Just as an individual accumulates a background with credit history, so too does a company. To uncover these details about a company, your most straightforward option is to run a background check. Most professional companies can check public records, including private and public databases. Interested individuals can purchase the report and review credit history, identifying details, and any ongoing account information within the file. If you’re interested in looking up these details on your own, here are the steps you can take:

Investigate Government Sources

The Security and Exchange Commission regulates financial companies outside the FTC. The FTC is responsible for regulating every US-based company, including trade practices. One of the commission’s primary responsibilities is to investigate and stop monopoly formations and foster consumer protection.

If you’re looking to complete a background check on a business, start with SEC records. These records are available for securities transactions under the resources section of the SEC website. You’ll be able to download quarterly reports, shareholders’ letters, and any investment-related documents.

Uncover Uniform Commercial Code Filing

If you’re trying to determine a business’s financial status, the UCC filing system is relevant. This service is free through the Secretary of State’s website. To access the system, you’ll need the proper business name and contact information. After you submit your search, a list of companies will appear, making it simplified for the average user.

Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau provides comprehensive information about companies, including grading functionality. These grades range from A to F and include core services for truth in advertising, fraud, and dispute resolution. This service is free to access and is directly connected to the registered business name.

Search for any Litigation

You’ll need access to an electronic legal database that allows review of cases and search functionality to get started. LexisNexis and Westlaw work for such functionality but require payment to access. From there, enter the company name into the search functionality. You can review any tax records for liens with this service too. If you’d like to search federal records, you’ll need an attorney to pull the records.

Are Company Background Checks Worth the Price?

If you’re looking to investigate a company thoroughly, a background check takes the work out of your evaluation. Most screening companies include educational verification, professional license validation, and credit reporting in the initial fee. Most companies will also reference the company name against any litigation to see if the company has faced any liens or lawsuits. While these services often cost extra for individual search functionality, it is included in the report.

Can I Run a Background Screen on the Owner?

Running an individual background check is possible if you know the owner’s first and last name in question. Similar to commercial background checks, separate reports will include a wide array of information in the report. These details include personal identification (name, address, phone number, social security number, and email), financial accounts, criminal history, educational verification, employment histories, and social media involvement.

If you’re investigating the business for merging or partnership consideration, having a complete evaluation of all interested parties is a wise decision. After all, there’s nothing worse than a solid business with a shady owner. For example, if a business owner runs her company smoothly (meaning no litigation or tax issues), a potential partner or investor may consider helping her grow economically. After further inspection, the investor discovers a disheartening history on the owner’s background screen. The business owner has filed for bankruptcy twice and continues to spend well beyond her means, making her a potential liability.