3 Shocking Reasons You Can’t Count On A Background Check

Feb 4, 2019 | Hiring Help, Safety Smart, Safety Tips

It’s one of the first things people think of when they want to feel safe: “I should run a background check.”

So more and more sites are making them part of their promise to keep you safer… whether you’re hiring a babysitter, finding someone to walk your dog while you’re at work, looking for a handyman, or even renting a house.

But there’s a lot more to background checks than you may know…. and that peace of mind? Well, the next time you see a user online who boasts that they’ve passed a background check, keep digging.


We learned why from an unusual source from the most powerful city in the world…


Did you know that each day in Washington, D.C., dozens of people arrive at the White House asking to see the president? They just “pop in.” In that moment, the Secret Service has about 3 seconds to decide whether or not that person is a threat. (Usually, they’re just a bit delusional.)

SafetyPIN founder Jenny Thompson discovered that when she was talking with the former White House Chief of Security and SafetyPIN Security Expert John Gill. At the time, Jenny was beginning to develop what has become the new standard in personal safety, SafetyPIN’s Trust Badge. It was just after a dangerous close encounter with a dog sitter she hired on Craigslist.

But that’s not all she discovered. As she began to build SafetyPIN, Jenny found three huge flaws in traditional background checks that may shock you.

Any one of these facts alone is enough to “trick” you into bringing someone dangerous into your home and around your family, even if they passed a criminal background check.

So when you’re using an app that promises that their users are background checked – whether or not it is mandatory – take caution. Because it doesn’t mean what we think it does.


Here are 3 shocking secrets about background checks:


1) There is no such thing as a national background check

Many people think that “national” background checks scan any offense committed anywhere in the U.S. But actually, only 16 states report 100% of criminal activity up to databases (keep reading for more on the lack of publicly available data). Even more shocking is the fact that 22 states do NOT automatically report any criminal data to those same databases. And in the rest of the states, some counties report, and some don’t.

2) Standard background checks stop checking at the county line

Other than the national sex offender registry, the state sex offender registries, and federal charges (like drug trafficking and identity theft) , almost all criminal activity is recorded at the county level. So when a background check promises to go to the county level, that means you probably won’t get any history for the county next door. For some perspective, this means that if someone lives in New York City, and you run a standard background check on them, you wouldn’t know if they had one of the following non-federal charges 1 mile away in Brooklyn, because it’s a different county:

Driving intoxicated
Battery or Assault
… and more!

3) Approximately 40% of Crimes in the U.S. Go Unreported

That means, for every 100 crimes committed in the United States, 40 are never even reported to police. And since background checks can only tell you what people have been arrested and tried for, a large number of crimes are completely unavailable. That is a huge limitation. I mean, how can background checks protect you if they can’t piece together the full story of someone’s past? They can’t.


But there is a solution…


SafetyPIN was created to overcome these three flaws. Our screening process goes further and deeper into an applicant’s history and behavior than any background check. Like we said above, most background checks stop at the county line, but we know most criminals don’t. That’s why we’ve worked with a federal investigator to audit all 3,200 counties in the U.S. and tell us where we could get digitally-available data and where we couldn’t. Then we work with independent vendors to drill down on the information we need, never stopping until we have the best combination of data to fill gaps in someone’s record – even if it means sending someone to a small town courthouse to get a photocopy of someone’ record.

But since 40% of crimes are never reported anywhere, we didn’t stop there. Our team has worked with an expert team of criminal profilers that includes a forensic psychologist to develop the specialized questions and scoring in our behavioral review. The results of our behavioral review allow us to identify red flags, even if the person has no criminal history.

If someone has displayed their SafetyPIN on their profile, they’re letting you know they care about your safety and they can be trusted in real life. Whether it’s a babysitter, handyman, dog walker, or house cleaner, always make sure to ask for their SafetyPIN before you let anyone in your home or around your family…or meet them anywhere offline.

You don’t have to rely on flawed sources of data or hoping for the best. Start creating connections based on trust with a SafetyPIN. You can apply for one (or ask someone else to) for just $1 here.

Be sure to check out our video with more information below:

Additional Posts

Four nights in jail that another background check would miss

Most background checks only screen the “National Criminal Database,” which excludes 22 states completely, and leaves out a LOT of counties across 12 other states. Better background checks will screen down to the county someone lives in, and, in some cases, the counties they’ve lived in for the past 7 years. But we know criminals don’t stop at the county line – so neither do we.

The angry shoplifter who wants to watch your house

Forty-year-old Phoebe was applying to be a house-sitter. Our review showed she’d been arrested for shoplifting when she was 33. That’s a little too old to write-off as a youthful indiscretion. When our experts asked Phoebe for more details, her answers became defensive and she refused to explain any circumstances around her arrest. Most background checks would overlook a single

Could this be the most dangerous person we’ve ever screened out?

This is a case we often talk about in our offices. Bill applied for a SafetyPIN in mid-June. From the beginning, there was something about his application and information that concerned us, but we couldn’t put our finger on it at first. It certainly didn’t help that he called customer service almost every day to ask about the status of his SafetyPIN.