I am known by friends and coworkers as PI Ross, the queen of creepin around on the internet to find important dirt about something. I don't do it for giggles, I do it in cases where it's very important. Low and behold, I'm not the only one who knows how vital that can be.
Clearly, Erik Knight knows how it is because he created DirtSearch.org, a website that gives you access to information similar to a background check, for free so you can check out the people in your life.
So what kinds of people should you check up on? Well:
1. You - This is a great way to see if anyone has stolen your identity or if there is inaccurate information out there about you that potential employers could see on a background check.
2. Your Date - Um hello?!
3. Your co-workers and clients - You don't want to be dealing with someone that you can't trust right?
4. Medical professionals - It's always important to see who's being honest with you about what they are capable of doing especially when it comes to your health and body.
5. A New Roommate - Obviously you never want to be stuck with a dangerous shady person so do your homework before you agree to let them live with you.
6. The babysitter - Even if you found out about this great babysitter through word of mouth, you should still check them out to make sure there's no red flags that even your friend that recommended them isn't aware of!
So, I was lucky enough to get to ask Erik Knight some questions about his website!
ASK AWAY: In the case of a date or potential roommate, if someone finds some unsettling information after doing a background check, how should they handle the next step?
Erik: Very carefully. This can be extremely unsettling depending on the level of crime. If you just found out your roommate was convicted of murder, I would probably say it's time sneak out and send a moving van. However, most people have minor crimes on their records, they are remorseful and are aware that information is out there. The best thing anyone can do have a discussion, if you're not comfortable doing it by yourself do it in a group setting, but the number one thing is be safe.
ASK AWAY: Was there a specific incident or event that made you start your website?
Erik: There wasn't really a specific event, it was more or less a lot of events. People constantly asked me to find information about people, specifically who they were dating. It took hours to do this and there was a really good chance of missing something and then when I landed on information they always asked for money. Even after paying at times I couldn’t find what I was searching for. We wanted to create a medium that was free, anonymous and that people could use as a starting point to gather information, since I always say information is power.
ASK AWAY: What type of information can my readers expect to (hopefully not) find when using DirtSearch to pull up info on someone?
Erik: DirtSearch is pulling what is available out there. Everything is relative to location and available information but generally, criminal histories, property ownership, company ownership, tax related records, social profiles. A lot of people have traffic tickets that may show up or minor offense but the thing to remember is they are always out there, if something doesn't come up today that you know about in the past; doesn't mean it isn't out there. As more and more cities and counties put things online they fill in all the old data as well, so something old can pop up and be something new pretty quickly.
ASK AWAY: How does DirtSearch.org collect it's information?
Erik: DirtSearch uses API's and search algorithms. We also purchase data from cities and states. All of the data comes from other sites and locations.
ASK AWAY: What's the one thing you hope to do for individuals that utilize DirtSearch.org?
Erik: My hope is that we can educate the consumer, especially with all the identity theft that exists today. Whether they are looking someone else up or want to know what other people can find out about them online, ‘knowledge is power’. Everyone should know what the average everyday person can find on them so they don't walk into a situation blind.
Erik Knight is the founder of founded in 2008. Erik originally created the site when a number of people asked him to find information on people their significant others were dating through public records. After doing this a number of times, he realized there was no single place on the Internet to search for public records inexpensively and quickly.
After his original inception, DirtSearch has continued to grow and improve its accuracy and is the only free online “Background Check” website in the world. The site is fully automated and takes a few minutes to search what would normally take hours or days by hand. Over 130 thousand people a month nationwide use DirtSearch. For more about Erik Knight or DirtSearch, visit.