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Encyclopedia > Background check

A background check is the process of looking up official and commercial records about a person. It was often done when someone applies for a job that requires high security like a school or a bank. It is traditionally done by the police but is now most often purchased as a service from a private business. Information usually includes the following: past employment, credit worthiness, and criminal history. These checks are important because they allow better informed and less-subjective evaluations to be made about a person but also pose risks. Other uses include improper and illegal discrimination, identity theft, and violation of privacy. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Identity theft is a term first appearing in U.S. literature in the 1990s, leading to the drafting of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. ...



It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into background check. ... In the United States, a credit score is a credit rating that represents an estimate of an individuals financial creditworthiness as calculated by a statistical model. ... For the record label, see Criminal Records A criminal record or rap sheet, is a compilation of an individuals identification, arrest, conviction (law), incarceration, legal status, sex offender registration, warrant information, and other relevant criminal history. ... For use by the United Nations, see Security Clearance (UN) A security clearance is a status granted to individuals allowing them access to classified information, i. ...

Pre-employment screening in UK

Pre-employment screening is used to verify the accuracy of an applicant's claims as well as to discover any possible criminal history, workers compensation claims, or employer sanctions. A criminal record or rap sheet is a generic term used to describe a compiled record of crimes that a person has committed or has allegedly committed. ... Workers compensation systems (colloquially known as workers comp in North American English or compo in Australian English) provides compensation for employees who are injured in the course of employment. ...

The problem screening tries to counter

A number of annual reports, including BDO Hayward's Fraudtrack 4[1] and CIFAS's [2] (the UK's fraud prevention service) 'The Enemy Within' have showed a rising level of major discrepancies and embellishments on CVs over previous years.Such business fraud cost UK businesses 1.4 bn in 2005.[3]

Almost half (48%) of organizations with fewer than 100 staff experienced problems with vetted employees.

39% of UK organizations have experienced a situation where their vetting procedures have allowed an employee to be hired who was later found to have lied or misrepresented themselves in their application.[4]

However, recent research by Powerchex shows a reverse in the trend. They found that in the 2006/7 period CV discrepancies had fallen by 31% to 13%.[5] Powerchex is a UK based pre-employment screening company specialising in the financial services sector in the City of London. ...

So why don't more employers vet staff more rigorously?
David Chernick from Reed_(Company) suggests that there are conflicting interests between employers' recruitment and protection or security activities: "Whilst the recruitment department focuses on hiring the best staff quickly and effectively, many hiring managers regard background checking as the bottleneck in their recruitment processes." He goes on to recommend: "ring-fencing background and reference checking from the recruitment department can introduce objectivity and know-how and the possibility of using an expert, dedicated service from an outside specialist, screening firm." Reed is a family-owned and run group of companies that places people into temporary and permanent employment across a number of disciplines, including accountancy, administration, computing, education, engineering, and insurance. ...

The Market

Larger companies are more likely to outsource than their smaller counterparts – the average staff size of the companies who outsource is 3,313 compared to 2,162 for those who carry out in-house checks.

Financial services firms had the highest proportion of respondents who outsource the service, with over a quarter (26%) doing so, compared to an overall average of 16% who outsource vetting to a third party provider.

The construction and property industry showed the lowest level of outsourcing, with 89% of such firms in the sample carrying out checks in-house.[6]

Types of Checks

  • Employment References
  • Education Verification - School grades, degree and any professional qualifications obtained
  • Character Reference Check
  • Gaps in employment history
  • Identity and Address Verification - whether the applicant is who he or she claims to be. Generally includes verification of the candidate’s present and previous addresses. Can include a money laundering, identity and terrorist check and one to verify the validity of passports (UK and international).
  • Whether an applicant holds a directorship
  • Credit History (UK/International) - bankruptcies, CCJs and the like.
  • Criminal History Report (UK/International)


The FSA states in their Training & Competence guidance that regulated firms should have:

  • Adequacy of procedures for taking into account knowledge and skills of potential recruits for the role
  • Adequacy of procedures for obtaining sufficient information about previous activities and training
  • Adequacy of procedures for ensuring that individuals have passed appropriate exams or have appropriate exemptions
  • Adequacy of procedures for assessing competence of individuals for sales roles

The FSA’s statutory objectives:

  1. Protecting consumers
  2. Maintaining market confidence
  3. Promoting public awareness
  4. Reducing financial crime


Employment screening can be a practical, low-cost way to significantly reduce employee theft and dishonesty and notably increase productivity and safety. Certain industries require employment checks on all employees. Examples include the banking, financial, and security industries, transportation industries, childcare, healthcare, and teaching industries, police, law enforcement, and certain military positions. The level of background investigation may vary from industry to industry or position to position. Employers who actively screen their applicants before hiring also face less liability in the event of a workplace accident or crime. Pre-employment screening is a primary way of eliminating or minimizing negligent hiring liability. Negligent hiring isa cause of action in tort law that arises where one party is held liable for negligence because they placed another party in a position of authority or responsibility, and an injury resulted because of this placement. ...

There are many companies that provide pre-employment screening services. One such company that has been featured in USA Today and Boardwatch Magazine is interactiveinfo.net.

Pre-employment screening in the US


Due to the sensitivity of the information contained in consumer reports and certain records, there are a variety of important laws regulating the dissemination and legal use of this information. Most notably, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the use of consumer reports (which it defines as information collected and reported by third party agencies) as it pertains to adverse decisions, notification to the consumer, and destruction and safekeeping of records. If a consumer report is used as a factor in an adverse hiring decision, the consumer must be presented with a “Pre-adverse action disclosure,” a copy of the FCRA summary of rights, and a “notification of adverse action letter.” Consumers are entitled to know the source of any information used against them including a credit reporting company. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is an American federal law (codified at 15 U.S.C. Â§ 1681 et seq. ... A credit rating agency (CRA) is a company that assigns credit ratings for issuers of certain types of debt obligations. ...

Types of Checks

There are a variety of types of investigative searches that can be used by potential employers. Many commercial sites will offer specific searches to employers for a fee. Services like these will actually perform the checks, supply the company with adverse action letters, and ensure compliance throughout the process. It is important to be selective about which pre-employment screening agency you use. A legitimate company will be happy to explain the process to you.

Many employers choose to search the most common records such as criminal records, driving records, and education verification. Other searches such as sex offender registry, credential verification, reference checks, credit reports and Patriot Act searches are becoming increasingly common. Employers should consider the position in question when determining which types of searches to include, and should always use the same searches for every applicant being considered for one position. In about the last ten years or so, many jurisdictions, especially in the United States, have passed laws requiring sex offenders, especially child sex offenders, upon conviction or subsequent release from prison, to register with the police where they live. ... This article needs cleanup. ...


They are frequently conducted to confirm information found on an employment application or résumé/curriculum vitae. They may also be conducted as a way to further differentiate potential employees and pick the one the employer feels is best suited for the position. In the United States, the Brady Bill requires criminal checks for those wishing to purchase handguns from licensed firearms dealers. Restricted firearms (like machine guns), suppressors, explosives or large quantities of precursor chemicals, and concealed weapons permits also require criminal checks. Checks are also required for those working in positions with special security concerns, such as trucking, ports of entry, and airline transportation. Other laws exist to prevent those who do not pass a criminal check from working in careers involving the elderly, disabled, or children. Look up résumé, curriculum vitae, resume in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... ... The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, Pub. ... A Browning 9 millimeter Hi-Power Ordnance pistol of the French Navy, 19th century, using a Percussion cap mechanism Derringers were small and easily hidden. ... A firearm is a kinetic energy weapon that fires either a single or multiple projectiles propelled at high velocity by the gases produced by action of the rapid confined burning of a propellant. ... A machine gun is a fully-automatic firearm that is capable of firing bullets in rapid succession. ... Several firearms with detachable suppressors Bolt-action rimfire rifle with suppressor Semiautomatic rimfire pistol with suppressor A suppressor or sound moderator is a device attached to a firearm to reduce the amount of noise and flash generated by firing the weapon. ... Preparing C-4 explosive This article is concerned solely with chemical explosives. ... A chemical substance is any material substance used in or obtained by a process in chemistry: A chemical compound is a substance consisting of two or more chemical elements that are chemically combined in fixed proportions. ... In the United States, concealed carry is the right to carry a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed manner. ... A port of entry is a place where one may lawfully enter a country. ...

Possible Information Included

The amount of information included on a check depends to a large degree on the sensitivity of the reason for which it is conducted—e.g., somebody seeking employment at a minimum wage job would be subject to far fewer requirements than somebody applying to work for the FBI. The minimum wage is the minimum rate a worker can legally be paid (usually per hour) as opposed to wages that are determined by the forces of supply and demand in a free market. ... The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal criminal investigative, intelligence agency, and the primary investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). ...

Criminal and incarceration records
Litigation records
Employers may want to identify potential employees who routinely file discrimination lawsuits. It has also been alleged that in the U.S., employers that do work for the government do not like to hire whistleblowers who have a history of filing qui tam suits.
Driving and vehicle records
Employers in the transportation sector seek drivers with clean driving records--i.e., those without a history of accidents or traffic tickets.
Drug tests
are used for a variety of reasons--corporate ethics, measuring potential employee performance, and keeping workers' compensation premiums down.
Education records
These are used primarily to see if the potential employee had in fact received a college degree, graduate degree, or some other accredited university degree. There are reports of SAT scores being requested by employers as well.
Employment records
These usually range from simple verbal confirmations of past employment and timeframe to deeper, such as discussions about performance, activities and accomplishments, and relations with others.
Financial information
Credit scores, liens, civil judgments, or bankruptcy may be included in the report.
Licensing records
A government authority that has some oversight over professional conduct of its licensees will also maintain records regarding the licensee, such as personal information, education, complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions.
Military records
Although not as common today as it was in the past fifty years, employers frequently requested the specifics of one's military discharge.
Social Security Number
(or equivalent outside the US). A fraudulent SSN may be indicative of identity theft, insufficient citizenship, or concealment of a "past life".
Polygraph test
Also known as a psychophysiological detection of deception (PDD) examination.
Other interpersonal interviews
Employers will usually wish to speak with potential employees' references to gauge employability. More intensive checks can involve interviews with anybody that knew or previously knew the applicant--such as teachers, friends, coworkers, and family members.

There are many companies that provide pre-employment screening services. One such company that has been featured in USA Today and Boardwatch Magazine is interactiveinfo.net. In an accident resulting from excessive speed, this concrete truck rolled over into the front garden of a house. ... A moving violation is any violation of the law, committed by the driver of a vehicle, while it is in motion. ... For the episode of the American television series The Office, see Drug Testing. A drug test is commonly a technical examination of urine, blood, sweat, or oral fluid samples to determine the presence or absence of specified drugs or their metabolized traces. ... Workers compensation (colloquially known as workers comp in North American English or compo in Australian English) provides insurance to cover medical care and compensation for employees who are injured in the course of employment, in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employees right to sue their employer for the... A degree is any of a wide range of status levels conferred by institutions of higher education, such as universities, normally as the result of successfully completing a program of study. ... For other uses, see SAT (disambiguation). ... A credit score is a numerical expression based on a statistical analysis of a persons credit files, to represent the creditworthiness of that person, which is the likelihood that the person will pay his or her debts in a timely manner. ... In law, lien is the broadest term for any sort of charge or encumbrance against an item of property that secures the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation. ... A judgment or judgement (see spelling note below), in a legal context, is synonymous with the formal decision made by a court following a lawsuit. ... Notice of closure stuck on the door of a computer store the day after its parent company, Granville Technology Group Ltd, declared bankruptcy (strictly, put into administration—see text) in the United Kingdom. ... A military discharge is given when a member of the armed forces is released from his or her obligation to serve. ... Identity theft is a term first appearing in U.S. literature in the 1990s, leading to the drafting of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. ... “Citizen” redirects here. ... A polygraph or lie detector is a device which measures and records several physiological variables such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and skin conductivity while a series of questions is being asked, in an attempt to detect lies. ... For referencing in Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Citing sources. ...


Drug tests and credit checks for employment are highly controversial practices. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a project of the Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN): "While some people are not concerned about background investigations, others are uncomfortable with the idea of investigators poking around in their personal histories. In-depth checks could unearth information that is irrelevant, taken out of context, or just plain wrong. A further concern is that the report might include information that is illegal to use for hiring purposes or which comes from questionable sources." For the episode of the American television series The Office, see Drug Testing. A drug test is commonly a technical examination of urine, blood, sweat, or oral fluid samples to determine the presence or absence of specified drugs or their metabolized traces. ... Credit history or credit report is, in many countries, a record of an individuals or companys past borrowing and repaying, including information about late payments and bankruptcy. ...

In May 2002, allegedly improper post-hire checks conducted by Northwest Airlines were the subject of a civil lawsuit between Northwest and 10,000 of their mechanics. 2002 : January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December A timeline of events in the news for May, 2002. ... Northwest Airlines (NYSE: NWA), occasionally known as NWA, is an American airline headquartered in Eagan, Minnesota, near Minneapolis-St. ... It has been suggested that civil trial be merged into this article or section. ...

In the case of an arrest that did not lead to a conviction, employment checks can continue including the arrest record for up to seven years, per § 605 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is an American federal law (codified at 15 U.S.C. Â§ 1681 et seq. ...

Except as authorized under subsection (b) of this section, no consumer reporting agency may make any consumer report containing . . . Civil suits, civil judgments, and records of arrest that from date of entry, antedate the report by more than seven years or until the governing statute of limitations has expired, whichever is the longer period.

Subsection (b) provides for an exception if the report is in connection with "the employment of any individual at an annual salary which equals, or which may reasonably be expected to equal $75,000, or more"[1].

Some proposals for decreasing potential harm to innocent applicants include:

  • Furnishing the applicant with a copy of the report before it is given to the employer, so that any inaccuracies can be addressed beforehand; and
  • Allowing only conviction (not arrest) records to be reported.

In New Zealand, criminal checks have been affected by the Clean Slate Act 2004, which allows individuals to legally conceal "less serious" convictions from their records provided they had been conviction-free for at least seven years.

In Michigan, the system of criminal checks has been criticized in a recent case where a shooting suspect was able to pass an FBI check to purchase a shotgun although he had failed the check for a state handgun permit. According to the spokesman of the local police department, This article is about the U.S. State. ...

... you could have a clear criminal history but still have contacts with law enforcement that would not rise to the level of an arrest or conviction [that can be used] to deny a permit whether or not those involved arrests that might show up on a criminal history.[7]

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has criticized the federal policy, which denies constitutional rights based on a criminal check only if the subject has been accused of a crime.

Public Records Pay Sites

Taking advantage of public records availability in the United States, a number of Web based companies began purchasing U.S. public records data and selling it online, primarily to assist the general public in locating people. Many of these sites advertise background research and provide employers and/or landlords with fee-based checks. Public records refers to information that has been filed or recorded by public agencies, such as corporate and property records. ...

However, there has been a growing movement on the web to use advertising-based models to subsidize background checks. These companies display targeted ads next to the reports delivered to landlords or employers. Some of the reports provided by these pay sites are only expanded versions of a basic (people search) providing a 20 year history of addresses, phone numbers, marriages and divorces, businesses owned and property ownership. Usually, these sites will also provide a nationwide criminal report for an added charge.


  1. ^ BDO Fraudtrack 4 Report
  2. ^ CIFAS - The Enemy Within
  3. ^ Fraud Track 4 Report
  4. ^ Business Europe Article
  5. ^ Money guardian
  6. ^ Powerchex Annual Pre-employment Survey
  7. ^ Kathy Barks Hoffman, Associated Press, 10:33 am EDT Apr 13, "Mich. shooting suspect was denied permit"

  Results from FactBites:
Employment Background Checks (5214 words)
Under the FCRA, a background check report is called a "consumer report." This is the same "official" name given to your credit report, and the same limits on disclosure apply.
Now, companies that provide employment background check reports have to, as a minimum, set up a toll-free number that gives you instructions on how to get the information in your "file." Companies may but are not required to also provide access to the free "file" disclosure through a web site address.
Notice of a background check has to be on a separate form.
Accurateinformationsystems.com - criminal background checks, pre-employment screening, driving records (792 words)
AIS, Inc. now provides employee screening, employee background checks, and criminal background checks to every state and county in the United States as well as the provinces, territories and magistrates of over 60 foreign countries.
Investigations, background checks, and other employee screenings conducted by Accurate are confidential, legal and ethical.
Reports criminal background checks of felony and/or misdemeanor records in the county you are requesting.
  More results at FactBites »



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