How to Do a Free Background Check on Someone in Canada
Whether it’s to obtain information about a potential employee, caregiver or even a romantic partner, background checks are a useful tool at anyone’s disposal. Running a free background check on someone is a perfectly valid course of action and shouldn’t be approached with any hesitation or negative connotations, such as being paranoid or invasive.
That being said, there are two main ways to conduct a background check in Canada: by obtaining an official RCMP background check, or by performing an informal, free background check online.
How to Check a Criminal Record in Canada for Free
An RCMP background check is the only official way to perform a criminal background check on someone in Canada. The RCMP database is the only information network in Canada which has access to criminal records.
Obtaining an RCMP background check normally involves a fee. In most cases, when someone needs to provide a criminal record check for the purpose of employment of volunteering, the cost will come from their own pocket.
In some cases, one could obtain a free criminal record check in Canada by applying for a job in which the company conducts the check at their expense. However, the applicant won’t necessarily be given the results of the check in this case.
The only truly free alternative to an official RCMP background check is to conduct an online search. This will of course require more effort and skill to achieve.
Online or Free Background Checks in Canada
An online background check is a free way to learn about a person, but won’t necessarily reveal any criminal activity – an official online criminal record check in Canada isn’t free. However, one can learn a lot about someone simply through the information that can be freely found online.
In some cases, all one might need to start is an online handle or nickname. Ideally, starting with more information about the person can yield better results.
What Is Needed to Perform an Online Background Check
- The person’s full name
- Photos of the person if possible
- The person’s address or phone number if possible
Performing an online background check essentially involves exploring a person’s “digital footprint” across a variety of platforms and networks. When dealing with younger people such as millennials, this can be a relatively easier task as they tend to have more established and widespread web presences.
An older or more cautious person may not have as much information posted online, and may not even use certain major social networks like Facebook and Twitter. However, for most people, even if they are relatively concerned about their privacy, a significant amount of information can be found by conducting the right search.
Tips on Where to Start
The best places to start, especially if you have the person’s name or online handle, are search engines and social networks. The top 4 sites to begin any search are:
- How to Use Google for a Background Check
Google is the obvious place to start an online search. Beyond just typing in a name, there are a host of advanced search techniques that one can use. To enhance the power of a search, try the following tips:
- Enclose search terms in quotation marks
- Add any information about the person outside the quotation marks
- Include cities, schools, friends’ names
- Use site-specific search commands, e.g. site:nationalpardon.org “John Smith”
Having a photo of the person being searched for is useful in case they have a very common name, or if their name appears on many results. The Google image search function can also be useful in this case.
- Searching Social Networks
Social media can be a treasure trove of information about an individual. After all, social networks are designed to compel people to voluntarily share information about themselves. It’s quite common to hear about employers accessing potential employees’ social media profiles in order to find out about their background and lifestyle, for example.
The first stop on any social media search should be Facebook. Using Facebook’s built-in search function, one can search for a person by name or e-mail address, and also modify the results by location, school, and workplace.
It’s usually rare for someone to have removed themselves from Facebook search, or to not have a Facebook profile at all. One potential way around privacy settings on Facebook is to perform a site-specific Google search on facebook.com for the person’s name. For example, typing in site:facebook.com “John Smith” will show what sites they have commented on through Facebook.
LinkedIn is a more targeted social network as it deals with jobs and careers, but it can be very fruitful for employers. While people generally post less personal information on LinkedIn, it’s still a great way to view someone’s work history and skillset. LinkedIn also has the unique feature of notifying users when their profile is viewed or searched, so it’s important to be aware of that.
Twitter is a popular but unique social network. Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, Twitter requires very little personal information from users. However, since Twitter encourages regular posting of thoughts, links and comments, one can still get a lot of information about someone’s tastes, activities and personality.
How to Find an Address or Phone Number
In some cases, one might not have someone’s address or phone number and need to acquire it for the online search. The easiest way to do so is to use whitepages.com. It’s a free online phone number and address lookup. Its database is updated frequently, and also offers a premium reverse phone number lookup function. Note that this will simply show where the phone is from based on the number’s area code, not where it is currently located.
Consulting an Expert
While performing an online search is the closest one can get to a free Canadian background check, there’s no way to obtain a true criminal background check in Canada without accessing the RCMP database – which will involve a fee. In order to ensure this process is as smooth as possible, it’s always best to consult an expert about the options available to you, whether you are learning about your own background or vetting a potential hire.