Background Checks


While most people think of background and reference checking as essentially being limited to part of the hiring process, it is not uncommon for consumers to check out various types of service providers or for organizations to check the backgrounds of companies with whom they’re planning to do business or, for that matter, for landlords to carry out a background or court check on prospective renters. In each of the foregoing instances, it’s just good sense to make sure the companies, individuals, and organizations – just like prospective employees – are who they claim to be and don’t have a history of questionable services, products, or behavior.

In nearly every instance, a release or authorization is required to be signed either as a matter of law or just as a good business practice. The release/authorization gives the consumer, the business, or the landlord permission to contact references and conduct any appropriate background checks that may be necessary. And, in point of fact, most companies and individuals who hope to do business with you, or hope to rent from you, assuming they are who they claim to be and have a good reputation for doing what they say they will, are ordinarily happy to sign a release or authorization – and also to provide the names of other appropriate customers or landlords to make the background check easier!

On the other hand, one occasionally runs into a prospective renter or company unwilling to sign that authorization or release so that a check can be carried out. Sometimes those unwilling to sign act indignant or seem to be insulted that anyone would question their work, their products, or their previous landlords. The sense one gets is, “How dare you question my background or integrity!”

Well, when you think about who’s going to be paying the bill for the work done or the service provided or the product purchased, doing a little background checking is really a sensible thing to do – particularly when one considers how many fly-by-night operations there actually are. Furthermore, if the prospective renter or service provider or company trying to sell you a product is all they claim to be, why wouldn’t they be happy to have you check anything you wanted to check? Reputable companies and individuals ordinarily have nothing to hide. And even if an otherwise reputable company is insulted by the request, I would have doubts about doing business with people quite that snooty.

But the point is, whenever the sellers of goods and services, or prospective renters refuse to sign an authorization form or a release that will allow you to check their background, a red flag should go up and other vendors or renters sought. And if the decision is made to utilize their services, buy their products, or rent them an apartment anyway, extra care should definitely be used. The chances are great that there’s something in their past they don’t want you to know!