Background Check Basics
Who, What, When, Why, and How
Running comprehensive background checks on all potential hires can identify red flags in an applicant’s past and is the best way to ensure that your business is making informed hiring decisions. The human capital of an organization is an investment, and just like any other financial investment, it is crucial to perform proper due diligence prior to making any decisions that may affect the company’s bottom line.
- Who runs pre-employment background checks: Smart organizations looking for the most complete picture of a candidate
- What are background checks: The process of investigating an applicant’s background including criminal records, credit history, past employment and education verification, identity verification, driving records, and screening for drug use.
- When is the background screening process initiated: A background check should be done during the hiring process. Generally, an organization will extend an offer of employment to a candidate contingent on the candidate passing a background check.
- Why do companies run background checks: To ensure that a candidate is qualified for the job and does not pose any kind of threat to the company, its employees, or its customers.
- How does one order a thorough background check on a potential employee: The most important step in the background screening process is finding a thorough, legally-compliant, and trustworthy background screening firm. Once an account is set up, screens can usually be ordered through an online portal to expedite the process.
Most background screenings start with a Social Security Number (SSN) Trace. This report finds all name and addresses associated with the specific Social Security Number provided by the job applicant.
One way of obscuring one’s shady past is to omit past addresses or aliases on a job application. With the SSN Trace, all addresses and AKA’s linked to a Social Security Number will be known.
Firststep of a thorough background check
- Reveals all names and addresses associated with a specific SSN
- Information gained can be used to conduct a more comprehensive criminal
With more than one in four adults in the US estimated to have criminal records, it is imperative that businesses do everything in their power to protect their employees, their customers, and their reputations from the potential fallout of a bad hire.
- County Direct Records Search
- Statewide Repository Search
- Federal Direct Records Search
- Multi-State/National Database Search
- Nationwide Sex Offender Database Search
Free InfographicDownload our free “Different Types of Criminal Records Searches and Adverse Action Process” Infographic
An MVR will generally show any information that appears on a driver’s license, along with more detailed information on accident reports, traffic violations, license suspensions, and more.
- Depending on the state, MVR’s will include records for the past 3-10 years
- MVR’s include any vehicular crimes, including driving under the influence
- Identifies patterns of risky behavior, such as speeding tickets
Education and Employment Verifications mitigate the risk of hiring unqualified and untruthful employees. By personally reaching out to every academic institute and past employer listed on a resume, AccuSource’s verifications specialists can confirm an applicant’s suitability for any job.
- Verifies type of degree, attendance, date of graduation, major studies, GPA, and degree earned
- Corroborates a person’s past employment, position, salary, reason for leaving, disciplinary action, and dependability
- License/certification verifications, military records checks, and personal reference checks also available
A credit check for employment does not reveal the applicant’s credit score, but it does give the employer insight into a potential hire’s pecuniary life and could reveal signs of financial distress that might indicate the risk of theft or fraud. The employer credit report does not disclose the credit score or any account numbers but does show payment records, any amounts owed, and available credit.
Things To Remember:
- An employment credit check counts as “soft inquiry” and does not affect the applicant’s credit score the way a credit card application might
- Employers must notify applicants if they intend to check their credit and get the applicant’s written permission
- If any negative hiring decisions are made based on the information gathered from credit report, the employer must notify the applicant before the decision is made and follow the “Pre-Adverse and Adverse Action Process”
Screening employees and potential hires for illegal drug use is a relatively simple process, but can pay massive dividends when done correctly. Upon ordering a drug test, the candidate will receive a consent request and instructions for completing the test at one of more than 10,000 nationwide testing locations. The results of a drug screening are generally available to the employer within 1-3 business days, and all results are verified by a Medical Review Officer (MRO) to ensure accuracy.
- Urine drug tests
- Oral swab (saliva) tests
- Breathalyzer Alcohol Tests
- Blood Drug Test
- Hair Drug Tests
Free InfographicDownload our free “Pros & Cons of Different Types of Drug Screening Methods” Infographic
Frequently Asked Questions
What is included in a background check?
A background check during the hiring process can investigate many different aspects of a potential candidate’s past depending on what the employer is looking for. Checking an applicant’s background might include past employment history, education history, credit reports, criminal records, motor vehicle, and license records checks. Each of these services will return unique information specific to the search being done.
Depending on whether the employer is hiring for a particular department or level of management a comprehensive background screening program would take into consideration questions such as: What is the level of risk? Is there a fiduciary responsibility in the job? Is there necessary training or education required? All of these considerations can help an organization decide which aspects of a candidate’s past are relevant and worthy of being looked into.
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 a background check take?
A typical 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:
- A delay may occur if 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.
- Delays may occur if courts are inundated with requests which can cause backlogs.
- If an employer is requiring drug testing, a Medical Review Officer may contact you regarding a sample’s results.
- International background searches might require additional information which can delay the process. International criminal searches and employment or education verifications will typically require more time to receive a response.
Who does the background check and 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.
What information is required to run a background check on an employment candidate?
The scope of a pre-employment background check can vary widely from employer to employer. Even the type of position sought and the employer’s industry can impact the breadth of the screening components contained in a specific screening request. The types of services or products contained in each background screening request has a significant bearing on the types of information required to facilitate research.
In a 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.
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