TBI offers statewide background checks - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

TBI offers statewide background checks

They're awfully hard to miss: Big billboards along Memphis highways advertising $29.00 background checks from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

"We feel like this is a service people would take advantage of if they knew it was out there," said TBI spokesperson Jennifer Johnson

The program started last year to raise money, after Governor Bredesen ordered the TBI to cut $1.5 million from it's budget.

All it takes is filling out an application available on the TBI website, but there is a catch: Consumers don't have access to the same information a TBI agent.

The advertised background checks only search criminal records reported to them by county clerks offices in Tennessee.

"This is not anything that people couldn't have gotten before," Johnson said. "It's just that they would have had to go to all 95 counties to do it."

Or go to any other background check service which uses the same public records and often sell reports for a lot less. Data Facts Incorporated of Cordova, a private backgrounding firm, warns customers to be cautious.

"I would be very careful consumers don't think it's a national search," said Data Facts president Daphne Large. "There's no substitute for physical county by county searches."

In fact, the TBI admits it doesn't independently verify the background information it gets from county criminal clerks.

If you're looking for out of state arrests you can't get those from the TBI, either. You'll have to do your own public records search in each state, and in some cases, each county within those states.

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