Warning: How Far Back Do Background Checks Go?

how far back do background checks goHow many of you assume that when you order background checks that your screening partner provides a search as far back as they possibly can?   I am guessing many of you. It would never cross our mind to ask how far back do background checks go.  Common sense says forever.

However, common sense does not rule the background screening industry and your searches are probably limited to 7 years.  Yep, you screen a 43 year old applicant and the background screening firm will check back 7 years or to when he was 36.  Do you care what he did from 18-35?

If you don’t, you should.   A criminologist will confirm that most crimes are committed by offenders aged 18-40, so in our example we have excluded more than 18 years of prime crime committing years. 

Seem crazy?  Well, I agree.  I have never understood the background screening industry’s adoption of such a limited search.  The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act does not limit reporting of convictions to 7 years.  It does restrict the reporting of non-convictions unless the salary exceeds $75K.

And yes, there are a handful of states that have restrictions on how far back a criminal conviction record can be reported if it is for employment purposes.  However, most of the states remove the limitation if the salary of the position exceeds $20K- $25K per year. 

The reality is most states do not have any restrictions on reporting criminal convictions and there are not restrictions for reporting crimes committed by volunteers.

So do you want to limit your searches to 7 years and expose your organization to the risk of hiring a violent offender?  Of course you don’t.  The truth is you have probably never been told your background screening reports have been limited to 7 years.

So how far back do background checks go at Safe Hiring Solutions?  The simple answer is as far as we can go.    Man, does that sound like an answer from an attorney!

The depth of the search is impacted by two things:

  1. How far back the court records go; and/or
  2. How far back a state allows reporting of criminal convictions for employment purposes.

We do not charge additional fees to search back as far as the court records go, which in some states can be more than 25 years.  The safety and security of your organization should not be limited to 7 years.

If you are looking for a screening partner that does background checks correctly then contact us today for a FREE evaluation and proposal.