Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about your background check? We can help
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the differences between criminal records search options (County, Federal, State, National Database)?
Some states house some or all county court records tried in courts in their state in records repositories. Other states afford direct online access to some or all of the county court criminal records. Statewide criminal records searches are often available in states with these types of research resources.
Finally, there are several proprietary national criminal databases options available. Database owners generally use data scraping software to obtain information from online resources to build and supplement the records contained in their products. While direct court searches are still the gold standard in background screening, database products can provide an economical option for casting a wider net to potentially uncover additional criminal activity. However, it is important to note, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires any information identified in a database product to be confirmed at the direct court of record prior to use in an employment decision.
Is using pre-employment background screening discriminatory?
There are also clear guidelines established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on how an employer can use the information gained from a criminal records search. For example, an employer cannot preemptively disqualify applicants with criminal records without first conducting an individualized assessment, taking into consideration several factors. These factors include the nature of an offense, the time elapsed since the offense, and if the offense is relevant to the position for which the candidate is applying. When an employer fails to take these factors into consideration claims of discrimination and scrutiny from the EEOC has often followed.
What is the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS)?
The organization was founded as a non-profit trade association in 2003 with the mission of advancing excellence in the background screening industry while working to be the industry’s trusted global authority in establishing and promoting a high level of ethics and performance standards for the screening industry. Its stated core values include:
- Integrity & ethics
- Advancement of knowledge
- Service to its members
- Proactive engagement
AccuSource is proud to be a founding member of the NAPBS and works tirelessly to uphold and advance its mission and values.
What is the FCRA and how does it affect my organization?
Although the name of the act specifically references “credit reporting”, the FCRA applies to all consumer reports, including pre-employment background checks. Any report on a consumer’s credit history, character, reputation, mode of living, criminal history, or similar information that might be used to determine a person’s eligibility for credit, insurance, or employment is regulated by the FCRA.
Within the FCRA there are a number of exceptions and rules on what can and cannot be looked for or shared. For instance, bankruptcy cases can be no older than 10 years and all other adverse information, with the sole exception of criminal convictions, can be no older than seven years. In addition, no medical information can be shared unless the report is being used for insurance purposes. However, in the case of companies running background screenings on potential employees, the rules about what information cannot be reported do not apply if the employee would be making at least $75,000.
In addition to protecting the consumer once the check is underway, the FCRA also requires the employer to disclose some information and obtain the consumer’s permission before the check can legally begin. These forms do not require a lot of effort and simply serve to inform the applicant that a check will be done and what the applicant’s rights are.
Why do some county court record searches take longer to process than searches in other county courts?
Why do employers do background checks?
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 are Form I-9 and e-Verify?
E-Verify is a United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees, both U.S. or foreign citizens, to work in the United States.
E-Verify was originally established in 1996 as the Basic Pilot Program to prevent illegal immigrants and other people who have violated immigration laws from obtaining employment illegally in the United States. In August 2007, DHS started by requiring all federal contractors and vendors to use E-Verify. The Internet-based program is free and maintained by the United States government. Use of E-Verify at the state level varies; some states have mandated use of E-Verify or similar programs, while others have discouraged the program.
E-Verify compares information from an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from U.S. government records. If the information matches, that employee is eligible to work in the United States. If there is a mismatch, E-Verify alerts the employer and the employee is allowed to work while he or she resolves the problem; they must contact the appropriate agency to resolve the mismatch within eight federal government workdays from the referral date.
Can AccuSource provide a background screening report that was requested by another company?
The subject of a background screening report has the option to request a copy of their own report. For screening reports processed by AccuSource, the applicant can simply go to accusource-online.com, click on the “Applicant Resources” link at the top of the homepage and follow the instructions for requesting a copy of their report. Or, click here to go directly to the request page.
How do background screening companies (Consumer Reporting Agencies or CRAs) search for criminal records to potentially report in an employment background screen?
What is a Social Security trace and validation?
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.
What is included in a motor vehicle search?
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.
What information is required to run a background check on an employment candidate?
In standard criminal history background screen, most Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) begin with a social security trace (SST) or address locator search to identify any previous addresses or alias names associated with the applicant. The applicant’s social security number (SSN) is generally required to conduct this type of search. Additionally, applicants are asked to provide their full legal name, date of birth and at least 7 years of address history. The address history (both developed by the SST and applicant-provided) aids in determining the courts searched for potential criminal records. Most criminal records are indexed by the defendant’s name and date of birth. Once a potential record match is located, additional information is sometimes required to confirm the record match.
Employers often request additional services to meet their specific screening needs. These services commonly include verification of employment and education history, verification of professional licenses, personal and professional references, and driving records. Each type of search has its own set of search data required to ensure a quality result. No two employers are completely alike in their program needs and organizational requisites are ever-evolving. For more information on AccuSource’s individualized screening services or an analysis of optimization opportunities, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is AccuSource a member of trade associations or professional groups?
If I am running a National Criminal Search in the background screens my company conducts, do I still need to run county criminal records or federal criminal records searches?
Best practice is to conduct a direct county criminal records search and direct federal district records search in all jurisdictions where an applicant has resided in the most recent 7 years along with a National Criminal Database search to potentially identify any additional criminal records in other jurisdictions. If a potential record is identified in the National Criminal Database search, a search of the county court where the record is held is required to meet Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliance prior to use in an employment decision.
For more information on the availability and use of criminal records searches in hiring decisions, please contact email@example.com
How can a consumer address inaccurate information on a consumer report?
How can a consumer address inaccurate information on a consumer credit report?
How can I dispute information on my background check?
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.
What options are available in criminal records background screening?
Some states offer direct access to the records repositories (databases) for county criminal records. However, the number of states with quality direct record access are very limited. CRAs (Consumer Reporting Agencies) often offer services to search for potential criminal records through proprietary state and national criminal record databases. While database searches offer an opportunity to economically expand the scope of a criminal records search, employers must confirm any records found in a database search through a direct court records search prior to use in an employment decision under FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) guidelines. Additionally, since there is no guarantee as to the breadth and quality of the records in a proprietary database product, it is always suggested database options are used to complement direct court searches rather than serve as standalone products.
For more information on criminal background screening or other background screening topics, please contact AccuSource at 888.649.6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Department of Transportation (DOT) Verification service and what does it encompass?
AccuSource’s DOT Drug and Alcohol Records Verification Services include the following:
- All necessary release forms
- Electronic storage of all release forms
- Documentation of verification attempts – including date/time of contact, method of contact, name/title of contact and result of attempt(s)
- Continuous follow-up on records requests until obtained, until determined records are not available or until the 30 day response period has elapsed (with documentation of “Good Faith” exception.)
For additional information on AccuSource’s DOT Drug and Alcohol/Safety Records Verification services or other Employment Screening Services, please contact us today!
What is the purpose of a SSN (Social Security Number) trace?
How far back does AccuSource report criminal record information?
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?
What is included in a background check?
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 and how do they get the information?
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 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?
How long does a background check take?
- 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
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
Why do employers check credit 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?
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?
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.
Why do employers check my employment history?
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?
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?
Why do employers do drug testing?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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 is the decision to hire made?
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.