Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Background checks can be complicated. We are here to help. See below for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help you uncover the “what”, “why”, and “how” in compliant background screening. Please come back and check again as we will continue to share more questions we get from you.
Background checks are used to protect your employees, customers and partners from individuals who may intentionally harm your organization. “Negligent hiring” is essentially the idea that if you could have known that someone you hired was potentially a threat to people, data, and so on, then you should have. Employers in multiple states have been sued for hiring a dangerous or untrustworthy individual when a background check could have revealed this information. Keep in mind that a lawsuit could be the least of your problems if one of your employees is hurt or data or money is stolen from your business.
Because the United States does not have a centralized criminal database, you’ll need a variety of information to ensure the person you are checking is the RIGHT John Smith. This means you’ll need the candidates full name, including middle name, date of birth, social security number, and full current street address. For a more complete search, you’ll also want previous home addresses (up to the limit of the law, typically the last 7 years) and any other known names.
As previously mentioned, the US doesn’t have a centralized criminal database managed by government entities. Private companies have created databases of “tips and leads” which are used by companies such as Kredifi as a starting point of whether a criminal record may exist. Most “run of the mill” criminal records such as robbery, assault and so on are found at the more than 3,000 counties in the United States, so those locations where a candidate has lived or worked are searched using a name, address, and date of birth. Federal criminal records contain different types of crimes and can be often overlooked. These crimes can be violent crimes such as kidnapping, or non-violent crimes such as mail or internet fraud. These records are typically searched using name only and can sometimes result in “false positive” results.
Because each court has to be searched, certain counties or states have been inundated with requests, that may cost them human or technical resources to produce. For this reason they implement their own pricing for searching and procuring these records. These fees may range from trivial to significant, and change regularly. For this reason, background check companies like Kredifi simply pass these fees through to you with no markup.
Just because a person has a criminal record, it does not mean you can’t hire them. In fact, the EEOC, federal, state and county laws are requiring “individual assessment” more often, meaning you should evaluate the person, not just the record. Factors to consider are whether the crime is relevant to the job you are hiring (does a misdemeanor marijuana possession exclude someone from a maintenance job if they have a perfect attendance record?), how long ago the offense was, and what the person has done since then.
Typically 1-3 days. “It depends” is never the preferred answer, but in background screening, some locations take longer to search. Besides the actual search locations, sometimes records may LOOK like the same candidate because they have the same name, or even the same name and address. This can happen sometimes with Mr. Name Sr. and Mr. Name Jr. for example, or just Ms. Very Common Name and another person of the same name, that happened to be born on the same date. Thus, the extra time is taken to ensure that you are evaluating the right candidate.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a consumer protection law that helps ensure that candidates are not unfairly treated because of untrue information. Technically it was originated to protect the use of credit information, which was expanded to include other personal information. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are the two federal agencies that oversee and enforce this act.
The FCRA protects you. It means two basic things in background screening: that you have a right to see your own background check, and that you can dispute any incorrect information. In its simplest form, employers must: Request your authorization in writing in a clear and separate document Provide a statement during that request of your rights under the FCRA Use only the most updated and accurate information about you Notify you in writing if there is a chance a decision will be made about you following a background check, and Provide you notice of this action (called a Pre-Adverse Action) along with a copy of your background report and specific instructions of how to dispute this information. They must also not “give away” your job during this time. Provide a secondary notification if you don’t dispute the information within “a reasonable amount of time” letting you know that you’re no longer being considered.
Provide as much information as correctly as you can. Provide clear and accurate information about your name, including middle name, current and previous addresses, birth date, and social security number (which is used to find previous addresses).