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Creepy app runs free background checks instantly

Got a hot date this weekend? Don't forget to check if he or she has a criminal record or a strange alias. After all, there's no excuse to skip running a background check on any random stranger when there's a free app that'll do all the detective work in seconds.

The app is appropriately named Background Check and is brought to us by the folks behind public record aggregation service BeenVerified. It was actually made quite a while ago, but was banned from Apple's App Store until recently.

Now it's back — and this time there are both iOS and Android flavors. Either version is free to download and you'll get one free search report each month. Additional search reports can be purchased directly through the app. 

The way the app works is quite simple. You pick whether you want to run a background check or an email search on an individual and then enter a little bit of information. If you're too lazy to enter the necessary details by hand, you can choose to just select people from your phone's contacts.

If you decide to run a background check, you'll have to provide a first and last name. In exchange you'll see criminal records, property information, the names of someone's relatives and neighbors, as well as any aliases. If you select the email search option on the other hand, you'll provide an email address to see links to photos, videos, social networks, or blogs associated with that address.

But just how thorough are the results?

Well, it's a mixed bag.

The app was unable to bring up anything on yours truly when it came to background checks. (This is likely due to the fact that I have only lived in the U.S. for half my life and do not have too much data sitting around in public records. Either that or I'm super spy and have lived under a top secret alternate identity the whole time.) And when it came to email searches, the app provided nothing more than a Google query would spit out — heck, it even left many of my social media accounts out.

But that's just me, the double-oh-seven of msnbc.com's tech/sci section.

You see, when I ran a background check on one of my co-workers — after asking her for permission, so that I don't appear to be a total creep — I found that the results were far more helpful. I was able to track down where she had lived in the last 20 years and even discovered a P.O. box she kept many years ago. I also saw her age, her home's appraised value, and a list of her relatives. I didn't discover whether she had a shady past as a bank robber or not and the results of the email search on her were similar to my own — spotty at best.

So what's the takeaway? Background Check is a handy dandy app which will let you easily see publicly available information about people you would like to know better. It won't give you anything that you couldn't find by running a bunch of Google searches and sifting through the public record data of several states, but it will speed up the process.

Basically: It's fun, mostly harmless, and slightly creepy — but you shouldn't use it in situations where a thorough background check is genuinely important.

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Rosa Golijan writes about tech here and there. She's obsessed with Twitter and loves to be liked on Facebook.