Town Requires Psychics to Pass Criminal Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 5/29/2013

In the future, professional psychics, fortune tellers, clairvoyants, palm readers, hypnotists, spiritualists, and phrenologists will have to pass a criminal background check in order to ply their trade in Mount Carmel, Tenn.

There aren’t currently have any fortune tellers or psychics working in Mount Carmel, but the Board of Mayor and Aldermen nonetheless passed the new ordinance requiring background checks on May 28, on the recommendation of the town’s city planner. Psychics have operated on Main Street in the past, but there was no indication that they ever caused a problem.

The city planner, Karen Combs, modeled the new ordinance after a similar measure already in effect in nearby Kingsport. As in Kingsport, fortune tellers and psychics wishing to practice in Mount Carmel will be subjected to the same sort of permit application process as individuals wishing to sell alcohol.

In order to predict the future or tell fortunes for a profit, business owners must obtain a permit. Getting that permit requires the proprietor and any employees they may have to pass a criminal background check. If the background check uncovers any convictions for felonies or misdemeanors in the past 10 years, or any pending charges, the permit may be denied. Individuals with convictions for assault, theft, extortion, bribery, fraud, perjury, gambling, or false personage will not be issued permits.

Since fortune tellers tend to move around a lot and use stage names, Mount Carmel probably should consider the use of a criminal  background check tool that has a national scope and accounts for any past or present aliases. Though the city has opted for a fingerprint-based background check, another viable option would be using a tool from, namely the US AliasSEARCH. This tool combines the power of’s national background check tool, US OneSEARCH, with a Social Security Number trace. The SSN trace will reveal any aliases or maiden names that the individual may have used. Then these names will be run through the comprehensive US OneSEARCH database, which contains over 450 million records culled from state and local databases around the country. If any criminal convictions or pending charges exist for the SSN provided by the individual in question, US AliasSEARCH should find them.

According to Combs, the typical pattern for a psychic or a fortune teller is to arrive in a new city, set up shop for a few months, and then leave. This means that a lengthy background check process would probably deter psychics from coming to Mount Carmel at all. But with an instant tool like US AliasSEARCH, the background check could be facilitated very quickly, enabling psychics to stick to their transient business model.

The ordinance was approved by a vote of 6 to 1, but there is still a chance for town officials to reconsider at the second and final reading on June 25. If the ordinance remains in place, officials believe that they will have succeeded in protecting their city’s residents from individuals wishing to defraud or otherwise take advantage of them through fortune telling.


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