What is a Background Check?
There are Many Different Types of Background Checks. What’s Included in them?
A background check is a then process when a person or other entity verifies that an individual is who they claim to be, and provides an opportunity for someone to check a person’s criminal history, education, and employment history, and other previous activities in order to confirm the person’s validity for a job, for example, or simply that they are who they say they are. Whether this is in the context of a job application, a new apartment, or purchasing a firearm, many people may have to undergo a background check.
There are several types of background checks used in different situations. To help you understand each type and the constituent parts of a background check, we’ve listed the 10 most popular types of background check and what they each consist of, including:
- Employment Checks
- Criminal Checks
- Universal Checks
- OIG Checks
- E-Verify Checks
- Fingerprint Checks
- International Checks
- Credit Checks
- Personal Background Checks
- Professional Licenses Background Checks
Employment Background Checks
Many employers conduct background checks to prevent them from hiring someone who may either be simply inappropriate or possible even pose a threat to the work environment. As 72% of employers run a check for every hire they make.
An employment background check usually takes place when someone is interviewed for a job before an offer is made, but can also happen at any time the employer feels is necessary. For example, a company may require annual or bi-annual drug testing or a criminal background check for their employees to help create and maintain a safe and secure workplace.
To conduct an employment background check, the prospective employer needs the candidate’s name, date of birth, Social Security number (SSN), and current (and previous) addresses, as well as their consent to run the check.
Typically, an employment background check includes information and records from the past seven to ten years depending on which state you are in.
An employment background check may include, (but is not limited to), work history, education, credit history, driving records, criminal records, medical history, drug screening and even use of social media.
If the job is specialized, the applicants may undergo further screening. For example, for roles where someone is applying to be a financial advisor, public accountant or employed at a bank, the employer may also check the applicant’s financial history, as well as any licenses, certifications or professional qualifications they may have.
Note, it’s illegal to run an employment background check on the basis of race, the nation of origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, and age.
Furthermore, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the employer to comply with a number of regulations to ensure that the background check process is conducted transparently. For example, the employer must get written consent from applicants or employees and communicate to them that they may use the information discovered in any decision about their employment.
In addition, if the employer doesn’t hire someone because of data uncovered in a background check, they must send the candidate a notice that includes a copy of the information used to make the decision, and a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”
With this advanced notice, the candidate has a chance to check their report for issues and explain “problem” information, such as gaps in their resume, and criminal convictions.
Employers usually outsource employment background checks to an external company such that has immediate access to the necessary records, including police information, credit reports, and medical history (and more).
It is very important for employers to work with a compliant company. Searches such as those provided by Quick People Trace’s partners can provide similar information which can be useful for many things, but may not be used for official purposes. Make sure you follow correct guidelines and look for Employment Background Check providers who advertise that they are certified or accredited by the FCRA.
Background Checks – Criminal
A criminal background check is regularly required in situations where an entity needs to know about criminal activity, for fraud, embezzlement, violent or sex crimes or felony convictions before they make a decision regarding hiring, adoption, a firearm purchase, military enlistment, and many other situations.
More than Eighty percent (80%) of employers who run background checks are looking for criminal records that may indicate a threat to customers or create a dangerous working environment.
Depending on the sector, for example, healthcare, there may be legislation against hiring certain people convicted of offences if they relate to the job.
For those who have served time in jail, a criminal record is a major barrier to re-entering the workplace, which obviously makes it much more difficult for ex-convicts to be rehabilitated. In an effort to the government offers incentives to companies for hiring felons through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program.
A criminal check includes the following record searches:
- National criminal database
- Sex offender register
- County criminal courts check
- Domestic and global terrorist watch list checks
- Federal and state criminal records checks
Different states have slightly different variations of criminal background checks. Examples include a level 1 background check. This is a state-only “name-based check” and employment background check; and a level 2 background check, which includes a state and national fingerprint-based check and review of disqualifying offenses.
Universal Background Checks
Any time someone purchases a firearm from an importer who is licensed, a manufacturer, or a dealer, the vendor must perform a “universal background check” through the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) to determine whether the prospective buyer is eligible to purchase a firearm.
There are many reasons why a person might not pass a firearms background check including criminal offenses and misdemeanors, those on the run or persons with an open arrest warrant, perpetrators of domestic violence, illegal aliens, and people with disqualifying mental health issues, among others.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) oversees the process of the universal background check, in fact, actual NICS background checks are conducted by the FBI.
When universal background checks were mandated (by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993) and launched by the FBI in 1998, more than 230 million firearm background checks have been carried out leading to more than 1.5 million denials of purchase.
The federal firearms background check isn’t required, though, for purchases inside state lines by an unlicensed vendor, including private-party transactions. Thirty-two states permit gun transfers between individuals who are not licensed without a background check and the other 18 states and DC put restrictions on the sales of private guns, demanding a federally licensed dealer (FFL) to carry out a background check prior to the completion of a transfer.
OIG Background Checks
First mandated by the Social Security Act, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services retains a list of excluded individuals and entities also called a sanctions list, to stop people who have committed certain healthcare-related crimes to be employed in federally-funded healthcare programs.
Many companies and employers operate the OIG background check before hiring staff or a contracting entity, and routinely afterward to ensure their employees aren’t added to the list once hired. Search results for this check include date of birth, address, and reason for exclusion and can be confirmed with a Social Security number (SSN).
If an employer doesn’t run the OIG background check and hires someone whose name is on the list, the employer could be forced to pay civil monetary penalties and the employer is also potentially at risk for liability and safety issues.
People and other entities can be added to the sanctions list if they’ve been convicted of certain types of offenses, including:
- Offenses related to Medicare, Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and other state healthcare programs
- Medicare or Medicaid fraud
- The abuse or neglect of Patients
- Felony offences for other healthcare-related fraud, or other misconduct (including financial and theft)
- Convictions related to controlled substances
In the following instances, the OIG does have the discretion to add individuals or entities to the list, or not at their discretion:
- Misdemeanor convictions relating to healthcare fraud other than Medicare or state health programs, or fraud in the case of a non-state program financed by any federal, state, or local government agency
- Misdemeanor convictions in the case of controlled substances
- Suspension, revocation, or surrender of a license because of professional competence, professional performance, or of financial integrity
- Submission of fraudulent or false claims to a federal healthcare program
- Participating in unlawful “kickback” arrangements
- Non-payment of a health education loan or the obligations of a scholarship
- Having a controlling interest in an excluded entity (as an owner, officer, or managing employee)
E-Verify Background Checks
E-Verify can be used by employers to check the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired staff. This online check compares information from the I-9 form new employees are required to fill out to confirm that the employee is authorized to work in the U.S.
Since 2009, the federal government has required its use for many federal contractors, and now some 20 states require this for certain public and private employers; however, that said, in fact, E-Verify is voluntary for most employers.
Forms I-9 and E-Verify are similar in their purpose, but E-Verify takes the process a step further to ensure new employees are authorized to work in the US.
Enrolled employers can carry out an E-Verify check through the E-Verify website.
Fingerprint Background Checks
The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) was Launched in 1999, and stores more than 35 million sets of fingerprints, in general, submitted by law enforcement agencies.
A fingerprint background check is often used in conjunction with other background checks and is regularly used as part of the pre-employment validation process. A fingerprint background check is compulsory for government-run institutions such as schools, law enforcement agencies, airports, hospitals, and fire departments.
It may also be required to be eligible for certain licenses, including jobs in medical care, real estate, finance, pharmacies and casinos.
An employer can run a person’s fingerprints against the AFIS to get a very accurate read of a person’s criminal background from authorized criminal agencies, including arrests records etc. And since it’s practically impossible to fake fingerprints, AFIS will also include records for potential aliases, which is a very useful benefit for Criminal history.
International Background Checks
If a company in the U.S. is considering hiring someone who has recently lived or worked or even studied in a different country, the employer may want to run an international background check in addition to its usual hiring background checks.
Every country requires varying documentation to perform the checks, such as a passport, so it’s vital for employers to work with a service provider that can communicate what’s needed quickly.
Credit Background Checks
A credit check is a record of a person’s borrowing and other financial affairs and can indicate how someone has managed their credit and bill payments in the past. This is a standard requirement when applying for auto finance or home loan, credit card, or indeed any other type of loan. Many landlords also run check credit checks to verify whether a person applying to rent their property has a history of good credit.
A candidate’s financial background is very important in an area where financial crime is possible, and employers are likely to consider someone with poor credit or significant debt to be more tempted to take advantage of the employer’s trust (although this is of course just opinion.
And if the employer decides not to hire someone because of information found in a credit background check, it must send the person a notice that includes a copy of the report used to make the decision, and a copy of “Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”
Personal Background Checks
If you’d like to see what employers may see when they run your background check, a personal background from Quick People Trace can do this for you. You can try running a report now and get immediate preview results.
For example, you might run a personal background check to see if your name appears in any public criminal databases. You can also do an SSN Search to see where you’ve lived and worked. These types of unofficial background checks cannot be used for official purposes and are also different from credit reports (which also use a social security number).