What Is a Background Check?

What is a background check? We tell you everything you need to know about what background checks are, what they show and how to get them.

So the time has come for you to apply for a background check. Or maybe you need to request one for a potential employee. But what is a background check, and what exactly does it entail? How much goes into requesting one, and what exactly will show up on a background check?

So What is a Background Check? Let’s Take a Look:

what is a background check criminal record laptop

A background check is a routine process of retrieving criminal, work and financial history of a person or an organization. The most common reason for a request is usually a pre-employment screening for potential employers to get a better feel for you as a person.

Taking a deeper look into your history gives them an idea of how you will fit into the company. Background checks are often requested for most jobs in the United States, but they can request specific kinds for certain high-profile positions that require a certain amount of security clearance or confidentiality. Some examples are working in the educational, governmental, medical and financial fields.

What Are the Laws Surrounding Background Checks?

Background checks reveal extremely sensitive information about an individual, so naturally, there are laws surrounding receiving a check. There are plenty of laws that surround the obtaining and usage of receiving the information in a background check. These checks can vary from state to state, but overall most employers must receive written consent by the potential employee to follow through with a background check.

The Fair Credit Report Act regulates the usage of consumer reports and regulates how they are obtained. Individuals must consent to a consumer report request and consent to what information will be used in the hiring decision. If a credit report is also requested, the consumer must also be notified.

Different Types

There are several different types of background checks one can request, ranging from generic history to in-depth, specific information. They can be administered through a government agency or through a contracted private agency. The more specific the information requested, the higher the fee.

The majority of employers will request the common records, which include criminal history, driving history and education history. The checks are done to verify everything that potential employees write on their resume and say in their interviews, such as degrees and licenses. In addition to common searches, employers can also request credit scores, drug tests, sex offender registry info, and certain skills-based tests.

Depending on the job being applied for, additional reports may be requested. For example, if someone applies to work in a school, a sex offender registry report request would be a pertinent part of the hiring process.

What Could Show Up on Your Background Check

A consumer report or a background check usually consists of basic criminal record history. More specifically, the check will consist of your arrest records, incarceration records, and sex offender records. The reports also include education records, employment records (don’t lie on your resume), litigation records (mainly to see if you’ve filed a discrimination lawsuit in the past) and many other specific background checks.

Another form of background check is the reference check with past employers or colleagues. These can be in the form of interviews or official forms to previous employers. Whatever it is, there are several types of background checks out there that can get you the proper information you seek.

See: Background Check Services