More and more employers are doing criminal background checks on job applicants, but consumers in general may have recourse to these. Landlords may want to do criminal background checks and eviction case checks on prospective tenants. Consumers may want to do criminal checks on businessmen they have to deal with, such as contractors. Even potential love interests may be a target for an investigation. Sites offer business and government several means of searching criminal records. Knowing if a contractor or domestic worker has a criminal record is important. These searches are quick and inexpensive, but not always totally accurate. Experts say the nationwide searches are often full of holes, and contain as few as 70 percent of all felony conviction records. Spotty participation by the nation's 3,100 county courts can make records inaccurate. ChoicePoint Inc. announced in February 2005, that thieves had stolen personal dossiers on 145,000 U.S. citizens. Similar problems happened with other criminal background check businesses. ChoicePoint acquired another similar business in 2004 called, Rapsheets, which advertises on the Internet. Though much of the data provided by Rapsheets is the most complete and up to date information available instantly on the Internet, the service provided here does not always substitute for an in-person courthouse search of criminal records. It's difficult to get enough criminal background check information on a limited budget. Balancing these needs is challenging in the complex arena of criminal background checks and volunteer organizations. Keeping convicted predators and other felons away from children, while maintaining some standards of fairness and a budget, is not easy. Sexual predator registries, even where they exist may not be accessible in every case.
Firms such as ChoicePoint sell inexpensive national crime database search tools to volunteer organizations. Its VolunteerSelect.com service has done over one million searches since the site launched in 2002. However, the only one way to conduct a thorough criminal background check is to search computer-based nationwide records and make in-person visits to county courthouses to look at criminal record information.
Criminal background check websites admit on their sites that a database search has its limitations and should always be used along with policies that help to protect children. Other similar sites are looking into selling background checks of people's neighbors or potential love interests. The advice give is that, if people get a criminal background check and think their problem is solved, they are fooling themselves.