Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about your background check? We can help
Questions about your background check?
We can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
This information is not intended to be legal advice. It is recommended that you speak with your Legal Counsel to ensure compliance with applicable law.
When an applicant self-discloses they have a criminal record and they provide the location where the case was tried, why does my background screening provider sometimes return a result of no record found?
There are several reasons why a screening provider (CRA) may not legally report a criminal record, even when the record is located by the CRA and the applicant has disclosed to the employer a record exists. First, it may be a case where the record of the charge and subsequent adjudication is outside of the reportability scope for the jurisdiction governing the applicant’s legal rights. Regardless if the applicant indicates the record exists, the CRA must follow both the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and any local or state laws applicable in the governing jurisdiction (normally, where the applicant resides.) In some situations, court records of the offense may not be publicly available because the record has been sealed or expunged. Additionally, if a case is housed at a lower court (often in the case of an infraction or minor misdemeanor), the case will not be located in a standard county level criminal record search.
How do background screening companies (Consumer Reporting Agencies or CRAs) search for criminal records to potentially report in an employment background screen?
The primary sources of criminal records are at the courts where each criminal case is adjudicated. This may be either a county, municipal or local court for state criminal offenses or a federal district court for federal criminal offenses. For many courts, this may include an in-person search for records. CRAs may also utilize criminal database options, where available, to identify the existence of a potential criminal record. However, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires CRAs to confirm any potential records located through database options at the primary court of record prior to reporting for use in employment decision-making.
Why do employers do background checks?
Background checks provide employers with the information needed to make informed hiring decisions. Typically, employers are not looking for “dirty laundry” as they are attempting to verify the truth to the applicants claimed History. Do potential applicants have the education or training necessary for the position? Is there criminal activity that could be a potential liability for the employer? Is the applicant truthful about the claims of former employers? These are only a few things that employers look at. Employers generally do not assume that applicants are lying or puffing their history. The background check is often a final step taken by employers to help ensure a sound hiring decision and protect the employer from a number of potential risks.
For many employers, a background check is a reliable way of verifying claims made by job seekers during the hiring process.Overstating educational qualifications or enhancing job histories can be problematic with potential hires. Wouldn’t you feel more assured in knowing that the people you might work with have been screened to ensure they are qualified for the jobs they hold?
Employers are responsible for their employees’ welfare while working in the capacity of their employment. They are also responsible for the safety of customers, vendors and visitors.
If an employer hires an employee who harms another employee, the employer may face claims for negligent hiring. Employers are vicariously liable under the doctrine of “respondeat superior” for the negligent acts or omissions by their employees in the course of employment. The key phrase is “in the course of employment”. For an act to be considered within the course of employment, it must either be authorized by the employer or be so closely related to an authorized act that an employer should be held responsible.
Theft from within the company is of the greatest loss to employers. Background checks help employers make informed hiring decisions. In turn, this can help employers minimize the risk of theft.
Honesty and Integrity
Is the applicant honest? A background check will help employers determine if a potential applicant misstates or fabricates information made by the applicant. If an employer questions the honesty of an applicant, it is enough to move on to a potential applicant that shares the same skill and provided truthful information during the hiring process.
A bad hire can reflect poorly on an organization reputation based on the behavior of a”bad” hire. The background check can help an employer safeguard their reputation by hiring the most qualified, responsible employee.
What is included in a background check?
A background check can investigate many different aspects of a potential candidate’s background. There are many determining factors that go into the decision of what will be searched by any employer.
Is the employer hiring for a particular department or level of management? A background screening program would take into consideration thing like: what is the level of risk? Is there a fiduciary responsibility in the job? Is there necessary training or education required? Each type of check will reveal different information pertinent to that check. A candidate should get clarification from the organization requesting the background check in order to understand what specific searches are being requested.
Who does the background check/How do they get the information?
Most employers know the value and perform some form of employment background check. The employer decides what searches to include in the background checks performed on their potential hires. The type of business or the position to be filled are among the factors which may be considered by the employer in determining what is included in a background check. The risk and budget for any given position or industry helps determine the use of a Consumer Reporting Agency CRA (background company) or performing selected services in-house.
Regulated industries such as transportation and health care have very stringent screening and testing requirements dictated by various laws.
Contrary to some common misconceptions about background screening, there isn’t a single centralized government database that houses information about you that is accessed by commercial background screening companies. Each service provided are access directly from the source that maintains the information. For example, criminal records are housed at courts, education records are housed with the educational institutions and driving records are maintained through each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
How can I prepare for a background check?
In today’s job market, it has become pretty standard for most companies to do some kind of background check. If you, as a potential hire, can think of it as simply confirming information you have provided, it can be less stressful and reassuring if you have been honest. So the first and foremost form of preparation is to be HONEST. If you lie or fib, you can lose an opportunity that direct honesty might not have eliminated you as a candidate.
In order for a potential employer to determine a good fit for a particular position, confirmation of accurate information is essential
The best way to prepare for your background check is as follows:
- Have a copy of your resume handy, along with the best phone number and email address for AccuSource to contact you at if they have questions regarding the information that you’ve provided.
- Research your own history, including employment dates, job titles and salaries, so that you can be accurate on past information rather than guessing previous dates.
- In case schools or past employers don’t have records available to confirm your background history, locate transcripts or diplomas in advance and collect past paycheck stubs or W-2s.
- Be prepared to provide your current and past addresses, your social security number, any maiden names used (if applicable) and/or your driver’s license number.
- Be honest and as accurate as possible when providing your information. Employers may not even consider you for employment if you are found to be dishonest.
- Provide professional references that know your work history and/or work performance. Know their phone number and email
- Provide personal references that can verify you character and/or your personal life. Provide current contact information
- Answer questions completely and legibly.
How far back do background checks go?
The depth of a background check search depends on the type of data returned and the location of that data. Criminal searches may be limited to 7 or 10 years depending on the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions allow reporting of all available records. Certain searches such as verification of employment, education or professional licenses may not have time restrictions and are defined by the organization requesting the background check.
How long does it take and what is the process?
Typically and background check takes between 1 and 3 business days.The nature and scope of the research can play a large factor in turnaround time. There are extenuating circumstances that can delay a background check.The list below will help you understand what causes delays and how you can help:
- AccuSource has difficulty establishing contact with your former employers or educational institutions.In such cases, AccuSource may ask you to supply a W-2 or additional information to help substantiate the information in your application or resume. Having this documentation handy and providing it quickly will help speed up the process.
- Courts are inundated with request and can be backlogged.
- If an employer is requiring drug testing, A Medical Review Officer may be contact you regarding a sample’s results.
- International background searches might require additional information which can delay the process. International criminal searches and employment of education verification will typically require more time to receive a response.
Tips to expedite your background check
Your prompt response to an employer’s request for additional information is imperative. If the background company contacts you directly, the quicker you respond to their requests will enable the background check from be held up.
Providing such things as a W2 for clarification of employment history or a copy of a diploma or transcripts to verify education.
The general point is, you can help speed up or delay the process simply by how you respond to needed information,or clarification
What is a Social Security trace and validation?
A search of credit headers and other database sources to provide history of the applicant’s names and addresses as they originate from credit headers. This also validates the number’s authenticity, as well as year and place of issuance. It is used as a criterion in checking criminal history. Addresses and names provided within an social security search can be used to determine what names and jurisdictions to search for criminal activity.
Younger applicants and individuals new to country, who might not have developed a credit history yet, might not have a SSN history. Typographical and /or transposition of numbers at the time a Social Security Number is used by a creditor to initiate a credit inquiry can create errors in the data. Interpretation of data is critical; although the search can uncover evidence of identity theft, fraud must not be assumed without further investigation such as validation directly through the Social Security Administration.
**An employer should never make a direct hiring decision based upon the information contained in the Social Security Trace; however, the information in a trace report can be the basis for further research of an applicant.
Why do employers check credit history?
A search of the credit bureau files to provide a profile of the applicant’s financial history.
This search can show additional addresses and names and consumer credit activity covering a seven year period detailing overdue or slow accounts, charge offs, collections, suits, tax liens, public records, judgments and bankruptcies.
This is heavily restricted search requiring authorization. Young applicants and individuals new to the country, might not have developed a credit history yet. Typographical and /or transposition of numbers at the time a Social Security Number is used by a creditor to initiate a credit inquiry can create errors in the data. Applicants must be given information on how to contact the credit repository to request changes if errors are found in the report. Material is available through the AccuSource online system for learning how to read credit reports.
Employer’s request credit reports for applicants involved with fiduciary responsibility, handling inventory or knowledge of sensitive company information. A credit report can alert an employer to an applicant’s sense of responsibility and if there can be a potential risk of theft or dishonest behavior. A credit report requires experience to analyse of should be used with caution.
Providing a credit report for the purpose of employment, does not disclose a credit score and will not adversely impact your credit score.
Why do employers check criminal history?
A search for criminal convictions at the appropriate county, state or federal courts. Records are available in each county throughout the United States.
AccuSource performs a 10-year records search for misdemeanor convictions. Felony convictions are reported as far back as state guidelines permit and/or are available from the courts and are legal to report. Reveals felony (i.e. murder, rape, lewd acts/sexual abuse on a child, robbery etc.) and related misdemeanor convictions (i.e. spousal abuse, DUI, shoplifting, petty theft, possession of a controlled substance etc.). Completed reports can include: case numbers, offense and disposition dates, charge, and type of charge, disposition and sentence. In addition to convictions, open cases (as state guidelines permit) as well as active warrants will be reported.
Courts are searched directly at the source in person, via court Internet websites or direct connection into the court index.
A criminal record search is a common search within a background check.
AccuSource is generally considered “Consumer Reporting Agencies” and are regulated under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). AccuSource has a responsibility to use reasonable procedures to ensure maximum accuracy in reporting of information.Even with reasonable procedures, however, cases of mistaken identity can still occur and often are the result of the information available in a public record. For example, while courts often require a name and date of birth to retrieve a matching record, the courts usually do not include Social Security Numbers with the records.
In a case of mistaken identity, or where a background report otherwise may be inaccurate, the FCRA requires consumer reporting agencies to have a process in place to allow the subject of the report (a job candidate) to dispute the inaccuracies in their background report and require the consumer reporting agency to timely investigate the dispute.
Will I get hired if I have criminal records?
Employers’ use of criminal record information in making employment decisions is subject to applicable Federal and State laws and regulations (including the FCRA).
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and certain state statutes require that employers evaluate a variety of factors when considering the impact of a criminal record in making their hiring decisions.
Such considerations may include:
- How recent was the conviction?
- What was the nature and gravity of the offense, and is it relevant to the job?
- What are the facts or circumstances surrounding the offense or conduct?
- How many offenses has the candidate been convicted of?
- Is there evidence that the candidate performed the same type of work, post-conviction, with the same or a different employer, with no known incidents of criminal conduct?
- What is the length and consistency of employment history before and after the offense or conduct?
- Does the candidate have employment or character references and any other information regarding fitness for the particular position?
- Has the candidate engaged in rehabilitation efforts, such as education/training?
- Will the position involve working with sensitive populations such as children or the elderly?
- You should contact your prospective employer to discuss their adjudication process as it relates to the evaluation of criminal records.
What is included in a motor vehicle search
It is a search of the state Bureau of Motor Vehicle records for driver information. An employer may check the motor vehicle (or driving record) history of their candidates, particularly those who will drive the employer’s vehicle or operate machinery, or whose job duties include frequent driving.Information can include license status, license class, issue date, expiration date, violations, suspensions, licensee address, date of birth and physical description.
These records vary by state, providing different information. The MVR record is the best source for verifying an applicant’s DOB. The number of years shown on driving reports varies by state, so criminal traffic offenses may not always appear on the MVR report; only the suspension/cancellation will show. The MVR report can be affected if the license number provided by the applicant is an ID card number or if it is not formatted correctly for the provided state. Please note, certain states require specific applicant release forms.
Employers are generally looking to uncover a history of unsafe driving or poor decision making that may put the employer, its employees, its customers, or the general public at risk.
Why do employers check my employment history?
Verifies a person’s past and/or present work experience (including military verification) which can let employers know if the applicant is being honest about length of employment. AccuSource uses direct contact with the employer’s Human Resources Department or through online/automated verification systems.
Information Verified: Information can include dates of employment, position, salary, reason for leaving, eligibility for rehire, disciplinary action taken, dependability, and general work duties.
Employers become very concerned when a candidate claims he or she has years of experience, when in fact they do not or when a candidate misrepresents their past titles, achievements or responsibilities. These are examples of the kinds of discrepancies that could come up in the background check which may indicate to employers that the candidate is being intentionally dishonest.
Discrepancies between the information provided by the candidate and returned by AccuSource generally will be noted on the background report.Therefore, during the hiring process it’s best to provide employers with the most accurate information possible regarding your employment history to avoid any potential inconsistencies and to avoid a delay in processing the report.
Why do employers check my education or professional license?
Verifies a person’s educational history or professional license which can help eliminate falsified or overstated credentials.
Information is verified by direct contact with the institution’s Office of the Registrar or the issuing institution or through online/automated verification systems.
Information can include: type of degree, attendance, date of graduation, major studies, GPA, training, certificates, degree earned, license issued and license expiration.
Employers are looking to verify that you attended the school or professional program you said you attended, and that you completed the degree or credential in the field of study to the extent you indicated. If an applicant claims that they have earned a degree or are licensed in a particular vocation, and they did not, this would raise a red flag to an potential employer.
Employers are looking to know that the issuing body is recognized or supervised by an official educational accrediting body that awards academic degrees and diplomas that are considered legitimate.
Why do employers ask for professional references?
Employers find that questioning a professional reference can enlighten them to character issues, particular work habits and work performance. In certain instances, employers request personal references rather than professional reference which can be as helpful as its counterpoint, however professional references are typically considered more credible than personal references.
Why do employers do drug testing?
Subject to applicable law and the employer’s policies, an employment-related drug test may be performed prior to starting a new job. Also, employers use drug testing to help ensure and safe, secure and drug-free work environment. Drug testing is a very controlled process to ensure the integrity of the sample provided by an applicant. This process is mandated so sample tested are not adulterated with or mixed with other samples.
Although there are many different types of tests available, most employers used urine-based test testing. However, others methods such as hair, saliva and breath testing are also available to employers.
The samples are tested at laboratories that set cutoff levels designed to accurately identify the drugs being tested. The process to establish cutoff levels will also help identify the most used adulterants and rule out passive exposure as a reasonable explanation for a positive result.
Today’s confirmation testing methods are very sophisticated in identifying the exact substance that is present in the drug screening specimen. As a further measure to assure accuracy and integrity of the drug screening process, employers may utilize the services of Medical Review Officers to afford donors an opportunity to provide legitimate medical explanations for any positive test results.
All these precautions are designed to help protect the donor and help alleviate concerns over their prescribed medication use and consumption of foods.
For commercial driving positions regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, regular drug testing is required as a condition of employment.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires certain background checks and drug tests be performed by regulated employers of individuals working in safety sensitive positions. All DOT-regulated employers also are required to perform drug and alcohol testing, as well as verify that the candidate did not violate the drug and alcohol testing regulations during any previous safety sensitive employment.
Every regulated transportation employee must take, and pass, a pre-hire (or pre-assignment) drug test before being permitted to perform any regulated safety-sensitive work. DOT regulations require transportation employers to administer random drug and/or alcohol testing programs that ensure the testing of a certain percentage of workers each year. And, all transportation employers are required to conduct reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol tests when warranted.
There are also other employment screening requirements specific to the various transportation modes (i.e., airlines, railroads, municipal transit, pipeline, etc.).
For example, for covered truck and bus operations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also requires a three-year driving history on all commercial driver candidates, which means that these employers must review motor vehicle records from every state in which a driver has held a license during the past three years.
FMCSA also requires at least three years of employment history, as well as three years of drug and alcohol violation test history, be verified with previous employers.
Additional requirements related to drug and alcohol testing and physical qualifications are mandated. Post hire FMCSA regulations require an annual review of each driver’s motor vehicle records and every two years the commercial driver must renew their physical examination.
How is Medicinal Marijuana viewed by employers in drug testing?
Several states have passed medical Marijuana laws, making it legal under state law to use Marijuana for certain medicinal purposes when such use is authorized based upon “physician recommendation.”
Regardless of state laws authorizing medical Marijuana use, Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act, which means that under federal law Marijuana cannot be “legally prescribed” for use in any state.
Also, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has made its position on this issue for regulated companies clear – DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation does not authorize “medical marijuana” use under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result. Even though Marijuana is a prohibited Schedule I drug, there is currently an FDA approved Schedule III medication (Marinol), with a second Schedule III medication in the FDA approval pipeline that can be prescribed and legally used to meet patient needs under federal law.
If prescribed, these two drugs could cause a confirmed positive marijuana metabolite result, but the prescription would constitute a legitimate medical explanation.
Some states allow employers to prohibit the use of medical Marijuana for safety and other reasons. In these states, employers may be able to maintain a zero-tolerance drug-free workplace policy. In other states, however, they may be prohibited or restricted from taking adverse employment actions.
Whether or not a company decides to accommodate medical Marijuana is dependent upon a variety of laws.
Do employers check E-Verify?
If you’ve been employed in the U.S. anytime over the last several decades, you’ve probably filled out a Form I-9 and provided identification documents that prove you’re authorized to work in the U.S.
But more recently, the federal government has introduced a system called E-Verify that allows employers to further validate your identity and your U.S. employment eligibility.
E-verify is an online program managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) where employers can verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.
Who Uses E-Verify?
Unlike Form I-9, which is a requirement for every employer, not every employer uses E-Verify. Some employers are required to use E-Verify by law, such as federal and state government contractors and sub-contractors. There are also several states that require all employers in the state to use E-Verify.
Many employers that aren’t required to use E-Verify opt to use E-Verify as another step to confirm their employees are all legally authorized to work in the U.S.
Do employers use Form I9?
Every employer in the U.S., from the smallest business to the largest multi-national employer, is required to obtain a Form I-9 on every employee to verify the individual’s identity and that they are legally authorized to work in the U.S.
This is a government requirement. If employers do not obtain, and if applicable, update the I-9 documents correctly, the employer may face steep fines, penalties and even possible criminal charges by the government.
The Form I-9 is a short document that requires the employee to provide the following information:
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number (if you have one)
- Citizenship status
- Copies of ID in accordance with U.S. Government requirements as provided on the I-9 instructions.
How can I request a copy of my background check?
You may request at any time a copy of your background reports (if any) previously prepared by AccuSource, and/or your active database files (if any) maintained on you by AccuSource.
Please contact AccuSource Customer Service at:
AccuSource Customer Service
Telephone: 888-649-6272 (Monday-Friday, 7am to 5pm Pacific Standard Time)
Attn: Customer Service
1240 E. Ontario Ave., Suite 102-140
Corona, California 92881
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act: Summary of your rights under the FCRA
For California consumers: Summary of your rights under California law
Additional background screening information and reference materials published by the FTC may be found at: http://business.ftc.gov/privacy-and-security/credit-reporting
If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, applicable information published by the FTC may be found at: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft, including a copy of the FTC’s publication “Remedying the Effects of Identity Theft”, which also may be found directly at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/idtheft/idt09.pdf
How can I dispute information on my background check?
Notice to the consumer:
Per the FCRA, you have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. If you identify information in your file that is incomplete or inaccurate, and report it to the consumer agency, the agency must investigate unless your dispute is frivolous. Inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected, usually within 30 days. However, a consumer reporting agency may continue to report information it has verified as accurate.
- The consumer must identify the dispute. A dispute is any challenge or claim that information on the completed background check report is inaccurate or incomplete.
- The consumer must submit their dispute to AccuSource, Inc. one of three ways, along with the Dispute Resolution Form and Release or the TransUnion Consumer Dispute Form if only disputing credit report information:
Fax: By faxing the AccuSource, Inc. dispute form and release to 951-734-0884
Email: By emailing the AccuSource, Inc. dispute form and release to
Mail: By mailing the AccuSource, Inc. dispute form and release to:
1240 E. Ontario Ave.
Corona, CA 92881
- Once a dispute request has been received, AccuSource, Inc. will notify the company who requested your background check. The potential employer will be aware that you have initiated a dispute regarding information on your background report and they will be updated accordingly.
- During the dispute process, AccuSource, Inc. will reinvestigate all the items in question by contacting the source of the disputed information. Per the FCRA, a consumer reporting agency has 30 days from the date the dispute was received to conclude the dispute process.
- To check the status of your dispute request, you may contact our Compliance Department at 951-734-8882, Monday through Friday. At the end of the investigation process, a representative from our Compliance Department will contact you regarding the results of your dispute as well as submit a letter of completion and a copy of the updated consumer report to the address provided.
How is the decision to hire made?
The background verification is a key milestone to helping candidates get hired. Employers engage AccuSource to conduct background verifications.
Please note that AccuSource does not make the hiring decision, and cannot provide you with details as to the reasoning behind your prospective employer’s hiring decision. For the status of your candidacy for employment, you should contact the hiring company directly.