Who is legally allowed to run a background check on me?

Unlike a RAP sheet, many more people (for housing, employments, bank loans, public benefits, etc.) can run a private background check on you, but it is still protected from showing everything in most cases. In California, state and federal laws[2977] allow background check companies to run background checks and send the information…

    To anyone making decisions about you for: employment, renting a house/apartment, professional licensing, government benefits, credit obligations,[2978] court-ordered child support or alimony, or insurance;
    To establish child support requirements;
    In response to a court order or subpoena;
    To anyone with a legitimate business need for the report (for example, a bank, creditor, or someone you have a business relationship with);[2979]or
    To the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or National Credit Union Administration.

Basically, the main people who can—and are likely to—run a background check on you are employers, private landlords, insurance companies, licensing boards and agencies, and financial institutions.

REMEMBER, there are LIMITS on what information can be included in your background check. In general, cleaning up your record means that the information may no longer show up in the background checks that most people—like ordinary employers and private landlords—can get.


  1. 2977

    FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681b; Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1786.12.

  2. 2978

    FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(a)(3)(E); Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1786.12.

  3. 2979

    FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(a)(3)(F). A “legitimate business need” includes anything related to a business relationship you started, or a need to review an existing account or ensure that you meet the terms of the account.