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What Shows Up On A Background Check?

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Probably the biggest challenge that felons face after their release is to get a job. Employers typically conduct a background check on applicants, making it challenging to find work.  

When employers run a background check, it is important to know exactly what will show up. That can help felons be prepared for what is discovered. This blog post will cover the issue of what does show when a background check is run.

  • What Is a Background Check?
  • Required Background Check?
  • What Does Show Up on a Background Check?
  • What Does Not Show up on a Background Check?
  • Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
  • Recommended Action


What Is a Background Check?

A background check is a process of searching for and discovering information about a person. What shows up on a background check depends on the type of background screening.

Most background checks are run by employers as part of the hiring process. This is typically done for several specific reasons. Among these are such things as: 

  • To avoid negligent hiring and to ensure that an employee’s actions will not hurt someone.
  • Because of concerns related to terrorism and to increase security.
  • To catch false information on applications.
  • To ensure the safety and welfare of children, the elderly, and disabled.

Generally, for positions requiring high security or trust employers want to make certain they make a good decision and to pinpoint hiring risks for security and safety issues

The information obtained in a background check allows employers to determine a job candidate’s: 

  • Past mistakes
  • Character
  • Moral and financial fitness

With all of this being said, the main reason for running a background check is to ensure employers hire the best candidate for a job.  

Many employers won’t hire felons, believing they are dishonest and likely to commit a crime on the job. It could be that employers fear the public finding out they hire felons, damaging the company’s reputation and losing business.

This leaves an employer in a difficult position for which the answer is to conduct a background check. There are employers who will hire felons, but it will not be easy. Of course, what has been easy since being released from incarceration? It will take persistence in completing a number of applications to find that job.

Required Background Check?

While background checks are not mandatory by law, they are required in these areas involving an individual’s personal and private information:

  • Home healthcare
  • Financial
  • Insurance field

What Does Show Up on a Background Check?

The information that shows up on a background check depends on who is doing the checking and the reason for the background check. Some employers may search every record available, but some may only run a criminal background check.

In conducting any type of background check, an applicant must include full name, date of birth, and Social Security Number.

Among the more essential types of information typically included in a background check are:

  • Social Security validation
  • Criminal records
  • Sex offender registry
  • Credit records
  • Driving records

There are also a number of other types of information that can be part of a background check, including:

  • Education records
  • Court records
  • Character references
  • Medical records
  • Military records
  • State licensing records
  • Drug test records
  • Past employers
  • Personal references
  • Social media profiles

Let’s take a look at some of the more important types of background checks and what is included in each.

Criminal Records

This portion of the background check involves a search of criminal history files for any criminal activity.

A criminal background check typically reveals the following information:

  • Convictions of felonies, misdemeanors, and sex crimes
  • Current home address and phone number as well as those within the past ten years
  • Arrests and court records (Dockets, orders, decrees, judgments)
  • Warrants
  • Incarceration records
  • Federal and state tax liens
  • Federal and civil judgments
  • Federal and state bankruptcies
  • Age and date of birth
  • Any alias’ and maiden names
  • Marriages and divorces

Types of Criminal Record Checks

The most common type of criminal record check is a county background check. This will show a felony criminal history and misdemeanors in most counties.  

Then, there is a federal criminal record check. This shows federal crimes and crimes committed on federal property.    

A statewide and nationwide check, sex offender registry, and a Global Homeland Security Search reveals if an individual is in any of these databases.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a criminal background check will show all non-convictions, including cases:

  • Dismissed
  • Nolle prossed (Will not prosecute)
  • Deferred Adjudication
  • Pre-trial diversion

Non-convictions are reportable for seven years. Convictions can be reported without any limitation.

The exception here is when felons have had their records expunged  or sealed at the time of the background check. These records would not appear on a background check.  

Conviction disclosures more than seven years old are not allowed in the following states:

  • California
  • Kansas
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Washington 

Social Security validation

This is used by employers to confirm a person’s eligibility to work in the U.S. It will show the name and address history regarding a particular Social Security Number.

Sex offender registry

A sex offender registry is a system for monitoring and tracking sex offenders after their release into the community. This registry contains information on all individuals convicted of a sex offense. All U.S. states are required to maintain a sex offender registry. There is also a national sex offender registry. 

Credit report

Employers can only check your credit report if you give them written permission. An employer cannot view your credit score, but they can view the following information:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Accounts place for collection
  • Loan information

Under the FCRA, an employer cannot see bankruptcies after 10 years in accounts placed in collection after seven years.

Driving records

Each state has its own rules regarding driving records. Some states allow employers check records as far back as 10 years while others only allow for three years. Driving records may be checked for persons applying for a job that requires driving as part of the job duties.

What Does Not Show Up on a Background Check?

Several types of information will typically not show up on a background check.

Records of juvenile convictions and attention they’ve been sealed by a court typically do not show up to the background search. All other criminal convictions may appear unless they happened in a state that denies disclosure of felony convictions after a certain time period.

State and federal laws may limit some of what can be reported on employment background checks. An applicant who is being considered for a job that pays less than $75,000 annually, then the following information will not appear:

  • Information on civil judgments
  • Government sanctions
  • Disciplinary measures related to any professional license

If the salary for a position is $75,000 or more, that same information may appear in the results even if it is older than seven years.  

Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?

Of course you can run a background check on yourself. Not only can you run a background check on yourself, it is highly recommended to do so. 

Felons can arm themselves with the information needed to be successful in applying to get a job by running a background check on themselves. 

There may be times when it is important to consult an attorney as part of the process. It is essential to take action and not risk a chance on the results.  

The different kinds of personal background checks that a felon can run include:

  • Court records  
  • Credit report
  • Driving records 
  • Educational report 

For those who want to do a background check on themselves, there are places that can help.

Recommended Action

Regardless of any felony history, it is important for felons to be honest in disclosing any conviction. If they are not and a background check reveals a felony, their chances for employment are gone.

Disclosing felony convictions provides felon the opportunity to explain their situation and describe the circumstances of their crime. Depending on the nature of the crime and length of time since the conviction, felons have the opportunity to present their case.

Remember to be smart about it and go into any situation prepared with the information that can make a critical difference in being successful. It is not about the mistakes you make but in how you recover from them that makes all the difference.

So what do you think about this blog post about what will show up on a background check? Have you or someone you know had a background check run? What was that like and how did that go? Please tell us in the comments below.

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