Background Checks for Employment


You’ve read all the resumes, conducted all the interviews, and identified the perfect candidate. Is she the right one for the job? Before you commit, run a background check. It’s an objective, third-party look at an individual that helps protect your business from fraud and violence and gives you confidence in your hiring process. Here’s the scoop on this important hiring tool:

What’s In a Background Check?

The scope of background checks can vary depending on their purpose. Employers will usually run a pre-employment background screening on candidates, which includes things like work history, education history, criminal records, social media checks, and a drug test. Some employers start with very basic screens and then go deeper if the information merits a closer look. 

The different kinds of available background checks include the following:

  • Criminal record background checks that look for fraud, embezzlement, or felony convictions.
  • Office of the Inspector General (OIG) background checks that search specifically healthcare-related crime history.
  • E-Verify checks that verify an employee’s identity and eligibility to work legally in the United States.
  • Fingerprint checks examine a person’s criminal history using information from an authorized criminal justice agency.
  • International background checks use international records to verify education and employment and to look for criminal activity in other countries.
  • Credit background checks.
  • Education and professional license background checks.

The job can affect the type of background checks run. Some checks are industry-mandated. For example, healthcare workers have to undergo OIG checks, and employees of federal institutions must pass a fingerprint check. Evaluating the position and what information is relevant is an important component of any background check policy. 

What are the Laws?

Laws surrounding background checks are complicated and change often, so it’s important to regularly consult your legal team and work with a reputable background screening vendor to make certain you remain compliant. 

While your city and state may have their own guidelines relating to background checks, the most significant source of regulations over this process is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This act was passed for the purpose of protecting consumers from unfair treatment as a result of erroneous or incomplete information in consumer reports. A brief summary of your obligations under the FCRA includes the following:

  • Disclose that you are running a background check
  • Obtain written consent
  • Comply with the individual’s requests to view their information
  • Provide adequate notice of any adverse actions 
  • Agree to abide by privacy laws governing the collection, use, and storage of personal information

Where Should You Go to Get a Background Check?

While there’s nothing wrong with conducting your own research on a candidate, it’s important to note that any DIY search will be woefully inadequate and incomplete. There’s no single source of information (beware of any site making this claim), so you have to use multiple sources to get everything you need. This takes time and money.

The better option is to contract your background screenings to a third-party agency with extensive experience in your industry. These full-service companies conduct thorough, comprehensive screens quickly and at an affordable price. Plus, they take care of all the compliance issues, so you don’t have to worry about it. 

Before you hire, always check. 


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