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Employment Screening Background Checks Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is billing handled?

A. We prefer to be paid by credit card. That saves both of us considerable time and processing costs. You always know the exact cost of a report before you order it. Billing questions are extremely rare and are resolved promptly to your satisfaction. Accounts paying by credit card will not have the card charged until 5 days after billing. This allows time for the billing statement to be reviewed before the card is charged. Your account will normally be billed VIA e-mail once a month at the first of each month. If you have not been asked to post a deposit, payment is due upon receipt and payment is expected within 10 days of billing. You will be billed only for the searches you ordered during the previous month. Please note that we do not charge set-up fees, account maintenance fees, monthly minimums or any other fees or charges of any kind in connection with your account.

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2. What is the “Reference Code” that appears at the beginning of each search?

A. The reference code is designed for your use and convenience. You can enter any identifying data you wish such as “sales, store 5”. This information will appear on your monthly statement with each search you order and will save you from having to look up which department or location the search should be charged to.

3. Do we have to log back in to get the results of a search?

A. You don’t have to log back into the system to get results. All reports are emailed back to you in a timely manner.

4. How fast are criminal and driving records received?

A. Multi-state and state wide criminal, SSN traces, and MVR driving records from more than 40 states are returned instantly. County criminal background checks are researched manually and normally take one to two business days to be returned.

5.  What’s involved in setting up a screening program?

A. As part of the hiring process your applicant signs a release form that we provide. This release must be separate from the regular employment application and kept for a period of two years whether or not the applicant is hired. In order to be compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) this release must contain certain language indicating the applicant has received a “Summary Of Rights” in accordance with the FCRA. Except for employment credit reports we do not require you to send a signed release for each search. However, both of us are subject to audit by the Federal Trade Commission and these releases must be available when we ask you for them. Also, you may want to establish a screening program that is consistently applied by running the same series of background checks based on the position applied for. For suggested screening packages for various positions:  Click Here

6. How far back does your criminal record searches go? Can I use records beyond 7 years to make hiring decisions?

A. All criminal record searches will go back at least 7 years or more on request. Our criminal records checks will provide criminal record information going as far back as the courthouse allows. Each courthouse varies on how long they maintain criminal records on file.The Federal FCRA guidelines allow you to make hiring decisions based on criminal conviction information going beyond 7 years. However, State FCRA laws in CA, KS, MD, MA, MT, NH, NM, and NV restrict employers to only using the last 7 years of criminal record information for making hiring decisions. The remaining States allow a look-back further than 7 years if the subject earns or is expected to earn above a particular threshold amount:CO: $75K income exception
NY: $25K income exception
TX: $75K income exception
WA: $20K Income exception

7. Will I have to sign a contract?

A. The only contract you must agree to concerns the use of the information we provide. In order for us to comply with the FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT employers must certify to us that they are requesting these reports for employment purposes, will maintain certain records and comply with all employment laws. Since we have no control of this information once it is in your hands our agreement includes a hold harmless provision. Otherwise, there is no usage contract and you may close your account at any time without a penalty.

8. What is Negligent Hiring?

A. A growing body of case law referred to as: “Negligent Hiring” Practices holds companies responsible for the misdeeds of employees working on their premises or working elsewhere on the company’s behalf who, based upon their prior history, could have reasonably been expected to act irresponsibly or illegally. Under this theory of law, anyone injured by an employee’s misdeeds such as another employee, customer, or a member of the public, would be in a position to collect damages from the company as a result of its negligent hiring practices. A good background check may well be the company’s only real defense in such a lawsuit.

9. What type of criminal search is most accurate?

A. It is estimated that 30% or more of county criminal records are never reported to the state criminal record repositories. Therefore,  the most logical and accurate search is the county criminal search which is a direct manual search at the county courthouses. Most state databases are limited in information while some counties may not report to the state repository in a timely fashion or not at all. This search is almost always coupled with a multi-state or state-wide criminal background check which may provide information that would not be found in the record that existed in a county that was not known to the employer. Our criminal recordSmart Search Plus® addresses all of these concerns.

10. How do I determine where to look for a criminal record?

A. The best way to determine where your applicant has lived, is to run a social security number trace. This provides an address history of the applicant for the past 10 years. Every time someone applies for credit such as apartment rental etc., the address is recorded allowing you to figure out which counties and states the applicant has lived in. Our employment screening ordering system allows us to use the Address History Search to automatically order the County Criminal Searches, without any additional data entry.

11. We have several locations. Can you invoice bill each location separately?

A. Sure. Our ordering and billing system can be configured any way you like that is the most convenient for you. We can set up each location with separate billing and separate accounts and separate user names and passwords for logging into our website and order reports. We can also have the invoice for all locations sent to each location or to a single location.

12. Does Absolute Background Search, Inc. provide international searches?

A. Yes. We can provide overseas employment and education verifications and criminal records. We use a network of international background providers to assist us in obtaining the background information needed.

13. Where can I see a list of criminal record definitions and criminal record codes?

A. For a list of criminal record abbreviations often found on background checks: Click Here

14. Are we required to send a preliminary and final notice of adverse action if we do not hire or promote someone based on information contained in a criminal or credit report?

A. Yes. If after sending out the pre-adverse documents required, the employer intends to make the decision final, the employer must take one more step. Many employers find it difficult to believe that Congress intended that an applicant be notified twice, both before an adverse action and after. However, the law clearly requires two notices. This is also the interpretation of the Federal Trade Commission Staff. The purpose is to give job applicants the maximum opportunity to correct any incomplete or inaccurate reports that could affect their chances of employment. The employer must send the applicant a Notice of Adverse Action informing the job applicant that the employer has made a final decision; along with another copy of the FTC form “Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

15. What are the provisions of the Drivers Privacy Protection Act?

A. For more information on the Drivers Privacy Protection Act:  Click Here

16. What are the requirements for disposing of information contained in consumer reports?

A. For more information on the requirements for disposing of consumer information obtained in employment screening.

17. What are the time limits that are used in reporting arrest records and other adverse consumer information?

A. Generally, the time limit is seven years. 

18. What is the FACT ACT?

A. The FACT ACT is the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act. For more information on the FACT ACT: Click Here

19. Where can I find a list of the codes used by various states on their driver's license number?

A. For information the codes used on state drivers licenses:  Click Here

20. Where can I find a list of the endorsements, restrictions, and classes used by various states on their driver's licenses?

A. For information on the endorsements, restrictions, and classes used on state drivers licenses:  Click Here

21. What is the difference between “Sexual Predators” and “Sex Offenders”?

A. In Florida, Sexual predators have been convicted of the most serious crimes, like kidnapping and rape, or have been convicted twice in 10 years of committing or attempting to commit dangerous sex crimes. Sexual offenders have been convicted of crimes considered less heinous. Schools and daycare facilities within a 1-mile radius must be notified within 48 hours of a sexual predator relocating to the area.

22. What are the new Florida requirements effective Feb. 01, 2008, regarding the driver's licenses of sexual offenders and sexual predators?

A. The new law requires that sexual predators have “775.21, F.S.” printed on the bottom-right corner of their driver license or state identification card. The number 775.21, F.S. is the Florida law known as the Florida Sexual Predators Act. Sexual offenders are required to have “943.0435, F.S.” printed on the bottom-right corner of their driver license or identification card, for the corresponding Florida statute dealing with sex offenders. The 43,000 sexual offenders and predators in Florida have until Feb. 1, 2008, to obtain a marked license or identification card, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported. Failure to comply with the law is a third-degree felony. Sex offenders and predators will be required to pay $10 for a new license 

23. Will driving or traffic violations show up on a criminal background check?

A. Often they will.  Some time ago, only serious driving charges such as fleeing and eluding or felony DUI would show up. More and more counties are reporting all court activity and Traffic violations are sometimes considered criminal offenses even when only a citation is issued. These records are generally filed in municipal (city) offices and are often included in a criminal background check. Be very careful using these charges when denying employment.

24. If someone has been in federal prison, does it show up on your reports?

A. You must request a U.S. Federal District Court Criminal Background Check.  Persons sentenced to a federal prison have been convicted of a violation of the United States Criminal Code – a crime against the Federal government.  A County Criminal Record Search or Statewide Criminal History Search will not reveal information about someone convicted in a Federal District Court. It should be noted that few criminals go directly into the Federal system as most have a state-level criminal history of some kind before they are charged with a Federal crime. However, some cyber-related law violations such as using a computer to induce a minor for some illegal purpose or cyber fraud is sometimes only found in the Federal court system.

25. How do I order searches for candidates with hyphenated last names?

A. Some applicants have a hyphenated last name, Alfred Smith-Jones for example. To completely search for possible criminal records, two names need to be searched. Alfred Smith and Alfred Jones. Remember, a thorough criminal background search requires searching under all known names. Criminal records searches must have an exact name match in most jurisdictions to return records. This is vital – without this exact match, a record will not be returned. If Alfred Smith-Jones was arrested and charged as Alfred Smith, and you search for records matching, you will usually not find this out. You are advised to do criminal searches on all known aliases. Use the SSN trace results as a guide; they will show the names that have been used associated with the candidate’s SSN. If you find a name you were not initially aware of, you can order additional searches. 

26. When requesting a background check should we use a suffix to the last name such as Jr. or Sr. ?

A. No. Please don’t use any suffixes when requesting background checks. 

27. Can our insurance carrier provide us with Motor Vehicle Records (MVR’S) on job applicants?

A. Most Insurance Companies can no longer provide clients with Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR’s).This is because Insurance Carriers have been determined not to be “Consumer Reporting Agencies” as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.In the future, as part of their normal insurance underwriting procedures, insurance companies may request driver license information and obtain MVR’s only for their insurance underwriting considerations, and will only advise you if the respective driver does or does not meet their current underwriting standards. It is important to run your own driving records however because your applicant may simply need to pay a ticket to have his license reinstated but your insurance carrier can only describe the applicant as “Not Eligible” based on a suspended license. Besides, a person’s driving record is often a very good indication of that person’s level of responsibility and risk-taking characteristics.

28. Is there one Database that contains all criminal records?

A. No. Even the FBI points out that their criminal record database is dependent on counties reporting criminal records to the various state databases. For an explanation of the various criminal records Databases:  Click here for information on the results from a Multi-State criminal background check.

29. On Federal charges, If someone has been in a Federal prison or arrested on Federal charges, will it show up on your state or county criminal records reports?

A. A County Criminal Record Search or Statewide Criminal History Search will not reveal information about someone convicted in a Federal District Court. You must request a U.S. Federal District Court Criminal Background Check. Persons sentenced to a federal prison have been convicted of a violation of the United States Criminal Code – a crime against the Federal government. Crimes like kidnapping, major drug trafficking, treason, bank robbery, and even some internet-related crimes are found in the federal criminal system.

30. For tips on asking applicants about arrest records:

31. Explain the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

A. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is intended to provide consumers with certain rights concerning information about themselves contained in credit or “consumer reports”. It is a Federal law regulating the collection, use, and distribution of consumer credit information. The FCRA was enacted in 1970, and substantially amended in the late 1990s and in 2003, and forms the basis for all consumer credit rights. The law is intended to ensure the privacy and accuracy of credit reports. FCRA regulates activities by consumer reporting agencies, by any person or company providing information to those consumer reporting agencies, and by any person or company using the information for credit, employment, or insurance purposes. FCRA also provides consumers the right to periodically review and have errors corrected in their credit records. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 allows consumers to have easier access to view their reports and dispute incorrect items.

32 Q: How can I get a copy of my own credit report?

A: You can get a copy of your own credit report, free of charge, by visiting or calling 1.877.322.8228.

33. Why should we screen applicants?

A. The estimated average costs range to replace a minimum wage employee is estimated at a minimum of $3,600 and as much as one-third of an employee’s annual salary as estimated by the Department of Labor. There are many costs that go into the hiring process including but not limited to human resources and management costs such as:
1. Reviewing resumes
2. interviewing applicants
3. Orientation
4. Training time.
Moreover, indirect costs are often much higher and include:
1.Increases in liability insurance premiums 
2 Increases in workers’ compensation insurance premiums
3 Increases unemployment insurance rates
4.Employee theft
5 Loss of productivity
Other intangible costs include stress and tension caused to existing employees, an unstable working environment, and loss of intellectual property.

34. How can I avoid being discriminatory in the screening of applicants?

A. All employers should be aware of the guidelines as mandated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for the use of criminal records. The EEOC and other state laws restrict the use of background information by an employer. Under EEOC guidelines, an employer may not automatically disqualify an applicant with a criminal record. The employer must take into consideration several factors before making the final hiring decision. Not taking these factors into consideration may result in a claim of discrimination and EEOC scrutiny. Consistency is the most important aspect of any employment screening program. Employers should have a written policy concerning the conduct of background checks and uniformly apply that policy within job classifications. This is the best way to refute most claims of discrimination. Employers may also face claims of discrimination when using the information obtained from a background check. Therefore, employers should have job-related standards in place on what negative information will and will not preclude an applicant from employment. Again, these standards must be followed consistently.

35. What does a background Check cost and what is included?

A. Costs vary depending on how in-depth you want the search to be. A typical background search ranges from $35 to $100. It often pays to spend a little more to be sure you are getting the information you need. The cost is really quite low compared to the liability for not checking an applicant thoroughly.

36. Is there anything potentially illegal or that could be considered an invasion of privacy or about background checking?

A. All employment screening searches are conducted using information that is a matter of public record and will only be shared with clients who have a documented “permissible purpose” to use the information under the law (such as pre-employment screening). Specific legal questions should be referred to an attorney.

37. What if the information we receive about an applicant is incorrect?

A. The vast majority of the time the public records information is correct. However, sometimes there is more than one person with the same name and date of birth. Other data entry errors, misinterpretations, and incomplete records do sometimes occur. You should always try to get corroborating information such as a social security number trace or social security verifier plus as well as a county criminal background check before basing an important decision on what you find out. If you decide not to hire someone based on information supplied in a background check, you must give the applicant a copy of the results that influenced your decision and the name, address, and phone number of the agency supplying the information. We can provide pre-adverse action and adverse action forms to be used for these purposes.

38. What does the term “Deferred sentence” mean?

A. Deferred sentence is an arrangement in which a defendant who pleads guilty is placed on probation for up to several years, usually with conditions. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the guilty plea is withdrawn and the case is dismissed. If the defendant fails probation, he or she may be sentenced based upon the guilty plea.

39. Q.  Is pleading No Contest to a misdemeanor considered a conviction?

A.  Yes. A plea of no contest means you do not contest the charges against you. It has the same practical effect as a guilty plea. It results in a conviction and will stay on your record unless expunged. There is no significant difference between a no contest plea and a guilty plea. Even though you may not be admitting guilt, a no-contest plea allows the Court to enter a conviction and impose a sentence upon you. By pleading no contest, you give up your constitutional rights to a trial, to have your guilt or innocence decided by a jury, to confront your accusers and cross-examine them in court, and to raise any defense you may have to the charge against you. Unless you have an agreement with the prosecutor for deferred adjudication or sentence, the court will sentence you on a no-contest plea as if you pleaded guilty, and you will have a record of conviction.

40. Q. What is the difference between a “Search” and a “Report”?

A “search” is a single item being researched, such as one County Criminal Record search. A “report” is the compilation of all searches completed during the criminal background check

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