Blog

Not All Background Checks Are Created Equal

Background Check ImageThere are many compelling reasons to run background checks, including ensuring a safe workplace, to hire qualified people, to minimize liability in the hiring process and to encourage honesty during the application phase.

Background checks can vary in the information collected, include criminal history, fingerprint services, resume verification services, driving records, sex offender registry searches, national criminal searches, consumer reports and more. Depending on the reason for the background check and the type of background check conducted, different data will be available.

There is no single all-encompassing background check database available in the United States. Many different databases can be used to conduct background checks on individuals. Two common types of background checks conducted are a fingerprint-based check and a name-based check.

Fingerprint-Based Check. Fingerprints are a form of “biometric-based” identification which means fingerprints are unique to the biology of every person.

What’s involved?

  • A fingerprint-based check uses fingerprints to identify an individual and to match any possible criminal records.
  • An FBI (Federal Conviction Records Check) search looks for:
    • Crimes involving federal law
    • Crimes that cross state boundaries
    • Crimes committed on federal property
  • An BCI&I (Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation) record checks through Internet-based WebCheck® and looks for state conviction records.

All reports are pass/fail and complete results can take up to 30 days. Since only one Ohio Revised Code item is searched at a time and Ohio has about 100 different codes, a background report from another company should not be accepted because it’s not always possible to know what Ohio Revised Code was checked.

Social Security and Name Screening. A name-based check uses a person’s name and sometimes their Social Security number to match any possible criminal records.

What’s involved?

  • It searches Department of Homeland Security Records and can also include a Social Security Administration records search.
  • It is an internet-based system, so customized searches can be conducted quick and affordable.

Beware of false records

  • Individuals can provide a false name and Social Security number, have multiple last names or use nicknames.
  • The National Mentoring Partnership estimates more than one percent of the 45 million individuals in the FBI criminal database have used more than 100 aliases and false Social Security numbers.
  • There can also be “false positives” that arise as criminal records found may belong to another individual with the same or similar name.

For the best results, select a background screening firm that specializes in background checks. They can help you determine what the law requires regarding background check for potential employees or volunteers. Free or very inexpensive background checks are often incomplete or inaccurate. Firms should provide comprehensive service and follow legal guidelines to ensure compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Firms can also check criminal, educational/employment verification and credit and make recommendations based on needs, the quality of data available and industry best practices.