Not All Background Checks are Created Equal: Are You Running the Wrong Reports?

Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Business Management [ 0 Comments ]

background checksToday we hear the term background checks pretty often. It’s discussed in government as part of gun control, used by employers when hiring, and advertised as a way to discover your neighbor’s secrets.

Unfortunately, there is no one universal report that constitutes a background check report. Each of the 3 examples shared would involve completely different reports, processes and sources.

However, this flexibility allows for custom reporting and packaging of relevant information for the purpose of the background check screening.

Related: Improve your background check process with one of our professional vendors

Here are some of the most common reports for background checks and what you need to know about them:

Do (for everyone): County Criminal

This is the gold mine. In the United States, most everyday crimes of damage or theft of life and property are handled by the local County Court. The county court will have the most updated and complete report of individuals who have a criminal conviction in their county.

Maybe: State Criminal

All counties report up to the state. Meaning that in theory, a state criminal search will pick up all convictions in all their counties. This sounds much easier in theory because in reality, there isn’t much of a uniformed system for counties reporting up. This reporting can be done digitally, or physically where an individual has to deliver paper records to the capital. This inconsistency allows for incomplete reports that might be outdated.

Related: How to Choose a Background Check Service

Do (for executives): Federal Criminal

This sounds like the top of the line, FBI style reporting, but not quite. Just like County and State Criminal searches deal with everyday crimes tried at the county level, Federal Criminal searches deal with Federal crimes dealt through Federal courts. This includes most crimes against the government, white collar crimes and crimes committed in Federal jurisdiction. This search might be good for an executive to search for fraud, but not for an assistant who has a shoplifting track.

Do (for specific industries): Exclusion Searches

These are specialty searches usually reserved for businesses in regulated industries, or businesses who deal with government contracts. The most popular exclusion lists are the OIG and GSA searches along with individual state records. An exclusion list is a database of individuals and entities that are banned from working with the government. Any healthcare company who accepts Medicare or Medicaid must make sure their employees and vendors are not on these lists. States may have specialty exclusion lists such as New Jersey’s Casino Exclusion List. In this case, NJ publishes individuals who are to be excluded from a state casino because of criminal offenses or plain old cheating.

Do (for everyone): SSN Trace

After the County report, the SSN Trace might be the second most important report to run. This will first confirm the individual’s social security number is legitimate. Afterwards, it will review their residential history, aliases, and date of birth. The SSN Trace is done instantly and will help you know immediately if you are dealing with someone provided false information.

Related: 4 Small Business Background Screening Best Practices

There are still many other searches including:

  • The sex offender registry
  • Terrorist watch list
  • Credit reports
  • Driving records
  • License verifications

These are only some of the many options; in fact, some of the leading background check companies offer more than 150 different reports.

But don’t get overwhelmed. The first step in establishing a background check policy is to know what you need to screen for, and find the best screening tools available. A professional screening company will guide you through the putting together a background check package designed for your unique business needs.

Bio: Rafael Landeiro is a content writer for Mobile Health. Based in New York City, he specializes in employee screening topics such as drug tests, background checks, and employee physicals.


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