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FBI Background Check

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May 12, 2010 Return to News & Events

FBI Background Checks

And Why we Include Records like the FBI Most Wanted Records
With all of our Criminal Background Checks for Free

The term, “FBI Background Check” is a commonly used phrase that doesn’t always mean the same thing to everybody when used.  Individuals can request files held by the Federal Bureau of Investigation online or by calling or mailing the FBI headquarters in Washington D.C.  However, a lot of researchers looking for certain FBI records go to institutions like the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Library of Congress where they can enjoy free access to large quantities of historic FBI records and files.

One form of an FBI Background Check is accessing their Top Ten FBI Most Wanted List along with accessing their Most Wanted Fugitives Database.  This is a background search that performs for free for all its customers every time they place a criminal background check through our website.  It is part of our Sex Offender, Most Wanted & Terrorist Background Search that is included for free with every criminal background check performed through the site.  The free background check includes FBI most wanted persons, sex offenders from all 50 US States and a list of Terrorists.

Actual cases, records and files created, obtained or otherwise maintained by the FBI can be accessed directly through them via their website, their “Reading Room” provided at the FBI Headquarters, by fax or by regular mail. 

For years, the FBI has been steadily adding its files to the Freedom of Information/Privacy Act (FOI/PA) website so people can access them from home or from anywhere with Internet Access and a computer.  Still, some records are not available online and require you to make a formal request to the FBI.  The FOI/PA generally provides that any person has a right of access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or potions thereof) are protected from disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.

The FBI offers criminal history checks for employment and licensing, but works through governmental licensing or employing agencies to exchange fingerprint data directly with the FBI in order to search the FBI files by fingerprint identification.

Overviews of the Freedom of Information Act (1966) and Privacy Act (1974), which govern the release of FBI records; and describing how the FBI handles Freedom of Information Act, and Privacy Act (FOI/PA) requests and why certain information is withheld from public release can be found on the FBI’s website at

Quick Summary of the History of the FBI and Its Records

  • The FBI emerged from within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 1908 under the authority of Attorney General Charles Bonaparte. A group of special agents were picked to lead the force over 100 years ago.  Originally known as the Bureau of Investigation or BOI, it later changed its name to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and has been known as such since 1935.
  • The mission of the FBI as publically stated and listed on their website, “is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners.”
  • The scope of the FBI’s responsibilities is wide, covering investigations into domestic and international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, cyber crime, public corruption, civil rights violations, white-collar and organized crime, violent crime and kidnapping, and other diverse crimes. The Bureau's records detail these responsibilities and the FBI’s performance in meeting its mission over the years.  In September 1920, the BOI and DOJ files were consolidated. For more information on Bureau files, please visit the FBI’s website at .

Accessing FBI Records and Other Federal Records

An FBI record, defined under the FOIA is a record that is either created or obtained by the agency, or under agency control at the time of an FOIA request.

The FBI—like other government agencies—creates or obtains records as it fulfills its duties. These records are generally organized into case files. Common records include investigative files, personnel files, and “rap sheets” (criminal identification records).

Where can I find specific FBI Records, knowing that The FBI maintains a large number of records? Researchers may obtain copies of closed case files or other documents under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts. Under these laws, certain categories of information—such as national security classified information or information that makes an impact on someone’s personal privacy—may be withheld.

The Freedom of Information Act also requires federal agencies to maintain both a physical and an electronic “Reading Room” containing certain documents, including FOIA releases. The FBI maintains two FOIA Reading Rooms—a virtual one on the Internet and a physical one at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Electronic Reading Room contains copies of some of the most frequently requested records in PDF (portable document format) form. These are available for immediate download and study, free of charge.

The FBI Headquarters Reading Room contains photocopies of a wider variety of previously processed files on subjects of widespread interest. To review files in the Reading Room at FBI Headquarters, you must make an appointment at least 48 hours in advance by calling (202) 324-3789. The major advantage to using photocopies of files in the Reading Room is that the researcher can take notes or select pages to be photocopied (at 10 cents per page) without paying for the entire file.  Copies of any Electronic or Headquarters Reading Room files are also available on disc.

Source is directly from and exactly from page, ""

Our Free US Most Wanted Criminal List Search includes separate searches from the FBI, Department of Public Safety, America’s most wanted criminals and US Marshals most wanted criminals list.  It is comprised of several state and federal agencies most wanted such as the Top Ten FBI Most Wanted, FBI Most Wanted Fugitives, US Marshals Most Wanted, US Marshals Major Cases, Alabama Department of Public Safety, Mississippi Department of Public Safety, Kansas Most Wanted, AFT Most Wanted, US DEA Wanted Fugitives, DTIC Fugitive Top List, US Secret Service Most Wanted, Americas Most Wanted, Connecticut Department of Public Safety and Texas Most Wanted.

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