Over the course of the holiday season, many of us have invited people we don't necessarily know that well into our homes, but should we be more careful about who we trust?
According to background checking website DirtSearch.org there is good reason to be paranoid. As cases of identity fraud grow the world over, the founders of the site – who claim to conduct 250,000 searches a month – argue that you can never be too careful about making sure the people around you are legitimate.
"How well do you know your sister's new boyfriend, the person you met on an online dating site or even your new housekeeper or babysitter?" site founder Erik Knight said.
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Dallas-based 48-year old psychotherapist Christina Steinorth-Powell told CNBC that she has used background checking websites to screen potential dates.
"After I divorced and re-entered the dating pool, I background checked men who interested me before dating them," said Christina. "With all the stories of women falling victim to men who were still married or lead some other type of double life, I hoped to try to avoid that type of situation," she added.
Another user of the site, Chris Martin, based in Arizona, told CNBC he used background checks to investigate business associates.
"Most of my background checks are for people I am going to do business with. Before I invest too much of my time or money into things I like to know if the person I am dealing with is actually on the up and up," said Martin.
Martin said on one occasion he researched a potential contact who he was concerned appeared "shady."
"Once I found out he was being sued by previous business partners and had been arrested several times, I backed out of the deal," he added.
The approach may seem overly paranoid to some, but as cases of identity fraud surge worldwide, DirtSearch.org argues it pays to be more vigilant. Background checking websites offer a platform to collate online information from public records, offering insight into personal information from criminal records to business transactions.
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