Five Startling Facts That Employers Need To Know About Background Checks


  1. There is no standard service name called a "background check." Background checks are composed from individual searches to a full due-diligent screening composed of multiple searches. The scope of search(es) performed should be consistent and relevant to the position of the employee.

  2. An employment background “screening” is not an "investigation", but rather is only a screening tool to be used in the hiring process. Investigations are conducted by state-licensed private investigative firms and involve in-depth research of a person, interviewing, their habits, their background, etc. Investigations are typically very thorough, costly, and time consuming. In addition, most screening firms are not state licensed to conduct them.

  3. There is no one-stop source or "Nationwide Criminal Database" that exist for employers to check ALL possible criminal records that may exist. Even the FBI's database (NCIC) is erroneous and incomplete and generally not available to private employers! Criminal records can be found in multiple locations.

  4. Unverified criminal records reported from stored data (i.e. "instant" criminal databases) are not FCRA complaint, per the FTC Staff Opinion Letter.  Screening companies are strictly regulated by the Federal Trade Commission via the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and are required by federal law to maintain strict procedures to insure that whenever public record information which is likely to have an adverse effect on a consumer's ability to obtain employment is reported it is complete and up to date. There are several background screening companies who are non-compliant and are selling you "instant" stored database derived criminal records outright without first verifying the accuracy and completeness of the data with the originating source of the record before reporting and putting YOU at risk.

  5. A complete county-level criminal records check with a nationwide average of "same day" turn-around-time, as often seen in advertising/literature, can be misleading. Some background screening companies are relying solely on courts that are available online which are incomplete with data, not updated daily, and may not include both felony and misdemeanor arrests and convictions. However, they are selling as a complete county-level criminal records check. Some jurisdictions are not available online and many online courts have a search disclaimer that their information cannot be used as the official record of the court. The industry average turn around time for county-level criminal checks is typically 1-3 business days and why crucial to understand the source and scope of search when ordering criminal record checks.

Did You Know?

Did you know that there are distinct differences between "database", "statewide", and "county" criminal record checks and that several states do not have "statewide" repository criminal records available?


We have seen numerous companies online selling criminal records, but fail to disclose the source of data on how these checks are actually being performed. To ensure that you are receiving accurate, current, and verified criminal record information, it is crucial that you understand the criminal record source when making critical hiring decisions. There is also a price differential between a "database", "statewide", and "county" criminal record search.


It is important to know the distinction to make sure you know exactly what you're ordering when considering, and comparing, background screening firms and their respective fees.

Dispelling the Myths
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