All posts by Justin

Background Checks: Before You Freak Out, Read This


So, you ran a background check on someone and found something that has you alarmed.  Your suspicions have been confirmed, your intuition has proven correct….or has it?

Take a breath before jumping to conclusions.

Take a breath before jumping to conclusions. Photo credit: Casey Fleser

Before you panic, confront or cut ties without someone, take a deep breath and be sure to consider the whole picture.  While it is important to protect yourself, it is also important to realize that a background check provides the skeleton of someone’s life, a skeleton you still need to flesh out.

One obvious area where people get really concerned is in the possible associates section of a background check.  While current or ex-spouses will show up in the possible associates area, they are hardly the only people who may show up there.  Former roommates, parents, siblings, even cousins or close friends may show up as known associates in someone’s background check.

The possible associates and possible family members section will depend heavily on how someone is linked to other people in the public record.  To assume that there must have been a legally recognized relationship, like a marriage, between someone and a possible associate on a background check is not only incorrect, but can also make you believe that someone has lied about his or her past, even if they have been completely honest.

Another area that tends to cause concern about a background check is if it reveals significant financial difficulties in the past, such as a bankruptcy or a foreclosure.  It is important to keep in mind that financial difficulties can emerge from many sources, including unforeseen medical expenses, a failed business or simply tough economic times that many otherwise responsible people could not cope with.  As a result, a relatively recent bankruptcy or foreclosure may not suggest that someone is irresponsible with money, but may be more of an indicator of underlying negative economic conditions or other factors beyond the person’s control.  If a financial red flag has you concerned about a person in your life, consider how the person behaves with money in your presence before making a knee-jerk reaction.

Finally, it can be easy to freak out if someone has a criminal record, but a criminal history is not going to provide more context about an underlying incident.  Depending on what type of history has been revealed, you may want to gather more information before making a decision.  It is important to keep in mind that the black and white of a police record or sentencing report can often be at odds of the real life color of an incident.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that, while a background check can be an extremely useful tool to discover more information about an individual, it is only one of the tools you should use before making a major decision.

Will A Criminal Record Lock Up Your Dating Life?



A criminal record doesn’t have to mean doom for your love life. Photo credit: Jason Clapp

All of us have skeletons in the closet, but some skeletons may appear to be scarier than others, especially in a dating context.

With people from all walks of life now able to run background checks affordably and instantly, you may feel like your past is obscuring your present and future prospects.  After all, if you have a criminal record, you are already aware of how it can interfere with employment opportunities, educational opportunities, and even basic necessities such as housing.

However, until relatively recently, beyond official purposes, criminal records were sufficiently private that a person with an incident in his or her past would have the chance to get to know someone before having to mention a criminal history.  Now however, it is entirely possible and even likely that someone could learn about your criminal history before you even get an opportunity to make a first impression.

So, how do you approach dating if you have a criminal incident on your record?

First, don’t lie.  While you may not have to share your entire criminal history with someone by the end of the first date, many potential partners will be more upset if you conceal the truth than they would have been about learning about the underlying criminal offense. Furthermore, if a criminal record is a deal-breaker for a potential partner, you not only waste their time, but yours, too, if you lie about it.

Second, take accountability for past mistakes. For many potential partners, it will not be enough for you to be honest about the details of your conviction, but also about the underlying details for the crime.  While you have every right to say you would like to wait to discuss them, the reality is that if a relationship progresses, you will need to discuss it at some point in time.  When you do describe the event, you will seem like you are trying to dodge responsibility if you blame others for what you did.

Third, ask yourself if you have you taken the steps needed to improve or change yourself since the criminal incident(s).  If the conviction involved drugs or alcohol, have you completed a rehabilitation program and are you currently sober?  If you were convicted with a group of people, have you changed associates?  If the conviction was for a violent crime, have you sought help to deal with any anger management issues or other problems with violence that you may have?

It is important to articulate the steps you have taken to put yourself in a different place than you were at when the criminal record was created. Many potential partners are not nearly as concerned about what is in your past as they are about what you are likely to be like in your future.

Therefore, any steps you have taken to help improve your chances of avoiding the same mistakes you have made in the past can be critical in keeping a new love interest onboard.

Are you unsure of what will show up on your background check? You can search instantly with BeenVerified to find out.


3 People Who Overcame Criminal Records And Dominated


Last week we noted that one of the most popular search subjects for BeenVerified’s background check is when people search for themselves. One of the primary motivations for this is when people are curious about whether or not incidents on their record will show up when other people search them.

Bill Gates ran into trouble early in life and went on to dominate.

Bill Gates ran into trouble early in life and went on to dominate.

Whether or not criminal activity shows up in a background check could have a major impact on your future prospects—but it doesn’t have to confine you to a life in the shadows, either.

With that in mind, we searched news archives for well-known figures with criminal records who went on to overcome any stigma associated with their past actions. The celebrities we found not only overcame their past digressions but went on to dominate in their personal and professional lives.

All three stories below show that a criminal record does not automatically mean a life sentence of mediocrity. So if you search for yourself and that unsavory item is still on your background check, perhaps you can find inspiration from one of the three famous figures below.

  1. Bill Gates 

    One of the richest men in the world, despite a criminal record. Photo credit: Domain Barnyard

    One of the richest men in the world, despite a criminal record. Photo credit: Domain Barnyard

The founder of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates has never enjoyed playing by the rules. This allegedly also includes traffic rules, as he was arrested multiple times for traffic violations in the 1970s.

Despite having a criminal record, Gates went on to run the most powerful company in the world. His net worth is currently estimated at $81.3 billion and he just recently topped the Forbes 400 list.

Consider Bill’s example if you feel your criminal record is holding you back from a successful career by investigating starting your own enterprise where you’ll only have to answer to yourself.

  1. George W. Bush 

    Former President Bush had his own run-ins with the law.

    Former President Bush had his own run-ins with the law.

Despite what you may think about his policies, the man with the distinction of being the first president with a criminal record deserves credit for turning his life around. Former President Bush was arrested as many as three times in what by many accounts was a rambunctious early adulthood. His most serious incident was when he was arrested for DUI at the age of 30 in Maine.

Unfortunately for Bush, this last revelation was made public just days before the 2000 Presidential election. It was not enough to sway the election against him, and the revelations may have been dampened by the fact that he gave up alcohol completely at the age of 40.

If substances are at the root of past mistakes, come clean and seek professional help to get back on the right track, if needed.

  1. Mark Wahlberg 

    Mark overcame a troubled childhood to thrive. Photo credit: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

    Mark overcame a troubled childhood to thrive. Photo credit: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Before launching a successful music, modeling and acting career, Mark Wahlberg was constantly in trouble with Boston police as a young man. If you’ve seen the movie The Departed, you’ll have an idea of what his environment was like growing up. His most serious incident involved a fight where another man lost an eye and he was sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated assault.

After the incident, realizing he was on a slippery slope to a career of crime, Mark freed himself from the gang he was involved with and began to take positive steps towards building a life with positive influences.

Are bad influences in your life leading you to negative incidents? Like Mark, break free of “friends” who lead you down the wrong path before it’s too late.

If you’re concerned  about your past run a background check with BeenVerified today.

You are the most searched for person on BeenVerified!


Magnifying Glass

Put your public record under the magnifying glass now to avoid surprises when you can’t afford it later. Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall

While we’ve recently looked at when and why it matters to run a criminal background check on other people in your life, it may surprise you to know that among the most searched people our customers pay for information on are themselves.

While many people are familiar with running a self-Google search to see how your persona is presented online, we would argue that running a background check through a service like BeenVerified can be far more important, especially if you have any doubt as to where your criminal record stands.

While many people get squeamish about searching for more information on themselves, or even consider it somewhat narcissistic, a better way to look at it is empowering.

Having a clear idea of what’s in your background check will keep you from being wrong-footed in crucial situations and better able to prepare yourself ahead of time. As we’ve argued before, there is power in a background check and that power is to make better- informed decisions.

This week we’ll look at what to do if you have a less than stellar mark in your record, and strategies to present it to the outside world in the best possible light. We’ll even look at notable figures in the past who have succeeded after run-ins with the law to show that a perfect record isn’t everything.

But first, try checking yourself out now on BeenVerified like many thousands of our customers do every day, so you know what you’re working with.


Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems for Apple


As we mentioned in our previous post, Apple this week announced record sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 plus, selling more than 10 million units. And the phone is not even on sale yet in China, its biggest potential market.

While the financial news was good, some troubling stories bubbled up today about the new phones bending when being placed in pants pockets, while the iOS8 update has caused some users to lose their cell phone reception entirely.

Apple has had a good and a bad week. Photo credit: Mike Deerkoski

Apple has had a good and a bad week. Photo credit: Mike Deerkoski

You might remember Apple has had high profile issues around launches before, notably with the iPhone 4 cell signal issue, and the bending issue is not a new one for iPhones, as a number of sites have pointed out.

Thankfully, it seems these issue are affecting a small sample of iPhone users at present and Apple has a pretty good record of correcting issues like this, particularly when it comes to its software updates.

Here are some comments from the media about these issues:

“From an engineering standpoint, the iPhone is an amazingly small and delicately constructed device…When you make something longer, it gets proportionally more bendable, when you make it thinner, it gets a lot more bendable.”

-Jeremy Irons, a creative engineer speaking to Gizmodo.

And on the iOS 8 issue:

“Apple has pulled the latest update of its Apple’s iOS 8 mobile operating system amid reports of problems, including disabled cell service. It’s unclear how widespread it is, or which devices might be affected. On Twitter, users are complaining (under #iOS8bugs) about losing cell service and access to Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint sensor.”

-Dawn Chmielewski writing on Re/code

And here are some tips from BeenVerified on dealing with these issues:

  1. Always buy a case for your smartphone to protect it.
  2. Avoid sitting down with your phone in your pocket, especially if you prefer wearing tight-fitting skinny jeans.
  3. Don’t be the first person to update your phone. There are always unpredictable bugs with major operating system upgrades, wait a few days for them to work out the kinks first.
  4. Keep an eye on Twitter for reports of new issues, as they often break there first.

Have you experienced any of these issues this week? Let us know in the comments section.

3 Big Stories You Should Be Following


Here are a few big news stories we noticed from the past few days that are likely to stay in the headlines throughout the week:

  1. Celebrity photo scandal continues 

    Kim Kardashian. Phot credit: Eva Rinaldi

    Kim Kardashian. Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi 

The celebrity photo scandal involving the renegade site 4chan

continued to take twists and turns this weekend as more nude photos from Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens and Hope Solo emerged across the internet. Like the previous series of leaked photos it’s alleged the hackers breached the celebrities iCloud accounts through guessing passwords and back-up security questions.

Our advice: Now is a great time to revisit your security settings on any cloud storage devices such as iCloud, Dopbox or Amazon Cloud. While making sure you set strong passwords, we question whether it ever makes sense to hold extremely sensitive photos of yourself in the cloud or on your devices.

Further reading: Don’t Let Your Naked Selfies Reach These 3 People

  1. Apple introduces default encryption  

Coincidentally or not, after the celebrity iCloud scandal,                   Apple has been rolling out a number of new security features over the past couple of weeks. Apple has now introduced default encryption for iOS8, which means even the company itself will not be able to access data on your devices. Interestingly, Apple went a step further in its announcement, noting that “unlike competitors,” it will not try to monetize its users data. Many in the media interpret this as a swipe at Google, which also announced it will encrypt data by default.

The lines outside Apple stores were long everywhere this weekend.

The lines outside Apple stores were long everywhere this weekend. Photo credit: Joe Nicholl

Further reading: Is Google Hiding Something From You?

  1.  iPhone 6 sales break records

Apple continues to dominate headlines with the announcement that it sold over 10 million of its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus since Friday. What’s even more impressive, as this Forbes article points out, is that the new phone models are not yet on sale in the world’s largest smartphone market, China, until early 2015.

Further reading: 6 Things to Like About the iPhone 6 Announcement

What news stories did you find interesting this week? Let us know in the comments.

3 Situations When a Criminal Record Matters


Earlier this week we looked at when and why it matters if someone has a criminal record. We noted that this question would likely be answered differently by different people and in different contexts. A criminal record involving someone close to you is more pressing than knowing the down the street neighbor whom you’ve never actually met has one.

A background check can illuminate the situation.

A background check can illuminate the situation. Photo credit: Olga Reznik 

Here are three situations when knowing that someone has a criminal record might actually matter and how your awareness of the situation can improve your choices:

  1. A New Date

Getting things off on the right foot is important in a new relationship and it’s also important to know if a potential romantic partner is hiding anything crucial from you. If you get a funny feeling about an otherwise promising new romantic interest in your life, then consider running a background check to get peace of mind.

If you find past criminal activity of importance then at the very least, you know having a prompt conversation about past mistakes is important. At worst, you may find that that this person intends on hiding something important about him or herself from you.

  1. Anyone interacting with your children

You can’t watch your kids 100% of the time and there will be always be other adults in their lives, whether through a carpool to school, the parents of their friends, or even older friends that they meet through various activities.

If something doesn’t feel right to you, running a background check should be a no-brainer. We have had previous customers use our service to uncover criminal records and remove their children from potentially dangerous situations. The threats out there are real, and a background check can be an affordable and accessible first line of protection for your family. What you do with the knowledge is up to you.

  1. A neighbor or acquaintance 

While it’s impossible to check on the history of everyone you interact with, you should feel comfortable around people like next-door neighbors and anyone else in your close proximity. If a neighbor has a history of gun violations, for example, then maybe it’s a good idea to avoid having your children play near his yard.

The power of a background check is simply the power of information.

We hope you don’t find out anything questionable about your neighbor or new love interest, but having the power of that knowledge will certainly improve your chances of making more informed decisions, a key mission of ours when we started BeenVerified.


When Does it Matter if Someone Has a Criminal Record?


At BeenVerified, we make it easy for our customers to run detailed background checks which can provide a plethora of information from address history, social media profiles, known aliases and associates, among other useful facts about the person being searched. Taken together, this information can provide a richer picture of a little-known person and draw a sharper….or not, as the case may be.

When do criminal records really matter?

When do criminal records really matter?

One very common use of our background check service is to search for criminal record history. Customers can be motivated to do this for a number of valid reasons, many of which you can review on our Dos and Don’ts page here.  As we have covered extensively on this blog in the recent past, online dating has provided people with a means of meeting endless potential matches, but also a seemingly endless number of scams, too.

Some prolific online daters use BeenVerified’s background check service as a prerequisite for going on a first date in person. As one loyal customer wrote on our Facebook page, “I won’t date him if he hasn’t BeenVerified.”

There are many other reasons a criminal background check could be useful, or even essential. Many of these reasons could have to do with your children and any new people in their lives. One customer told us how, as a mother, she just had a “funny feeling” about one of the new parents carpooling her child to school. It turned out he was a registered sex offender.

Not all examples will be so dramatic, of course. Rather than any serious crime, that same mother could have spotted a history of speeding violations, which could have given her pause and at least served as a reason to have a conversation with the other parent. Yet, spotting speeding tickets on the record of a potential online date may not carry the same importance, particularly if the incidents are well in the past.

These types of nuances got us thinking: when and in what context do criminal records actually matter? A speeding ticket in one context could be dismissed by one person and yet be a deal breaker for someone else. Yet there are many other examples of when someone’s criminal record could also not be so black and white. An isolated error in judgment when someone was in college decades ago is surely not the same as a history of unreformed criminal behavior.

This week we will look at what drives people to search for criminal record information and when and why a criminal record may matter, whether with a potential new date, a neighbor, someone interacting with your child or anyone playing a significant role in your life.

The Million Dollar Parking Spot


The New York Times recently reported that 10 New York City private parking spots will be come with a price tag of $1 million each.

This is shocking to us, even as New Yorkers who are used to paying an arm, a leg, and then another arm for pretty much everything. While the Huffington Post, among others, picked up on the fact that this sort of extravagance which caters to the ultra-wealthy highlights the huge gap between the rich and poor both here in New York and beyond, another issue came to mind for us: peace of mind.

Some parking spaces in NYC are selling for $1 million.

Some parking spaces in NYC are selling for $1 million. Photo credit: Jeffrey Zeldman

Let us explain. For those not familiar with parking in NYC, it’s a pretty terrible experience. Searching for street parking has been known to lead to insanity among drivers and even for the lucky ones able to snag a spot, you’re leaving your car open to all the travails of a rough, unpredictable, urban environment. Scratches, broken side-view mirrors, thefts and of course, parking tickets, are all too common.

Parking garages offer some shelter but still leave you at the mercy of hurried attendants who will pack your car vertically three or four rows high. And did we mention the fees?

The rare parking spots that come with apartments here are routinely rented out by their owners to help subsidize substantial portions of the actual rent. The whole situation is enough to make you crazy. Perhaps this is why even ex-Mayor Bloomberg would ride the Subway for his commute some days.

So someone selling a million dollar parking spot is selling a lot more than the extra space and convenience. They are selling peace of mind. Peace of mind that the car will be protected, always accessible and always vacant for its owner.

At BeenVerified, we think everyone should have access to peace of mind and not just the extremely rich. That’s been a large part of our mission since day one. We build and organize data assets that used to be part of a closed system, available only to a privileged few, and make that information accessible to everyone. Our pricing structure makes multiple searches affordable so you never have to question if it’s worth the money to run a background check, for whichever purpose you need it for.

Whether you’re seeking information on a pesky phone number, an owner of an address or a new person in your life, you can use our background check for your own peace of mind.

And we definitely suggest you take the train when you come to New York.

What’s the most you’ve ever paid for peace of mind? Let us know in the comments.

6 Things to Like About the iPhone 6 Announcement


As developers of an iPhone app we watched Apple’s launch event yesterday with anticipation. We found at least six things to like or at least find interesting, and none of them have to do with Bono.

New iPhone models.

New iPhone models.Photo credit: Miguel Angel Aranda

  1. Many of the cool new features have to do with the announcement of Apple Pay. Using a technology called Near Field Communication (NFC) your iPhone can double as a digital wallet featuring one touch checkout. Unlike other versions, this one has the backing of all major card providers so it has a chance of seeing mainstream adoption.
  1. Apple Pay also encrypts your card data so merchants won’t have access to your card information anymore. Apple says even if a store you shop at gets hacked you won’t need to cancel the card used from its wallet.
  1. The iPhone 6 plus display is their best yet, at 1080p HD.
  1. Ditto the camera, with new features including an advanced pixel sensor and lens, and a new feature called “burst selfie” mode.
  1. Improved battery life. Especially important for all that late night Tinder activity.
  1. Not too expensive. The cost is in line with traditional iPhone pricing.

Will you be upgrading to an iPhone 6? Let us know which of the features most excite you in the comments.