • National Crime Information Center –The National Crime Information Center (NCIC), nicknamed the lifeline of law enforcement, assists law enforcement officers in performing their duties more safely. You can visit the National Crime Information Center website to see if your name is on the government fugitive database during your DIY background check.

Please be advised that the inclusion of your name in a negative way on any of these background reports or lists can have a major effect on your background check and can be a determining factor for several important decisions that banks, employers, landlords, and other institutions make concerning you. It is a smart decision to perform a DIY background check to avoid any issues in the future.

People Search Websites for Free Background Checks

Considering the vast amount of online resources available to investigate one’s background, it is obvious that the gathering of information can be very time-consuming. Fortunately, in addition to the websites, organizations, and resources listed above, there are several “people search” and other types of companies that specialize in background checks. These businesses were created especially to help you easily learn and identify what is in your records and online history.

If you do decide to use a background check service for your own personal background investigation, it is important to know which type of service you would like:

Types of Background Check Services:

  • Full-Service Background Check – A full-service background check is when the company does all of the investigative work for you. The company searches their online databases and may also visit courthouses to check for criminal history. They are also able to verify your past employment, education, and any other requested details.
  • DIY Background Check – A do-it-yourself background check can be done via websites that allow you to conduct online searches of your own and provide you with instant results. The online background check websites are typically inexpensive and very easy to use, offering instant results and plenty of background details.

Websites such as BeenVerified, TruthFinder, and Intelius are examples of companies that do the investigative work for you by gathering digital information quickly from public records that are readily available These free search options on the website will include background information on you such as:

  • Aliases
  • Cities and States Lived In
  • Age
  • Known Relatives
  • Social network profiles

These background checking companies offer dynamic search engines that allow you to find the information you are looking for via a search by simply entering a name, address, or phone number, for instant results. No matter what type of information you wish to find out about yourself, the search engines quickly gather and organize the data from public records, police records, social media, civil judgments, and white pages into an easy-to-read format to give you the requested background information and history you require on yourself.

If you find that  you need to expand the search for background information on yourself, details such as addresses and phone numbers can be found free of charge at websites such as Spokeo, US Search, and WhitePages which allows you to look up all the addresses that are associated with your name and/or Social Security number by performing a simple search.

In addition to the information available on these sites via a free search, each website also gives you the option to view a more complete background profile of yourself for a fee. If you find that there is a need for any type of additional verification of the information found while doing your self-background check, it may make sense to utilize one of the affordable paid service companies to investigate your background.

These companies offer an affordable alternative to tiresome research that not only saves you time, but offers a comprehensive background check that is reliable with access to credible, verifiable data for your search. Quickly and easily find information such as:

  • Public Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Reverse Phone Lookup
  • People Search
  • Email Search
  • Reverse Address Lookup
  • Background Check
  • Arrest Records
  • Sex Offenses
  • Details on Arrests and Plea Deals
  • Bankruptcies
  • Civil Legal Judgments
  • Marriage Records
  • Social Security Number Verification

 

Benefits of Using a Background Check Company

While there are plenty of resources available online to perform a free background check on yourself, sometimes getting the help of experts in the field is the right solution. Here are some good reasons to use an established company for your own personal background check.

  • Affordable – Background screening companies offer affordable services with access to several levels of information discovery.
  • Safe – Access from reputable companies get you the needed information quickly, allowing you to promptly access what needs to be done to keep your personal information safe and sound.
  • Private – All background checks and searches you perform are completely private with the utmost of confidentiality
  • Access – Background searches provide access to over 20 billion public records and the best and most detailed information available online as well as from other resources including courthouse documents, former employers, and educational institutions.

How to Choose the Right Background Check Service for Your Personal Background Check

There are a variety of different background check services available today, so it may be difficult to decide which one is the best choice for you.  Here are a few tips to consider when looking for the right background service company for your needs.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Background Check Service

  • Does this service offer the ability to provide all of the information I need for my personal background check?
  • Is the cost of the service affordable to me?
  • Does the company offer an easy to use online portal that you can access to order searches and review the results?
  • How quickly am I able to access the search results?
  • How will I receive my search results? Are the reports clear, accurate, and complete?

Savvy Consumers Know What Is in Their Background Report

It is a good idea to do a periodic background check on yourself to see exactly what information others may have access to when conducting an investigation into your credit history, educational background, or criminal past. It is a great way to ensure that your reputation is protected, and you don’t lose any opportunities due to incorrect or outdated information that shows up in your background check.

Once you receive the results of your background check, be sure to examine the information thoroughly and promptly make request any necessary corrections if there are any issues with accuracy. Following these tips will help you run a successful, free online background check on yourself and know exactly where you stand.

 

 

How to Get a Real Estate License in 2019

Selling real estate is a popular and lucrative profession for many people across the U.S. The rules vary from state to state about the requirements for obtaining a professional real estate license, so it is important to decide where you would like to assist people with buying and selling properties to ensure that you are licensed with the proper state or states in which you intend to start your new career in real estate.

Here are the typical state requirements for becoming a licensed real estate agent in the U.S:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be a legal resident of the US
  • Completion of required pre-license real estate school classes
  • Successfully take and pass the state real estate license exam
  • Background check and fingerprinting
  • Sponsorship by a licensed broker

It is also helpful to be familiar with the term real estate agent versus Realtor® and to know that not every real estate agent is in fact, a Realtor®. While both must be licensed to assist people in buying and selling properties, the Realtor® title is only given to real estate agents that are also a member of the National Association of Realtor’s. Most new real estate agents find that it is advantageous to become a member of the association, which is explained more in detail later.

Why You Need a Real Estate License

All states require you to be a licensed real estate salesperson or real estate broker to represent buyers and sellers who want to buy or sell a home.

Real estate licenses are issued by the government of each individual state. The state real estate license allows you to represent buyers and sellers in all legal real estate property transactions. To become a licensed real estate agent in your state, you must first be able to meet the state eligibility requirements, which are listed above, and may vary from state-to-state. When you are certain you qualify, you must then take all of the approved pre-licensure classes, successfully pass the real estate agent exam, find a broker to sponsor you, then finally apply to the state’s governing real estate board for approval and licensing. After approval, most new agents join the National Association of Realtors to add the prestigious title of to their credentials, which also gives real estate agents the following perks:

Perks of Being a Licensed Realtor®

  • Increases your earnings
  • Real estate software
  • Gives you access to the multiple listing service (MLS) to view all homes available for sale
  • Shows your credibility and helps you gain trust with clients and investors

How to Get a Real Estate License

From pre-licensing courses to continuing education classes, the more you know about real estate in your state, the more successful and lucrative your career as a real estate salesperson or real estate broker will be. Although each state does have different classes and hour requirements, many follow these general rules about how to become a licensed real estate agent. Here are the necessary steps needed to teach you how to get a real estate license in 2019.

A Successful Career in Real Estate Starts Here 

The cost of real estate school and continuing education classes and requirements differ from state to state, so make sure you check costs for the pre-licensing real estate school classes, registration to sit for the real estate license exam, and the application fee for the license so you will know exactly what to expect. New agents should be aware that they will be required to seek a real estate broker to sponsor them as they are getting started in their new career, which is typically a requirement for new real estate agents. You can find important information about the necessary sponsorships and other important details from the real estate commission website for your state.

The cost of real estate classes varies by state and institution but typically ranges somewhere between $350 to $1,000. The cost varies due to the number of course hours required from each state that is needed to sit for the state real estate licensing exam. Here are some typical costs involved with obtaining your real estate license:

Costs Associated with Obtaining Your Real Estate License

  • Pre-licensing Education at Real Estate School – $200 to $1,000
  • Real Estate Exam Registration – $25 to $100
  • Real estate License Application – $75 to $175

Additional expenses might include any state-required items like background checks and fingerprinting, as well as test preparation classes and guides, which can also vary in cost in each state. Those who are interested in becoming a Realtor® should be prepared to pay organization fees to the National Association of Realtors which are $150 annually.

Real Estate Courses – Pre-Licensing

To prepare for your real estate license, you must first take the pre-licensing classes needed to prepare real estate agents for the exam. All states require that these courses be taken before you can even think about registering for the exam. It is to be noted that each state’s required pre-licensing hours can vary greatly and range from 60 to 150 hours, so please plan you real estate coursework accordingly.

These professional courses provide a wealth of information to prepare you for a new career in real estate with classes that explain the important aspects of being a real estate agent  including:

  • Contracts
  • Titles
  • Real Estate Investments
  • Deeds
  • Fair Housing Laws
  • Finance and Mortgages
  • Real Estate Law
  • Real Estate Appraisal

…and more.

In addition, there are additional courses designed to teach you about your specific state as well as all federal real estate laws and regulations.

Choosing a Real Estate School

When it comes to selecting a real estate school, it is important to choose one that offers a state-approved pre-licensing course. Most states allow for convenient, online coursework for your real estate pre-licensing courses, including Arizona, Delaware, North and South Carolina, Idaho, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Rhode Island. It is recommended that you take the online courses if your state offers them due to the fact that not only is it more affordable, but it is also so much more convenient.

Once you have chosen a state-approved real estate pre-licensing course, you can either register online to enroll or visit the school’s website along with the state’s real estate commission website for information, courses, location, cost, and other important enrollment information you will need to be aware of.

Preparing for the Real Estate License Exam

You can sit for the state real estate licensing exam when you have completed the real estate pre-licensing courses and successfully passed the final exam for the course of study. You’re your time and ensure you know the materials and take the test when you feel like you have studied and are completely prepared to sit for the final exam. This can be scheduled online via your state’s real estate commission website.

You will be scheduled for the exam when you have completed the online registration with the state, and will receive notification of your exam time, location, and date. Be sure to schedule your real estate license exam as soon as you can after the completion of your real estate school classes, because most states require that the exam be taken within a certain number of days of completing your coursework.

The exam will be timed, so be prepared to answer the test questions quickly, yet efficiently. Make it a point to answer the questions you are certain of and come back later to any that you are not sure of. This allows a higher percentage of correct answers on the exam. You will be notified about your test results online or via mail, depending on your state’s preference.

If you fail the exam, this may be frustrating, however, don’t fret, because you are allowed to retake the real estate exam. You can register to retake the test a mere 24 hours after notification of failure to pass the course. In addition, you can take the exam up to three times each year. Feel free to visit your state’s real estate commission website to register or to get more information.

You’ve Passed the Real Estate Exam – Here’s What to Expect Next

You are now well on your way to becoming a licensed real estate agent. Once you have successfully taken the real estate exam and passed, most states require that new real estate agents find a broker to sponsor you.

Having a broker sponsor you gives you the hands-on training and experience needed to be successful in the industry. It is recommended that in order to successfully find a sponsor that is a good fit for you, make time to review brokers in your area and schedule sponsorship interviews with each of them. Here are some questions you should be prepared to ask your potential broker during the interview:

Interview Questions a New Real Estate Agent Should Ask their Prospective Sponsors

  • Commission Split – Since most real estate agents get paid on commission, it is important to know that you will be splitting the commissions with your broker. There are several different types of commission structures, so be sure to discuss and possibly negotiate a commission split that satisfies your needs.
  • Support and Culture – There are many variations of types of brokerage firms, so look for the style that suits you best. While some brokers offer extensive mentoring and free training and marketing opportunities, others simply offer an office to call home while you grow your real estate business. Ask questions to help determine if the broker offers what you are looking for.
  • Fees and Other Costs – Make it a point to ask the real estate brokers you are interested in working with about any fees and other costs that are associated with their company. Do your research to ensure that the fees are common in the industry. Such costs may include desk fees, printer and copier fees, transaction fees, insurance, and more.

Doing your homework and asking these important questions will not only help you learn about each broker and their pertinent company information, but it will also help you make an educated decision and choose a broker that is a good fit for your goals. Having a broker that you will enjoy working and mentoring with makes all the difference.

It is important to note that new agents must have a sponsoring broker before the application for a license can even be submitted to your state’s real estate commission. After you have chosen a sponsoring broker and have a signed sponsorship agreement to submit, you are ready to submit the agreement and application for your license to the real estate board. It can take anywhere from a couple of weeks up to a few months for the application to be approved, depending on your state’s period of consideration. When the board has approved your real estate license, most states send out an email confirmation, followed by the license and official approval letter in the mail.

I’m a Licensed Real Estate Agent, Now What?

You have passed your real estate exam, secured an agreement with a sponsoring broker, and have received notice of the approval of your license – so it is time to get to work helping people buy and sell homes! Here are a few tips to help you get started in your new career as an agent.

  • Join Industry Associations – It is crucial for your career in real estate to join the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as soon as you can. The NAR is the largest professional association for real estate agents in the U.S. While becoming a member is not a requirement to buy and sell real estate, it is required to list properties and have access to the Multiple Listing Service. In addition, the NAR offers a variety of agency resources, including valuable networking opportunities, real estate software, continuing education resources, and a special designation among agents. To join the National Association of Realtors, visit their website for the application, and pay the annual membership dues of $150.
  • Create a Website – Real estate agents will need a website of their own. It is important to plan for the expense of having a website designed for your new career in real estate in addition to the one your agency has. Maintaining your own business website allows you to create your own brand and get your name out there. This includes choosing a domain name, designing a logo, finding a website host, selecting a theme, and ensuring you are connected to a hosting company with IDX capabilities, which allows you to connect to the MLS so your website visitors can easily search the available property listings for sale.
  • Select a Contact Relationship Manager – As a real estate agent, you will need a customer relationship management (CRM). This is a type of software that helps you keep track of your leads and organize clients from first contact all the way through to the closing. Choosing a good CRM allows you to stay organized and engaged with your client leads and track the progress you have made with them as clients. Look for a good free CRM to get started and graduate to a paid service once you have clients. Make sure that your new CRM is easy to use with popular features to keep you as efficient as possible.

Maintaining Your Real Estate License and Keeping an Active Status

Just about every state requires a real estate salesperson to renew their real estate license every two to four years. This requires continuing education courses in real estate to make sure you are up to date with any new laws, rules, or regulations. Your state real estate commission website can provide the necessary requirements for maintaining your real estate license and keeping it in an active status.  In addition, members of NAR can find useful information about requirements and continuing education courses in your area.

Your Career as a Licensed Agent

From required pre-licensing courses needed to pass the state real estate exam to finding a sponsoring broker, and creating a new brand, there are many things a prospective new real estate agent must do to prepare themselves for a successful career in real estate.

Savvy potential real estate salespeople begin by learning all of their state’s licensing requirements about how to get a real estate license. They then make a professional plan from there to complete real estate school for the required pre-licensing classes, pass the licensing exam, find a broker to sponsor them, and secure their real estate license for a successful career in the real estate industry.