What Exactly Is A Background Check?

A background check is usually an investigation of a person. A report is complied that will show the details that were found after one or more “searches” are conducted. When companies run background checks as part of their pre-employment screening process, the following are the more common search options from which the employer will choose:

o Criminal Checks
o Driving Record
o Credit Report
o Drug Screen
o SSN Verification
o Past Employment Verification
o Education Verification
o Reference Verification

Why Are They So Important For A Company To Run?

It is the responsibility of an employer to take actions that will help provide a safe environment for their employees and customers. There has been a very significant increase in the number of “Negligent Hiring” lawsuits that have been filed against employers in almost every State. For more information about this, do an Internet search on “Negligent Hiring.”

What Information Is Needed To Run The Check?

Different pieces of information are needed to run different reports. Typically you may need:

o Name
o Social Security Number
o Date of Birth
o Current Address
o Driver’s License Number

Why Can’t I Just Run It Myself On The Internet?

The information that is publicly available on the Internet is typically very limited. While some courts do have online access, most have suppressed case information or identifiers that are used to determine if a name match is indeed your subject. Information like Credit Reports and Driving Records are very restricted. Companies use Background Check Companies as they should have someone who can walk into all 3400+ US County Court Houses and have specialized online access to Motor Vehicle Departments and Credit Bureaus.

Do I Need To Have Someone’s Permission?

When an employer is running a background check in order to make a decision on hiring or retention it is required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to have written authorization from the subject of the search. The authorization form should be kept on file for five years.

How Far Back Does The Check Go?

It depends on what types of checks you run. Driving Records usually go back 3,5, or 7 years depending on the State. Credit Reports usually report 7 years. Criminal information can sometimes go back 10-15 years, but it is becoming more common to check for 7 years due to some restrictions imposed by State level Fair Credit Reporting Acts.

How Thorough Is A Background Check?

This can vary based on what types of checks are selected, what level of offenses your subject may have been involved with, how many times they have moved, and to a certain extent, how familiar they are with the criminal system. Background Checks can never be guaranteed to be 100% accurate based on how the system works. However, they go a long way in assisting the employer with providing a safer environment and doing their due diligence.

How Long Does It Take To Do?

Based on the selections made, some searches are instant. Others can take 2-4 business days. The search for criminal records in some outlying areas or when there is a potential record, can take a week.

What Are The Important Legal Issues?

There are a number of legislative acts that manage the relationship between the needs of the employer (security) and the rights of the individual (privacy). Some of these documents are the Federal and State Fair Credit Reporting Acts, The Driver’s Protection Privacy Act, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and numerous other publications related to employment law specifically at the state level. While Background Check companies cannot provide legal guidance, a good company will be knowledgeable in many of these areas and can share some practices that their clients use. However, this should not be seen as a substitute for your own legal counsel.

What If There Is A Mistake On A Background Check?

A Background Check company is known as a Credit Reporting Agency. It is required by the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act that any reports of inaccuracies by the subject of the search are documented and reinvestigated by the CRA.


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