Criminal Background Checks

Employers often perform criminal background checks before making a decision to hire you or not hire you. Your hiring or even promotion may depend on information your employer or potential employer obtains from the background check. People applying for jobs, existing employees and even pro bono volunteers may be asked to allow criminal background checks. In fact, for some types of employment, federal or state law stipulates a background check.

Why Criminal Background Checks?

Employers will look into your background for several reasons, and the things they’re looking at or looking for may vary. For one thing, they may be trying to avoid a negligent hiring lawsuit. If an employee’s actins hurt someone, their employer may be liable for the damages. This threat motivates employers to check potential employees’ pasts. Child abuse and abductions in recent years have impelled employers to use criminal background checks when they hire workers who will be expected to work with children, and even volunteers like coaches or scout troop leaders.

Should You Worry If You Don’t Have Anything To Hide?

In-depth background checks could uncover irrelevant information, or flat out incorrect information, that nonetheless is damaging to you. The background check may also reveal information that is illegal to use for hiring purposes or which comes from unreliable sources.

What Do Criminal Background Checks Involve?

Background checks can vary from a mere verification of your social security number to a detailed account of your history and acquaintances. There is even some evidence that employers are now searching social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook for profiles of their applicants. A 2007 survey found that 44 percent of employers use these sites. The background check may include driving records, vehicle registrations, credit records, criminal records, social security number, education records, court records, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, character references, neighbor interviews, medical records, property ownership, military records, state licensing records, drug testing records, past employers, sex offender lists and more.

What Cannot Be Checked?

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has set national standards for the screening of potential employees. It is worth noting that the law does not apply to situations where the employer conducts background checks in-house, only to those performed by an outside company called a “consumer reporting agency." Your state may have stronger laws than the federal statutes. Look into this.

They are not allowed to report bankruptcies after 0 years, civil suits after 7 years, paid tax liens after seven years, accounts paid for collection after seven years, or any negative information over seven years old except criminal convictions.

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