Background Checks With Social Security Numbers (SSNs)


This page is designed to provide all you need to know about Social Security Numbers when it comes to background checks. Social Security Numbers are issued to U.S. citizens, those with permanent resident status in the U.S. and to those who are temporary residents and have employment. When carrying out a background check with a social security number, there are some subtle differences that can make the background checks more reliable and more efficient but it does not necessarily ensure a more comprehensive search.

Tenant Background Check With Social Security Number

Having a Social Security Number makes running tenant background checks easy and they are routinely carried out by landlords before taking on new tenants. It is commonplace across most of the U.S. to perform credit checks as part of a tenant background check and to do so against an individual’s Social Security Number. However, there are many state-dependent laws surrounding tenant screening. In some states, such as California, landlords are prevented entirely from questioning or requiring proof of a prospective tenant’s citizenship/legal residency status and they must seek alternative means of background testing, such as personal references or independent proof of income. It is not impossible to run a credit check against a tenant with no Social Security Number but they are often rejected just on name and address, largely because they may not even exist yet.

Employment Background Check With Social Security Number

A valid Social Security Number submitted with an application is an excellent indication of authenticity and will return precise and accurate results specific to that individual. Furthermore, the very validity of the Social Security Number is checked as part of the process, offering the employer additional protection and confidence in the employee. It’s possible to perform an employment background check without a Social Security Number but it can cause delays identifying and verifying individuals with name and address only.

Criminal Background Check With Social Security Number

Criminal records are usually specifically not associated with Social Security Numbers for privacy reasons. In theory a Social Security Number should make no difference when performing a criminal background check, especially for county court searches. However, some Federal/national offences are indeed logged against Social Security Numbers. You should discuss this with your background check provider to ensure the searches suitable for your industry are part of the service that you have chosen.

Performing Background Checks Without A Social Security Number

It is still possible to run backgrounds against people without a Social Security Number. Usually these are referred to as ‘trace searches’ and often they are just as effective as running a check with a Social Security Number. Providing a Social Security Number does make running background checks easier, more efficient and more reliable but usually without one it is as effective to run one against last name and address, proving these details are accurate. Actually most types of criminal history are not associated with a Social Security Number anyway and so would have to be looked up as part of a wider criminal background check with the same name and address information mentioned above.