"More and more government agencies post public records online, making a startling amount of information available. With a little amateur sleuthing, you can peek into the backgrounds of the people you let into your life -- a nanny or housekeeper, an online acquaintance, a potential business partner -- and be reasonably satisfied they're not predators or crooks." The Seattle Times piece It's never been easier to be your own detective goes on to explain how easy it is to conduct background checks online, whether using do-it-yourself web search techniques or paying a few dollars for others to check on your behalf. While most database records are legitimately placed in the public domain in this fashion, it is equally possible that supposedly private databases could be hacked and end up on underground websites somewhere. The article also makes the point that you cannot necessarily trust everything you read online. Quite apart from the possibility of finding information about someone else with similar details to the person you are checking, the information available online is only as good as that stored in the database.
More database security and privacy links