If you’ve ever needed to have a background check run for an employee or had a company ask to have one run on you, you’ve probably wondered how they get the information. Or maybe questioned how they decide what to show you and what not to. There is far more information on a person’s record than what shows on their background check. Most people have received a speeding ticket at least once before right? Here’s some of the ins and outs of processing a background check.
For starters, there are different levels of a check that depend on the company and the job position of the candidate. There’s motor vehicle records, a National Criminal Search that covers an alias search, address history, the National Sex Offender Search, and the Global Terrorist Watch List. There’s also county criminal searches, county civil searches, federal searches both criminal and civil, eviction searches, credit checks, license verification, and health care monitoring just to name a few.
Name, Social Security number and date of birth are required to run a National Criminal Database Search. This report covers an array of searches, but it isn’t a very thorough search when it comes to crimes at a county level (more information to come later on this topic). The main reasons to run this search would be to verify SSN validity, alias history, and lifetime address history. It will also pull all violent and sex offender registries. Based on any county information that does pull from the National Database, a county criminal search will need to be ran to verify the information is accurate and up to date.
When it comes to actually processing a background check, you have to be able to take the information the applicant provided and match it to anything pulling on their background. Every county has identifying information for each case, but laws protecting privacy make it very hard to get this information as a reporting agency. FCRA laws are very strict, so accuracy is extremely important. This is why there will be times, a processor will ask for a photocopy of the applicant’s driver’s license. Violent and sex offender registries as well as State Department of Corrections records will oftentimes have photo images that show up with the case information. We find it’s vital to verify the applicant’s image to confirm any sex offender hits, as they are very serious crimes.
When a county criminal search is ran, a processor needs to filter the information that is pulled. Counties will show information matching first and last name only; it’s the processors job to weed through the information in search of reportable information, i.e. guilty or dismissed without prejudice cases from the last 7 years where the applicant was an adult or tried as an adult. Most states allow reporting of criminal history past 7 years; the states that don’t are California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Texas and Washington.
Processors have to be diligent in knowing what they can and can’t report. Our privacy is important to us which makes the background check process a sensitive issue. A processor is the middle man between the customer ordering the background check and the applicant. They have to mitigate between reporting what the customer needs to know, all the while seeing everything that a person may have on their background. It’s an impartial job and an important one, to keep all parties within their legal rights.