FAQ’s for Pre-Employment Background Screening
Answers to frequently asked questions about background screening and employment verification.
- Why do background checks?
Conducting background screening on employees has become a matter of necessity for employers for several reasons. Many applicants make false claims on their job applications/resumes or have been involved in criminal activity which they may not disclose. If you want to ensure a safer workplace and avoid negligent hiring lawsuits, the amount you would pay to pre-screen your applicants is very small compared to the legal fees you could have to pay later.
- What searches are included in a background check?
The basic searches ordered as part of most background checks are County Criminal Record Checks, MVR Reports, Employment Verifications, Education Verifications, Social Security Number Address Traces.
- What does a Social Security Number Trace reveal?
This is a very essential search that comes from credit headers. The results of this search will reveal all of the counties your applicant has reported using their Social Security Number, as well as dates reported and any other names your applicant may have used. This search is highly recommended because your applicant could have purposefully or inadvertently failed to disclose this information when they completed the disclosure and Authorization for background investigation form, because they may be trying to hide something.
- How long does it take to get reports?
In most cases, results will be returned in 24-72 business hours. There are cases, in which a county search may have delayed results for whatever reason. You should select a screening company you know will keep you constantly updated, so you are not wondering. Choosing a company that provides excellent customer service should be a huge deciding factor.
- Can your company provide services nationwide?
Yes, EmployersChoiceOnline.com is a nationwide provider of employment background screening services, as well as internationally.
- Does my applicant need to complete a signed release?
Yes, each applicant needs to complete and sign a release in order to be in compliance with the FCRA.
- Can’t I just use my own release form?
No. The Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), who is providing you with the confidential information about your applicant, must be listed on the release form. Your applicant is entitled to know who is providing you with the information. This is also required in case of any adverse action.
- Are your processes compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?
Yes. EmployersChoiceOnline.com is a founding member of the National Association for Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). We adhere to all guidelines set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), federal and state laws.
- How do you ensure confidential information is secure?
We ensure the privacy and protection of our clients’ data through systematic security measures in the areas of information technology. This information is hosted on our own secure servers. We back-up all of our data every evening and have all the necessary firewalls in place. Our reporting system is available only to our clients (authorized users), and all transmitted information is encrypted.
- What is Negligent Hiring?
Negligent hiring refers to a cause of action that arises from an employer's obligation not to hire an applicant that they knew or should have known was likely to undertake conduct against other individuals or otherwise subject employees or third parties to actions which can create legal liability. Through negligent hiring lawsuits, many employers have been found liable for their failure to conduct appropriate due diligence through a pre-employment background investigation. Negligent hiring and retention lawsuits have cost many companies millions of dollars in damages. Conducting background checks prior to hiring employees will help to protect your organization from the potential of civil litigation.
- How far does an employment background check go back?
Typically, employers requesting an employment background screening on an applicant will request a 7 year history, although some states allow reporting information of up to 10 years. If in the state of California, a potential applicant would be offered a salary of at least $125,000.00, the CRA can go back as far as 10 years. If this is not the case, the maximum allowed reportable period the state of California is 7 years.
Aside from California, there are 11 additional states that limit the reporting of a conviction to seven years from the date of disposition, end of parole or release from prison. The states listed and income exceptions are as follows:
Colorado-$75,000.00 (income exception), Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York-$25,000.00 (income exception), Texas-$75,000.00 (income exception), Washington-$20,000.00 (income exception).
- What are my obligations as an employer under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?
The applicant must complete and sign a release form provided to you by your background screening company. The release must be submitted to the background screening company, prior to conducting any type of background investigation, where an employment decision will be made. Provide your applicant with the Summary of Rights Under the FCRA document, and if in California, The California Statement of Consumer Rights form. These forms are hand-outs, advising your applicant’s of their rights when a consumer report is being requested about them. It is your obligation as an employer to maintain this information in your records for a minimum of five years.
- What if I decide to not hire someone based on the results of the background report? Can’t I just “tell” them I am not going to hire them because of the results of the background check?
No. Should you decide to disqualify someone employment, due to the results of the background check, you are legally obligated to go through the following steps:
Provide your applicant with a pre-adverse action letter, a copy of the entire background report, A Summary of your Rights Under the FCRA form, and if in California, The California Statement of Consumer Rights form. Your applicant has 3-5 business days to resolve and/or dispute any negative information contained in their report. The pre-adverse action letter must include the name of the CRA, address and phone number. This is so your applicant can contact the CRA, if they wish to do so, in order to find out the details regarding the negative information they wish to dispute.
Should the period of 3-5 business days pass and your applicant has not demonstrated they are in the process of disputing the information contained in their report, you must then provide your applicant with an adverse-action letter, a copy of the entire background report, A Summary of your Rights Under the FCRA form, and if in California, The California Statement of Consumer Rights form. The adverse action letter communicates to your applicant they are no longer being considered for employment and their decision was influenced by in the Consumer and/or Investigative Report, made at the employers request and provided by the name, address and phone number of the CRA.