A Social Security number may be used to conduct various background checks and research a person's past criminal history, credit history, driving records and employment history. Those conducting background checks generally need additional personal information as well, such as a person's name and date of birth.
Background checks may be used to reveal a person's criminal history. Background checks also reveal any other public records a person might have such as court cases, property ownership, bankruptcy filings and worker's compensation claims. While an individual's public records may be freely searched, private information is generally not released by background reporting agencies without an individual's signed consent.
Background checks may also be used to retrieve an individual's credit report. Credit reports show bill payment history, credit scores, income and other financial information. The Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits credit reporting agencies from reporting civil suits, civil judgements, arrest records, paid tax liens, collection accounts and other negative information on personal credit reports for more than seven years from the offense. Bankruptcies may be reported for a longer period of 10 years from the date of occurrence. Background checks may also be used to retrieve a person's driving record, dates of attendance for educational institutions, degrees, activities and military status.