What Does a Criminal Background Check Look For?

A recent study found that over 96 percent of hiring businesses use background checks. With the help of a background check, business owners are able to vet a person before bringing them aboard. Whether you are using a background check during the hiring process or you are having a background check performed by a potential employer, educating yourself about what this entails is crucial.

Are you curious about what types of things are assessed during a routine criminal background check? If so, check out the useful information below.

Social Security Number Validation

When filling out an application for a potential job, you will have to provide certain information that verifies your ability to work in the United States. One of the main things an employer will need to know to verify this information is your Social Security number. With this number, a potential employer can verify that you are an American citizen.

Your Social Security number will also provide a breakdown of addresses you have lived at in the past. If you are a business owner looking for the right tools to perform comprehensive background checks, then using resources provided by companies like Background Hawk is crucial. Taking the time to learn more about the background screening tools at your disposal is a great way to choose the best ones for your company.

Criminal Records Will Show Up on a Background Check

One of the main things business owners want to know when conducting a background check is whether or not a potential employee has a criminal record. If a person has been convicted of multiple crimes, then an employer may want to avoid hiring them due to the problems this can cause later on. During a criminal background check, certain things will show up like:

  • Records of incarceration
  • Court orders, decrees, and judgments
  • Arrests
  • Felony/misdemeanor convictions
  • Sex offenses

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibits records involving civil suits from showing up in standard background checks. This law also keeps arrests that have happened over seven years ago out of these reports.

Employers Can Pull Credit Reports

Before hiring a new team member, the average business owner wants to know as much information as possible about their background. This is why most background checks include credit reports. With a snapshot of a person’s financial history, a business owner can assess how responsible a person has been in the past. The credit reports a business owner receives during a background check will include information about:

  • Outstanding loans
  • Accounts currently in collections
  • Bankruptcy filings

The FCRA prohibits any collection over seven years or older from showing up on background checks. There are also rules in place that prohibit bankruptcies older than 10 years old from showing up.

Fingerprint Background Checks

Another way someone may look into your background is through your fingerprints. Just as the name implies, this uses a person’s fingerprints and personal information to find out about their history. One of the biggest benefits of this type of search is that all records definitely belong to the person in question.

The purpose and nature of the fingerprint will vary. It depends on what type of information has been requested from the person who wants the background check. In most cases, these checks involve the use of the FBI criminal records database. Another option is the AFIS database system. This can be searched along with or instead of the FBI system.

Misdemeanors and Arrests on Background Checks

When someone conducts a criminal background check, it will usually show any misdemeanor criminal convictions, along with any pending cases that are going on. It is important to note that misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, and they don’t carry the extreme sentences that felonies do. Some examples of misdemeanors include disorderly conduct, public intoxication, trespassing, and vandalism.

With arrests, things can get tricky. If the arrest did not result in a conviction, it could appear on some of the criminal background checks that are run. This is true if the filing for the case was within the prior seven years. This is allowed by both state and federal law. However, some employers exclude these to ensure EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines are met.

Some people believe that criminal convictions more than seven years old will not appear on background checks. This isn’t the case for most states. While some restrict the release of these records (if they are over seven or 10 years old), others don’t. If you are concerned about this, it is best to find out the rules in your area before applying for a certain job.

As you can see, you can find a lot of useful information in the standard criminal background check. With this, employers can figure out if a candidate is right for the position. The key to getting a comprehensive background check is working with the right provider.


Employers Should Share All Background Check Reports Before Revoking Job Offers

A federal judge ruled an employer did not comply with requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when it failed to send a rejected candidate a final background check report and required notices.

Lemuel Wright was offered a job as a maintenance technician at Mt. Laurel Crossing Apartments, a residential community owned by Lincoln Property Company, headquartered in Dallas. The job offer was contingent on the results of a criminal background check and drug screen.

Lincoln received an initial, in-progress report from a background screening firm showing a misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence and two separate drug-related felony convictions. Records show that a cover letter, a copy of the report and a summary of rights under the FCRA were sent to Wright at this time. A week later, a more comprehensive, final report was provided to Lincoln, containing the same criminal history information as well as additional information such as credit history results. Lincoln then sent Wright a letter, revoking its offer. Lincoln does not dispute that it neglected to send Wright the final report.

Wright argued that Lincoln violated the FCRA “by taking adverse employment action against [him] based on a consumer report, without first providing [him] with a copy of the pertinent consumer report” and by failing to provide him with time to contest the report before an adverse decision was taken.

“The FCRA requires that an employer provide job applicants with their background report, summary of rights, and a ‘real opportunity’ to contest the contents of the background report before the employer relies on the report to take an adverse action against the applicant,” wrote U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter, the judge in the case before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

While the amount of time an employer must provide an applicant to contest a report prior to taking adverse action is not specified under the FCRA, Congress has focused on a five-day minimum and eight days as a “reasonable period,” Pratter added.

Lincoln decided to revoke Wright’s offer of employment based on his felony convictions. The company argued that there are no material differences between the criminal history included in the earlier report and the subsequent final report.

“Lincoln may have decided conclusively to revoke the offer of employment based on Mr. Wright’s felony convictions, but Mr. Wright remained unable to contest the full information upon which Lincoln relied even if he indeed received the [earlier] transmittal, given that it only included his criminal history,” Pratter wrote in the court’s opinion.

The court denied Lincoln’s motion for summary judgment and concluded that a jury should resolve the dispute.

“The court’s ruling does not equate to a blanket requirement that an employer provide all copies of background reports to rejected job applicants or terminated employees,” said Pamela Devata, a partner in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw. “It is possible the jury will find that, under these facts, a second pre-adverse action notice was not required. That said, employers that receive corrected or more comprehensive reports after sending the initial report should assess the new report to determine whether to send a subsequent pre-adverse action notice.”

The fact that the two reports contained the same conviction information on which the job offer was revoked didn’t spare the employer from the expense and burden of a jury trial, she added.

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