Background Scans a Swipe Away

Who do you know?

Mark Sebastian

It's no secret that your information online is not secret and numerous stories have been published on the Web and aired on TV that tell of what happens if you don't protect your identity. But much of that information is public.

Now there's an iPhone app that lets users instantly run background checks on that public information. But is it worth the download?

Appropriately named the Background Check App, it gives anyone the power to "search people and their criminal history, property records, current contact info, relatives, neighbors and more!"

It's free to download and comes with three free checks of information in public records per week. After that, users have to buy a subscription of about $8 a month. In just the first three days it was released, BeenVerified's app made it to the 12th most popular spot on the iTunes list of free utilities. The app will even use the contact list on your iPhone to run backgrounds checks on everyone on the list.

The app's description explains that it: "Also comes with free email search to find out what social networks they're on. Check out their online photos, websites, blog posts amd entire online presence."

If that's not enough to sell you the tool that many would say is an invasion of privacy, it also comes with this push to download: "Spook your friends by telling them what books they read, music they listen to and more!"

Haven't they heard of Facebook?

Beenverified suggests the app would be good for anyone ranging from online daters to real estate agents to "anyone hooking up with some shady guy."

Their disclaimer explains that all they have done is gathered the database of publicly available sources of information compiled them into a searchable databse but that doesn't make  the concept of the app any less scary.

The app has gotten pretty poor reviews -- from the concept to the performance.

The app also does a nationwide criminal search. But one reviewer claiming to be a cop says, the "app works, kind of" and goes on to explain that running the names of known criminals didn't return information reflecting their shadiness.

Another reviewer passes along this pretty useful advice:
"For those of you thinking this app will help you find out any real information about the questionable people you come across, think again and then go Google the person."

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