Background Check Limitations

Background Check Limitations

Background Check limitations imposed by the state and federal government influence every background check we do. You should never rely solely on a criminal background check when making a hiring decision. It doesn’t matter how thorough the background check is. Even the best may not disclose the existence of all possible criminal records. While a background check is a crucial tool that may give an important perspective you previously missed, it is not the only thing you can base your decision on. Prospective employers should know that the criminal record information searched and reported for each type of employment background check can sometimes vary in accordance with state, county and federal regulations that govern criminal record reporting systems.

Our ability to search the records pertaining to every courthouse in some 3,000 plus county criminal record repositories in a few states is sometimes limited by law and record availability. Limitations can even depend on the type of background search done or even the type of criminal record. states such as California, Kentucky, New Mexico, and New York, prohibit the reporting of most arrests, or other non-conviction information, regardless of its age. The thought process is our country requires the highest standards of evidence to prove that someone committed a crime. If there is no conviction, they must not have committed the crime. In some of the states listed above, among others, the county criminal record repositories lack in speed, overall access, and content.

Federal Background Check Limitations

As convenient as it would be, there is not one big database of every criminal record in the country. Nor are there consistent laws with how this information needs to be reported. Federal law prohibits employment screening background check companies from reporting non-conviction information that is more than seven years old.

 There are some states that allow a background check company to share information that is up to 10 years old. While the severity and nature of the crime should be considered, so should the length of time since the crime. If it has been 5 to 10 years and they’ve had a clean record since, they are likely not a threat.

Incorrect Applicant Information

Remember, criminals know what they are up against and are often quite clever at obfuscating their past. We all have seen cases where someone who is incarcerated is able to circumvent the criminal justice system and walk out of jail. If an applicant falsifies information on their employment applicant, the background check inquiries will be run using inaccurate identifying data such as SSN, DOB, driver’s license numbers, etc. Unless caught, it will impact the validity of the criminal record background check and limit the accuracy of the information.

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