Private Investigators In Virginia

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National Criminal Background Check–Doh!

Posted by Bill on November 20, 2007

Private investigators and other security companies are often asked to conduct a national criminal records search.  The research may be associated with an employment matter, a background investigation or a litigation matter.  A few posts back, I mentioned that there is not, in reality, a computerized national criminal records search available to private industry.  Neither private investigators, database companies nor information brokers have the ability to do a national criminal records check via a single computer search.  There a many advertisements, especially on the Internet, and claims by database companies and information brokers that they can conduct a national criminal history check, and they will do so for a low price–say $29.95.  Well, if you are buying such information you should know what you are getting in return.  Most people or companies asking for a national criminal background check do not realize what information they are getting with this “national criminal background check” or they want to say “We had a national criminal background check done, and it only costs us $29.95.” 

Now, as wordy as I am, I could write a book on this subject matter.  But, I want to shorten things a bit and point you in the direction of previously written, excellent articles/sources about the fallacy of some advertised “national criminal background checks.”   Jackie Walters, a temporary technical services librarian at Wiley Rein LLP, wrote an excellent article on the “Myths, Realities & Resources” of national criminal background checks.  Jackie points out what all professional investigators know–there is no central repository for national criminal records; not all states report crimes; and there is no standard for collecting criminal records.  She also points out there are four types of criminal records–arrest, criminal court (federal, state & local) corrections (jails & prisons) and state criminal repository records.  Jackie’s article brings reality to criminal records research.  Jackie’s article was published in the Law Librarian’s Society of Washington, DC,, publication–Law Library Lights, Vol. 50, no. 3, Spring 2007, Research Special Areas, p. 14.  Read the entire article for a real education,   

For PIAVA members the article will be uploaded to, members only page.  I will let you know details later.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA



One Response to “National Criminal Background Check–Doh!”

  1. Benjamin said

    This was a great post. It is so important to know what you are getting into with a person and using a criminal background check can really help in many ways.

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