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Questions About Background Checks

womancomputerFrequently Asked Questions About Background Checks
How long does it take to conduct a background check?
How long this takes depends on how much investigating you want done, how many different components need to be looked into and what type of check is being done. A background check for hiring purposes can be done in 24 hours but may take as long as a week.

When a background check is done how much is included?
Again, this depends on what the purpose is for the background check. If you’ve applied for a job they will probably look into your previous employment history and conduct a criminal records check. Many employers are now going into more depth and will check your credit history, driving record, education and personal references. It all depends on the type of job you’ve applied for. If you applied to work in a warehouse you will not be investigated to the same extent as someone applying for a job handling money or a management position.

How do they check if someone has a criminal record?
Employers can do a criminal records check in a number of different ways. Most companies will check for any felony convictions through the county courthouse in your jurisdiction. If they want to look further they will check for both felony and misdemeanor convictions. For any felonies they will go through your local county courthouse but for misdemeanors they will check the records in the city where you live or your county seat.
The most thorough way to do this is with a Social Security Number Trace and by conducting felony and misdemeanor checks in all the counties and cities in which you have previously lived. Sometimes a background check will delve further by checking all the county courthouses and county seats that are adjacent to your present home plus all your previous homes. This would be the most accurate and complete type of criminal background check. It will cost more, but for certain companies it’s important to have a thorough background check for their peace of mind.

Is it best to tell potential employers up front about my criminal history?
Yes by all means! If you’ve been convicted of a crime in the past this won’t necessarily keep you out of the running for a job. Most of us have made mistakes in our past and a lot of companies understand this. If this is your situation, just explain everything up front by giving your side of the story. It looks worse for you if you say nothing and they discover this on their own. You just cannot lie on a job application and expect to be called back for an interview.

How much do companies pay for a background check on someone?
The cost of background checks can vary widely depending on several factors:
• How comprehensive the search is
• What kinds of background information is being sought
• The volume of background reports requested by that company or agency per year, as there might be a “bulk rate” for a high number of reports.

Do I have any recourse if I’m passed over for employment due to a background check?
A background check for employment that is done by an outside screening company and not the employer must abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You have the right to dispute any information with the outside screening company, just like you have the right to dispute information from a credit bureau. If you got turned down for a job due to information contained in your background check, you should have gotten a letter informing you of this and information on how to obtain your report so that you can dispute inaccurate information.
To be clear, this process applies only to screening companies that conduct background checks for employers. If the employer wants to do the background check themselves by checking public records and they find out something about you on their own, you do not have the same rights that apply under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. So you need to know who did the background check on you. You can also check all public records on your own by going over to your local courthouse, the one that provided the background information to the screening company. Look at the court records with your own eyes and if something is wrong or the record is incomplete discuss this with the clerk of the court and find out how to correct the record.
Laws may vary state to state when it comes to applicants’ rights to obtain the information from public records that was used in making a hiring decision. In California an employer that uses public record information obtained from any source, by law must provide the job applicant or employee a way to receive a copy of those public records.

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