What Shows Up On a Background Check?

What Shows Up On a Background Check?

By Tricia O'Connor

A projected 3.3 million people will leave their jobs in December 2021. This voluntary attrition is part of a turnover tsunami, another lasting effect of the pandemic. People who stayed with mediocre jobs during COVID-19 will spend the latter half of the year looking for better opportunities.

This hiring wave highlights the importance of pre-employment background checks. Background screening helps employers build safe workplaces and ensures employees are the right fit for an organization.

As businesses and job candidates prepare for this onslaught, EBI wants to help ease any concerns about the background check process. We understand the pressures job candidates often feel about the screening process, and it’s our mission to help clarify the process for you.

So, the next time you’re asked to undergo pre-employment screening for a new job, here’s what shows up on a background check.

Background Check Basics

A pre-employment background check is a critical piece of the hiring process. Most background checks consist of criminal history, education, previous employment verifications, and reference checks. However, employers often work closely with their own human resources department and in conjunction with a Consumer Reporting Agency (a CRA is a background screening firm like EBI) to develop the background screening program and policy they’ll use to vet candidates. This ensures the employer is requesting the specific information required for their unique employees.

Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance is required for any employer using a third party for conducting a background check. Non-conviction records will only be reported for seven years. Under the FCRA, there is no limitation on reporting a criminal conviction, however many states have passed laws that say CRAs like EBI cannot report anything beyond seven years.

Drug testing results may also be posted in background check reports. Throughout the pandemic, more employers have turned to instant or rapid drug tests to screen candidates remotely. These oral fluid (saliva) tests are often faster, safer, and less expensive for employers.

Types of Background Checks

There are many kinds of background checks that can be run on job applicants. The contents of a background check will vary depending on the industry, type of job, and the employer’s preference.

Here are some of the types of background checks an employer may choose:

Social Security Number Trace – A Social Security Number trace reveals where a potential employee has lived and worked, and provides any other names or aliases connected with this person to check during the criminal screen. An SSN is also needed to fill out the Form I-9, which is a requirement to examine all new hires’ documents to determine if a person is legally allowed to work in the country. Federal law mandates this must be done in person, but temporary guidance owing to COVID-19 has allowed employers to review documents virtually. This flexibility remains in place until August 31, 2021, but it’s not clear if it will be extended beyond then.

National Criminal Records Database Search – This reveals if an applicant has committed a crime outside of the state or county where they live and work. The NCRD includes hundreds of millions of records that can be searched quickly.

Statewide Criminal Records Check – These checks uncover any felonies or misdemeanors by gathering information from the courts, correctional agencies, and law enforcement officials across the state. Disruptions like severe weather or this year’s pandemic can cause delays in searching criminal court records. In that case, EBI works closely with our clients to determine the best course of action.

County Criminal Records Check – One of the most common searches done in background checks. With information from the Social Security Trace researchers can home in on the exact areas where applicants have lived and worked.

FBI Fingerprint Database – A fingerprint background check can show Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) if a match is found. This CHRI can include arrests, as well as military service records, records of federal employment and naturalization.

Many industries like healthcare, childcare, and finance, and other safety-sensitive positions, are required by law to do a fingerprint-based background check. However, during the pandemic, some states waived this requirement to onboard essential medical personnel more quickly.

Most internationally accredited CRAs like EBI do not advise ONLY doing FBI fingerprint-based background checks as the database has significant shortcomings.

Sex Offender Registry – This shows if an applicant is a registered sex offender. It is included in the NCRD and covers all 50 states.

Healthcare Sanctions Report (HSR) – This verifies if physicians, nurses, PAs, or other high-level practitioners have been excluded from participating in federally funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid because of an infraction.

Terrorist Watch List – This cross-references the list of people who are known or are reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity and is maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center.

Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) – This search determines if a candidate is considered a threat to national security. It is maintained by a division of the US Treasury Department.

Driver’s License Verification and Driving Records Check (MVR Report) – This compiles an applicant’s driving history and will include violations, suspensions, accidents, convictions, and any other disciplinary action.

DOT Employment Verifications –Federal law mandates when researching a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you can only look at the last three years, but there is no such restriction on work history. The DOT requires very specific questions to be asked by human resources and the entire process can take up to 30 days to complete.

Credit Report Check – Applicants for financial positions or those who are trusted with Personally Identifiable Information (PII) like tax preparers might be subject to a credit check. This shows any current debts, bankruptcies, financial judgements, and even payment history.

Education Verification – This check ensures applicants are not lying about earning a high school, college, or advanced degree, and confirms certifications.

Employment Verification – Confirms an applicant’s previous employment including dates, salary, reason for leaving, and rehire eligibility.

Professional Reference Check – This check involves calling previous employers to talk about an applicant’s job performance.

Professional Qualification Verification – This search verifies professional licenses for industries like medicine, accounting, engineering, law, and real estate, and shows any disciplinary actions filings.

Length of Time to Complete a Background Check

A standard background check will be completed in 48-72 hours (or sooner) most of the time. However, external factors, like what organizations have experienced during this pandemic and current economic recovery, can delay a background check. Hiring surges, courthouse closures, drug testing laboratory limitations, and HR difficulties have all impacted how long it takes to complete an accurate and full-service background check.

Additional factors include:

  • The specific jurisdictional requirements where the search is being conducted
  • Processes associated with certain jurisdictions, such as unique authorization forms
  • Technology limitations or incomplete records at the court
  • Holidays or court closures
  • The amount of information that requires additional investigation associated with the search
  • Common names – for example John Smith – may take longer since there are many people with that name. Extra verifications must be made to ensure the individual is the same John Smith applying for the position.

Your Screening Partner

Swift, accurate, and comprehensive pre-employment background checks are critical for organizations searching for a competitive edge as the turnover tsunami rolls on the rest of 2021.

While background checks may be complicated, EBI makes them easy. Our industry-leading technology allows for more than 55,000 customizations, allowing us to custom-build screening packages to fit your unique needs and requests.

We’re also widely recognized for our outstanding service:

  • 99.9% accuracy
  • 100% US-based support
  • 97% of calls handled by live US-based agents
  • Mobile candidate management
  • Single point-of-contact for contract duration
  • Monthly internal quality audits

We look forward to partnering with you soon. For more information on our award-winning background check services, contact us today.

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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