Background Checks: How Far Back Do they Go?
How Deep are Background Checks and How Much Information Do they Reveal? Read This Article!
Background checks for employment are performed by more than 90% of employers in the country, and they have bearing on applicants' chances of getting hired. Employment background checks show information about a person's past, and they may seem invasive to some people. However, there are certain limitations on background checks that employers must adhere to. One of the limitations is on how far do background checks go, so, if you are unsure about the restrictions and regulation on background checks, here they are.
What Do Employers Check for In Background Checks?
Employees who run background checks often do so because they are obligated to make sure that the people they hire are no threat to the workplace, other employees, and customers. To make sure of that, employers perform checks that look into applicants' criminal records, their credit status, their education, their previous work experience, criminal sexual history, and more. These types of checks focus mostly on criminal records; employers need to check if applicants have a criminal history and if they have ever been convicted of crimes.
The reports are provided to employers by special companies that are experts in tapping into the information employers need. The checks usually take 2-3 days, and they can even take up to a month, depending on what type of information is requested by employers, and whether they want to conduct interviews on people who know the applicants.
Once employers get the full background check reports on applicants, they can hire the most suitable candidates based on their experience, qualifications, and overall impression. As far as criminal records go, employers are prohibited to disqualify applicants on the sole basis that they have a criminal record.
However, there is an exception to this law; if the offense on an applicant's criminal record is directly related to a position or may result in the applicant not performing at his/her best, then the employer can turn them down based on their criminal records. For instance, if someone has applied to be a school bus driver and they are registered as sex offenders, they will not be able to get hired for that position.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Go for Employment?
Now that you know a little more about the background check process, it's time to answer the question of how far do background checks go. There are certain limitations on background checks, as determined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); the following information cannot appear in background check reports for positions that pay $75,000 a year or less. Positions that pay more are not subject to these limitations as far as background checks go:
- Bankruptcies - bankruptcies after 10 years cannot be reported on an employment background check report
- Tax liens – tax liens cannot be reported seven years after payment on an employment background check report
- Accounts in collection – accounts in collection cannot be reported after seven years on an employment background check report
- Civil suits and civil judgments - civil suits and civil judgments cannot be reported after seven years on an employment background check report
- Criminal records – there is no limitation on how far back criminal background checks go, so an employer can see convictions from the applicants' entire history. However, expunged, sealed, and juvenile records should not appear is job history reports. Furthermore, applicants who have expunged or sealed records can refer to them as not existent.
Know Your Rights
Before an employer can even begin performing a background check on you, he/she has to ask your permission to conduct the check. The permission needs to be provided in a signed consent form where you fill out your identifying information and signature. Then, employers will transfer the forms to a company that specializes in background checks, or the FBI, depending on the position.
In case you report includes information that disqualifies you from getting hired, you will get a letter/email letting you know about it. Also, you are entitled to get one free copy of the check to see what's on it. If you notice errors in your report, you need to make sure to fix them.
How to Perform a Background Check on Yourself?
If you want to see what employers see when they run a background check on you, you can use professional public records search websites. To use these sites, you will need to enter either your full name, address, phone number, or email address. Once an identifying piece of information is entered into a public records search directory, the website will scan records that contain data about you. In a matter of minutes, you will receive a report that includes, among other things, your criminal records. if you notice that there is false information about you in any records, you can request to correct it by contacting the authority that made the error. That way, employers will not receive false information about you that may harm your chances of getting a job you want.
Employment background checks are vital is this day and age as they allow employers to choose the most suitable and qualified applicants for open positions. When it comes to criminal records, there is no time limit set by the FCRA. However, there are other limitations that you should be aware of, and make sure employers do not view the information they are prohibited from asking about.