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Background vhecks can be conducted in-house by the hiring company or through a consumer reporting agency. The national Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets limits for what information can be obtained by the reporting agency, but restrictions do not apply to the hiring company. In addition, state laws differ, particularly in labor codes and fair employment guidelines, about what can and can not be included in the background check. Some basic information, however, will be researched regardless of where the applicant lives.
Information included in background checks can also vary according to the position and employer need. Some are as simple as verifying an applicant’s Social Surity number and confirming residency. Other instances can have investigators seeking a detailed employment history, and communicating with work and personal acquaintances. Background checks begin with the person’s complete birth name and any other name or nickname they have used in employment or conducting business, including credit card use and bill pay. All checks will require learning date of birth, Social Security number and country of residency.
Frequently requested information
Driving records and vehicle registration can be accessed, particularly if the position includes vehicle operation or maintenance. Many investigators will turn to credit records for evidence of periods of instability. This can extend to researching if an applicant has declared bankruptcy or received past worker’s compensation or other government benefits. Standard searches to protect the company from liability include a record of past drug tests, incarceration records and the presence on sex offender lists.
Often employers will have the investigators look into educational records and military records. In these instances it is most likely employers are confirming the related information given at the time of application. Medical records are sometimes consulted, although this is an example of murky territory because certain findings can not lawfully be used to determine employment. Property ownership searches can have a place in the background check process as well.
In some instances, those performing the background check could seek information and testimonials from personal acquaintances, including character references and neighbor interviews.
Investigators routinely find much of the information needed for a background check by checking state and federal records. Criminal background information is usually accessed primarily through county courts. Any criminal history will list past criminal charges along with disposition and the date of the case. Depending on the situation and the severity of the offense, come parties may seek additional information, including police records. Some investigators may choose to seek criminal records through the Department of Justice, although they will have more limited information.
The FCRA prohibits including bankruptcies after 10 years. After seven years civil cases and records of arrest, tax liens, accounts placed for collection and negative information aside from criminal convictions are all prohibited from inclusion under the act.
Mateo Zeske has written professionally for over five years, including articles for "High School Sports," the industrial "How to Get Started with a Talent Agency" and community-oriented e-zines. As a filmmaker Zeske worked with production companies Hit It and Quit It, Road Dog Productions and masterminded the series "Bastardized Product." He holds a Master of Journalism from the University of North Texas.