Why You Should Avoid Free Background Checks.jpg

Why You Should Avoid "Free Background Checks"

One of the most common keyword searches around criminal record checks is, ‘Background Checks Free’. Honestly, we’re not surprised. We’re a nation of bargain hunters after all! We all want to know that when we’re spending our hard-earned cash, we’re getting the best deal.

If we didn’t have the industry knowledge that we do, in your shoes we’d probably do the same. But we do know the industry and there’s plenty of reasons why ‘free’ checks shouldn’t be relied on.


Limited Sources of Information

The sites that offer free background checks can only access information on public records. Whilst this could be useful to an extent, it is hard to guarantee the quality or source of the information.

This is limited further because these services only check digitally available information. Checking physical records takes both time and money. This means the information gathered can’t be considered exhaustive.


Legal Responsibilities

There is no legal requirement for anybody to have a background check for any role. Yes, you read that right, there is NO legal requirement. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get them.

Employers that need background checks, particularly DBS checks, need them because they are carrying out ‘regulated activity’. These employers, are legally obliged to ensure that their employees are not barred from working with Children or Vulnerable Adults. The only way to do this is via a DBS check.

Regulative bodies such as the FCA, OFSTED and the CQC also determine who need these checks. Even if they aren’t directly involved in regulated activity.

Relying on a free check will not provide this information and will ultimately mean your business is at risk through non-compliance.


Automated Searches

These ‘free’ background checking sites ae generally made up of a search bar or short form to fill in. You submit the info and an automated result would come through very quickly. Sometimes instantly.

Whist an instant result might sound great, there’s no guarantees about the info received. Without human involvement, there is no one examining the results before they are sent. An auto search wouldn’t be able to distinguish between several people with the same name. Ultimately meaning that the information returned might relate to your candidate at all.

If you’re looking at employing anyone with a common surname like, Smith. You’d be safer paying for a high-quality check to be completed. Otherwise you might find yourself accusing an innocent person of a crime!



Background checks can be disputed and being able to hold an organisation accountable is important. If you carry out a free background check and use this information to make hiring decisions, the only person accountable is you! There is no guarantee of legal compliance from these services.

We are a registered umbrella body for the Disclosure and Barring Service. If anything goes wrong or your candidate raises a dispute, we can help. We can guide you through the dispute process with the DBS. Any incorrect information gets investigated thoroughly by our compliance team.

Relying on free checks means you’re on your own.


Expert Knowledge

If you use a free background check to get information your results are limited. You would not be provided with any advice on what they mean. In many cases it might not even be relevant. If that’s the case, you could be breaking the law by using this information to make hiring decisions.

Our team have decades of combined knowledge in background screening and safeguarding. We can help you understand your responsibilities as an employer and what checks are appropriate for your business. We can help with anything from general safeguarding queries or in-depth discussions of how legislation affects your industry. Sometimes it’s just nice to speak to a human!



When it comes to recruitment, cost is a major consideration. However, making savings with free background checks could end up costing you far more in the future. If you get things right the first time, you don’t need to do it again.

If you would like to speak to one of our advisors about how our background checking services can help your business, get in touch. Give us a call on 01254 355688 or send an email our way at [email protected]

We look forward to hearing from you!





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