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Criminal Background Checks: What is the Process?

November 8, 2018 | Blog

Most hiring managers can agree that running a criminal background check on prospective new hires is a good idea. However, there are a variety of different options available to businesses looking to verify their applicants. Without a thorough understanding of the process, it is difficult to utilize the resulting information properly. Here we will discuss the process of a thorough criminal background check, and how it can work for your organization.

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Social Security Tracing and Alias Searching

Many people may not know that criminal records are cataloged by name and date of birth, rather than by social security number. Therefore, any criminal activity that may have been performed under an alias may not be picked up under a standard criminal record search. To provide the most thorough screening possible an SSN trace is the best place to start. An SSN trace can identify discrepancies in the applicant's history that may indicate aliases or identity fraud.

Any identified aliases should be verified in remaining background check procedures. SSN tracing will also produce a residential history of the applicant, useful in determining what records to check.

County Criminal Record Check

Though certain counties will provide criminal records electronically or via mail, acquiring a criminal record often requires visiting the courthouse in person. The results can be very useful, providing the applicants history of misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as open warrants, pending cases, and more. Though the time period varies by state, most will provide seven years of history.

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However useful these records may be, it is challenging to gather records from every county that an applicant has resided in, particularly in a case where the individual may have lived in a variety of cities, counties, or states. Working with an experienced background screening company that has mastered county records searches will save you time and frustration.

State Criminal Record Check

Well, shouldn't you be able to simplify the county records search dilemma by requesting state criminal records? If only it were that easy. Though all counties report their criminal records to the state level, not all states allow access to their statewide repository. Additionally, the time span reported varies significantly by county and state. Also, while counties are required to report their record, they are not always successful in reporting all their records. However, if possible to access a state's records, one can do so by searching the State Central Criminal Repository.

Federal Criminal Record Check

Federal criminal record checks will result in similar information to those available at the county and state level, but for actions in the Federal Court System. These records will not result from a screening at the state or county level. Additionally, these records do not contain date of birth information in their files, which can significantly hinder fast results.

Other Databases to Search

Many other resources can be utilized in a thorough background screening. The National Criminal Records Database is a proprietary collection consisting of more than 500 million records. The primary goal of this resource is to help identify other areas to research, and information gathered here should not be utilized without further verification.

The National Sex Offender Registry Contains information on individuals convicted of sexually violent crimes in all US states and territories. The individuals that are allowed to appear on this registry vary from state to state.

Global Watch Alert can determine in an individual appears on any number of terror watch lists maintained by a variety of domestic and foreign organizations.

Though they should be used very carefully if obtained, a check of civil records will produce the applicant’s history in family court, small claims court, and other civil courts. Finally, checks of the applicants’ motor vehicle records, likely vital if they will be driving for your organization, can also display a history of substance abuse or recklessness.

It’s a lot of work to do a thorough background check. However, if you want to know how vital they are, just ask anyone who has seen their employee’s workplace crimes put their company in the news. You can’t afford to make those mistakes. Luckily, a reputable background screening company is relatively easy to find. They know the ins and outs of the process and can handle it all for you without the hassle and legwork. Call CNet to learn more today.