Understanding The Purpose For Criminal Background Checks

A background check is also known as a background investigation and it is a process that involves looking up several records for a specific person or for an organization. These records include:

  • Criminal records
  • Financial records
  • Commercial records

There are several reasons why someone may need to have or perform a background check on someone.

Employer Requested

One of the most common reasons for having a background check performed is for employment reasons. An employer may screen potential employees if the employee’s job description involves high security issues or a position that involves trust. Examples of this type of employment includes: school positions, banking positions, hospital positions, airport positions and government positions. Many times the checks are conducted by a government agency, but background checks can also be performed by private companies as well.

The fees for this type of background check can become expensive, but the price is dependent on the amount and type of information that is requested. The typical information that is requested for an employment background check includes:

  • Previous employment
  • Credit history
  • Criminal history

These types of checks are used by employers to determine a job candidate’s ability to complete the require details of the job based on their character, fitness and qualifications. They are also used to prevent hiring employees who may be security risks. However, background checks can also be used for illegal reasons such as employment discrimination or identity theft.

Sometimes an employer will have a background check performed to verify information a job applicant provided on a resume. A lot of the information that is presented on resumes differs from the true information that belongs to the candidate. This way the employer can choose the employee that is best suited for the position. It is the right of the employer to make sure the employee that is hired will continue to make sure the workplace is safe for everyone.

Handgun Request

The Brady Bill introduced another type of background check into the system. This law requires that anyone who wants to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer must submit to and pass a criminal background check. Those who want to purchase restricted firearms such as a machine gun must also pass a criminal background check.

Special Security Concerns

People who work in high security areas such as ports of entry and airports must also pass a background check. This helps to maintain the country’s borders as well as making sure that different methods of transportation that are considered high security are protected by trusted people.

There are various laws that prevent people who do not pass background checks from working with certain groups of people. Those wishing to work with the children or the elderly must pass background checks.

The Pre-Employment Screening Process In The United States

The information that is contained in consumer reports is considered sensitive information. As a result, there are laws in place to make sure that the information is obtained legally and used for legal reasons. This is seen with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It regulates the information that is contained in these records by:

  • Regulating how the information is used in regards to adverse decisions
  • Notifying the applicant the information may be collected
  • The proper safekeeping of the records
  • The proper destruction of the records

If the consumer report or background check is used as part of an adverse decision, the applicant must be notified and presented with several pieces of documentation including disclosures and a summary of rights. The applicant also has the right to know the information that was used against them and where the information came from.

An applicant must consent before an employer performs a background check or get a consumer report. However, a pre-employment screening does not appear on an applicant’s credit report, and therefore, does not affect an applicant’s credit history.

The state of Florida passed a bill in 1999. This bill states that an employer will not be held liable or negligent if they hire an employee that is considered high risk if the employer followed the proper screening process and no negative information was found during the background check.

The types of checks that employers used to verify were criminal history, credit history and employment history. However, with recent changes, employers are now choosing to perform additional checks such as skill assessment checks, credential verification, sex offender registry checks and driving records. Employers are also verified educational information to make sure that it is correct.

The Information That May Be Revealed In a Background Check

The amount of information contained in these checks is extensive, but the information that is revealed is dependent on the reason for the check in the first place. Someone seeking local employment at a retail store would not undergo the same type of check for someone who wants to work for the Federal government.

Criminal records will include information such as arrest information, sex offender information and incarceration. A third party background check cannot guarantee the accuracy of these types of records, so it is best to gather this information directly from the state.

Citizenship background checks help verify the legal status of someone who is working in the United States. Social security numbers are verified to prevent undocumented workers from being hired.

Driving records are checked for employees who are seeking jobs in the transportation sector. The employer will check to make sure that the license is valid and check the driving history of the potential employee.

Background checks are critical to ensure that the workplace environment stays safe. It also increases the chances that the best candidates are hired for the job.