Obtaining a Criminal Background Check

By Dawn Marcotte , last updated July 20, 2011

Obtaining a criminal background check can be done in several ways depending on the reason and needs for the check. The FBI can provide a federal background check, states may provide statewide checks and local police departments can provide state and local background criminal record checks. Credit reporting companies can also provide basic criminal history for a fee.

Why Get a Criminal Background Check
There are several reasons for individuals to request a background criminal check. Traveling, working or living abroad is one reason individuals may need to provide proof of no criminal record. Individuals who are trying to get employment and are turned down due to an error on a credit report that indicates they have a criminal record may need to obtain a corrected record to submit to the credit reporting company. Some businesses have licensing that requires a background check for all employees. These are just some of the reasons businesses and individuals may need to request a criminal background check.
Federal Criminal Background Check
Obtaining a federal criminal background check will require the individual to provide fingerprints to the FBI. These fingerprints can be done at a local police station and then submitted to the FBI. Only the individual can request a federal criminal background check and the request must be submitted directly to the FBI. Employers or businesses that need to satisfy licensing requirements cannot make this request directly to the FBI. Individuals, who want to travel internationally, adopt internationally or to challenge information on record can make this type of request. Submit your request in writing directly to the FBI.
State and Local Criminal Background Check
Many states have a system for providing background checks to individuals, employers and government agencies that might need this information. Individuals should contact their state police for details on how to request a criminal background check. This check will often require giving the organization a social security number rather than just a name or it may require a set of fingerprints taken by local police. Some states charge a fee for this service. Local police departments can also run a background check for individuals upon request. The request may need to be made in person, rather than in writing or online and in some places a court hearing is required. These checks may also require fingerprints.
Credit Checks
Many of the companies that provide credit reports include a criminal background check as part of the process. These companies charge various fees according to the level of detail of the report. Anyone can request a credit report for a legitimate business reason. Individuals can request an annual credit report for themselves for free.
Obtaining a criminal background check is not difficult. It is important to have a professional take the fingerprints to ensure they are accurate and easy to read. Police and other law enforcement agencies often will provide this service at no cost or with a minimal fee. Submit the fingerprints with name and any other requested information to the agency and they will provide an accurate background check.
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