There are many kinds of background searches. For example, an employer might want a background check on a prospective employee, or a woman might want to know if her boyfriend is really divorced. Conducting online background checks can be a lucrative field, but before you hang out your Internet shingle, it's important to study the different kinds of background checks, the legalities of the profession, and the licensing requirements for your state.
Study background investigations. It's important to study the field, understand its legal requirements, what resources provide the most reliable background information, and so on. One way to learn is to read a book written by an expert in the field, such as "Sleuthing 101, Background Checks and The Law" by Barry Nadell, president and co-founder of InfoLink Screening Services, Inc., a national background screening company.
Research licensing for private investigators in your state. Background checks are background investigations, and most states require investigators to be licensed or certified. CrimeTime.com lists links for each state's licensing requirements. Review these requirements, which include required education and internship, and fulfill each one.
Network with other background investigators. Other investigators are valuable resources. For example, you might need an investigator who specializes in surveillance to help verify someone's living arrangements, or a criminal defense investigator to help you dig deeper into someone's criminal background. Network by going to a meeting of your state professional private investigator association, attending an investigators' conference or joining an investigators' group.
Set your rates. Review other background check businesses, see what they charge for their services and set competitive prices for yours. Define what kind of payments you accept (checks, money orders, cash and so on). You're setting up an Internet business, so be ready to conduct financial transactions online (for example, PayPal offers a Virtual Terminal feature that accepts credit card payments, refunds and credits).
Build a website. You can do this yourself, but consider hiring a professional web developer because this is your business, and you want it to look professional. A web developer can add features that not only aid your business, such as online forms, but also market your business, such as automated newsletter subscriptions, web feeds, embedded video and more.
Market your Internet background check business. Strategize your marketing plan, schedule a timeline and set a budget. Take advantage of free marketing opportunities on the Internet, such as swapping links with other investigators, starting a blog about background investigations (and updating it weekly), writing articles (with a link to your business website in your byline) and so on.