If you take a closer look, you can find out how reliable online services actually are and how background checks can help protect you and your family.
With the click of a mouse you can find a fit for nearly every need and dig up dirt on almost anyone, but when scanning for a criminal past Sergeant Craig Stout with the Fayetteville Police Department said not every fingerprint can be traced in an online background check.
"There are some very reputable businesses, and then there are some fly by nights...Do some research on the company that you might be using to do that background check."
When reaching out into the unknown, Stout said caution is not overrated.
"It behooves you to, to look as deep into their past as you can...If it's someone working in the church or maybe around children, versus someone that's maybe doing maintenance work outside."
Even if you check for a criminal history, some crimes may fall through the cracks.
"Whenever you do a background check it may not show arrests, it may just show convictions...There are some things that even if you do the background, you may never know about."
For example, according to one investigator, if a church had run a background check on 20-year-old Matthew Alan Roberts they would have only seen minor offenses. They may never have guessed that, according to a probable cause report, while training to become a youth minister in Northwest Arkansas, at least six children would come forward stating Roberts raped or sexually assaulted them.
"You never know what someone's potential future behavior is, you can only hope that you can maybe see a pattern off of past behavior that might give you some indication."
On the other hand, background checks can help spot trouble on the front end. Stout said he recently received a call from a homeowner that wanted information on a tenant they had to evict.
"If they would have done, you know, just even the most minimal background, they would have realized very quickly that, perhaps I don't want to rent to this person."
Sgt. Stout said there is a simple way to hone the hunt.
"What I would suggest is that maybe they start with their local police agency...If they know that they're perhaps a Fayetteville resident I can at least give them the information of what criminal activity they have had with my jurisdiction...The state police has the ability to do a more extensive background check."
So before you pull out the plastic and pay for peace of mind, Stout said you just need to pick up the phone and dial your local police department.
"A matter of phone calls you can look that information up, doesn't cost anything, and you might find something there that's going to eliminate this person immediately to where you don't have to spend that money for an online background check."
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently made changes to its 25-year-old policy, actually making it harder to throw out or eliminate job applicants simply because of a criminal background.
To learn more about these EEOC changes, click here.