There is no single or distinct answer to the above question given there are different types of background checks. Furthermore, the same kind of background check can take different times to complete because of various factors ranging from the type of information being sought after to technicalities, such as wrong names and legal requirements.
In general, checks on an individual’s criminal record can take a few hours to several days. The time varies depending on the legal procedures as well as the number of results. A typical background check on a person’s employment and educational history can take several days depending on factors, such as the willingness of the individual’s former/current employer(s) and school(s) to respond. It can take several days or even weeks of attempts in order for the investigative consumer agency to obtain all the information being sought. Read below for a more in-depth discussion on how long background checks take.
Factors affecting how long background checks take
How long do pre-employment background checks take?
Pre-employment background checks are typically performed before a person is hired. The main aim of such checks is to verify the information provided by job applicants. Existing employees may also be subjected to background check regularly (i.e., semi- annually or annually). Such checks are meant to ensure a secure and safe working environment.
The turnaround time for a typical pre-employment background check is three days to a week. The timeline varies based on several factors that may or may not be within an employer’s control. For instance, checks being conducted by institutions such as the FBI usually take a month or less. There are some instant employment background checks available in the US today; however, it takes some time to get comprehensive information spanning for years. Instant checks are also prone to errors. Reputable agencies such as the FBI advise employers to wait a longer period to get in-depth and accurate reports.
Why do background checks take longer than necessary
Incomplete or inaccurate request forms
Most pre-employment background checks take longer than necessary because they are done using incomplete or inaccurate check request forms. Any background check done based on wrong information will take longer given the back-and-forth process of getting the right information. The employer must ensure background check request forms are completed accurately, and all other requirements are met to save time and ensure the correct information is acquired initially.
Lack of necessary authorization
For an employment background check to be conducted in the US, the subject – job applicant or employee must give authorization by signing a release form. This is a federal law requirement that must be met. Employers must also notify applicants formally via a letter that a background check will take place. Individuals who are subject to illegal background checks (checks done without consenting) can take legal action against employers or other parties that initiate those background checks.
Delays in record checking
Reputable agencies like the FBI may work faster when conducting background checks because they already have information about people and don’t rely on the information provided by job applicants. Also, some institutions (schools and employers) may not have computerized records of all past students and employees. What’s more, there is no time limit for getting background check information from these institutions as is the case with state and government departments.
There are no guarantees that information collected initially during background checks will be accurate. Honest mistakes like confusion over names can delay background checks. To avoid this, searches usually take place, including common variants of different names. For instance, the name Steven and Stephen can be used to search for records of an applicant called Steve, which increases the time it takes to complete a background check. Once this is done, the final records must also be verified to ensure they belong to the right person.
The need to run multiple checks
In most cases, multiple background checks must be done on a subject to collect enough information. For instance, a criminal background check may need to be done alongside a license and education check to get comprehensive information about a person. The government agency or background check company may also be required to source information from multiple databases or sources.
If the subject of the background check (i.e., job applicant) has lived or worked outside the US, the process is bound to take longer as such checks require international cooperation (between governments, private and public institutions) to complete. Legal challenges also tend to arise when gathering personal information from institutions across borders.
Background history requests for information held outside the US may require specific releases among other documentation to be processed. International bodies such as law enforcement, non-US courts, and other government institutions which keep criminal records also tend to be backlogged, increasing the time it takes for them to respond to background information requests.
Additional information requests
It can be hard for agencies or institutions conducting checks to contact former educational institutions or employers. In such cases, job applicants must provide additional information to help verify information in their applications or resumes. Such a request will take time. If the applicant doesn’t have the required documentation available immediately, the background check process will take even more time.
This only applies to criminal background checks which must be prepared using information obtained from courts which tend to be backlogged.
Pre-employment background checks that require drug testing may take longer since samples must be collected and analyzed in the lab before results are acquired.
Type of checks, searches, and verifications
The time it takes to do a background check will also vary depending on the checks and searches that must be done to complete a check.
Identity checks are almost instant; however, some may take a few days. Verifying identity based on a passport, driver’s license, social security number, or any other type of identification document can be done instantly. However, most employers won’t stop at simple checks.
After confirming identity, employers may want to conduct a credit check which can take one or two days to complete. Credit checks can take longer if an employer wants information from more than one credit reference bureau because different bureaus may have different credit information about the same person.
Background checks also involve employment verifications. Employers want to know if you really worked for the companies listed in your job history. To ascertain this, they must engage human resource departments of past employers to verify if you worked there, how long you worked, what your responsibilities were as well as other information that may be present in your CV. Employment verifications can take days to weeks depending on your employment history as well as the willingness of past employers to share information.
Pre-employment background checks also involve academic verifications. Employers must confirm the academic accomplishments of candidates before employing them. To do this, they must contact universities, schools, and other learning institutions listed in an applicant’s CV. This process can take a day to weeks, even longer if the learning institutions are on holiday or understaffed. Some learning institutions may also ask for release forms before sharing academic information of past students.
The professional qualifications of candidates must also be verified in pre-employment background checks. The verification process involves contacting trade organizations, certification, and licensing bodies. Verifying professional qualifications is easy if a candidate provides a registration number or other forms of unique identification. If the professional qualification in question is rare with no online database, the background check will take longer.
Most pre-employment background checks also involve criminal checks which cover global watch list checks to confirm applicants aren’t known or wanted criminals facing regulatory sanctions. Watch list checks can take a day or two if the right authorities are involved.
If the check in question has an online database, the process can be done instantly. Examples of checks that can be done instantly in the US include Social Security Number verification, state court criminal record checks, and sex offender checks. Direct court searches in the US take 2 to 4 business days. However, it can take longer if the county court in question doesn’t use online databases. In such cases, records are obtained by visiting the courthouse in person, which takes more time.
Most states in the US have instant criminal databases online. When conducting checks from the over 46 States which have online criminal databases, checks can be completed in minutes. For States like Massachusetts, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Delaware which don’t use online databases, records can take 2 to 4 days to obtain.
Since the US doesn’t have a national criminal database accessible to the public, national background checks get records from the Federal District Court and records obtained from multiple states. Records from the Federal District Court include crimes enforced as well as prosecuted by the DEA, FBI, and ATF among other government agencies. Federal records are available instantly through District Courts.
Summary of turnaround time for background checks
Turnaround Time for pre-employment background checks
The above information summaries most, if not all the factors that dictate how long a pre-employment or employment background check takes. Many factors make it very difficult to give a specific timeline. With all the above factors in consideration, employment background checks can take a few hours, days, weeks, or even months given the complexity of obtaining the information required. Typical employment checks take up to five business days. If special checks are done and jurisdictional issues or technical issues arise, the process will take longer.
Turnaround Time for criminal background checks
Normally, a criminal background check will take one to three days. It can take hours if the checks required can be concluded via readily accessible online database searches.
Turnaround time for federal background checks
Federal background checks can be done instantly given most records are in online databases. Federal checks across the 94 United States federal courts for federal tax evasion, embezzlement, mail fraud, interstate trafficking, identity theft, and crimes on federal property take a day. Additional manual searches can extend the process to 1 – 3 days. Given federal background checks focus on crimes at federal level, most employers search state criminal records as well to get more comprehensive reports.
Turnaround time for gun background checks
Gun or universal background checks done by the FBI take minutes to process since information is readily available in a national database (NICS). A gun background check is a requirement for individuals who want to own firearms from licensed manufacturers, dealers, or importers. Some careers i.e., law enforcement demand gun background checks.
Turnaround time for a fingerprint background check
The FBI processes fingerprint background checks in 3 days. The checks compare a subject’s fingerprints with those in the FBI’s database system of fingerprints (IAFIS). Fingerprint background checks such as Level 2 background checks (discussed below) are more in-depth than typical checks. A fingerprint check is required when applying for jobs in government-run institutions like airports, hospitals, public schools fire departments, and law enforcement agencies. Some employers, such as those who are in the business of caring for the elderly, minors, or other vulnerable groups, may also demand fingerprint background checks. Although 3 days is enough for a complete check, poor fingerprint quality may increase the time it takes to complete a fingerprint background check. If the subject’s fingerprint is attached to a criminal history, it may take longer to conclude a check. 
How do you speed up a background check?
As a subject i.e., a job applicant that is subject to a pre-employment background check, it’s in your best interests for the check to be concluded as fast as possible. Although the time it takes to finish a background check can depend on factors beyond your control, some things that can be done by an applicant and employer to speed up the process. These things include:
- Working with the right provider
- Collecting accurate information
- Complying with the law
- Starting the process early
- Taking judgement calls
Work with the right provider
Employers can speed up background checks by choosing background check providers that meet their hiring needs. Employers are guilty of considering cost as the sole determining factor when choosing providers. This shouldn’t be the case. The best providers are those with adequate resources and integrations with courthouses, law enforcement authorities, among other sources of background information. The best providers also utilize online processes as much as possible to reduce unnecessary delays.
Collect accurate information
As an employer looking to spend the least time doing background checks for job candidates, it’s important to ensure candidates provide all the necessary information required from full names to SSNs. Employers must also insist on accuracy to avoid delays caused by errors and omissions. Job candidates who provide wrong information knowingly/unknowingly are bound to cause unnecessary delays, which can be compounded if they take a lot of time to respond to/amend errors. Ideally, job applicants should understand the consequences of submitting inaccurate information beforehand.
Comply with the law
There are requirements to be met before background checks are conducted by the relevant agencies or authorities. These requirements are discussed below. For instance, a job applicant must agree to a pre-employment check before it is done. Adhering to these requirements initially will ensure agencies conduct background checks fast and smoothly.
Start the process early
Background checks will almost always require correspondence and liaising with multiple parties ranging from law enforcement authorities to courts and learning institutions. Such organizations get many screening requests on a daily basis. Starting the background check process early will help in avoiding unnecessary delays.
Take judgment calls
Employers conducting pre-employment checks can reduce the time it takes to do background checks by taking judgment calls where non-critical data is insufficient. There are zero guarantees that an employer will find all the information they need about all job candidates. In such cases, judgment calls can reduce the time wasted on “seemingly incomplete” checks. For instance; if you can verify most previous employers of an applicant but can’t get information on the first employer, such information can be disregarded.
FAQs about background checks
What is a background check?
A background check is a process of searching and compiling the employment history, commercial records, criminal records, and/or financial records of a person or organization. The legitimacy, frequency, and purpose of background checks vary between, industries, countries, and individuals. The method used to conduct a background check can also vary. For instance, a background check can involve personal references to comprehensive database searches. Also, there are several types of background checks.
The most common types – employee background checks are usually requested by employers for employment screening purposes, especially on job candidates seeking employment positions that demand a high level of security, confidentiality, and trust. Schools, courthouses, hospitals, airport, financial institutions, and government are examples of employers who often request background checks. The checks are usually administered by government agencies at a fee but can also be carried out by private institutions.
Reasons for conducting background checks
Background checks are used by employers as a basis for judging past mistakes, fitness and the character of job seekers to identify potential safety and security risks should the candidate be hired. In the US, background checks are used by government on current and potential employees to inform security clearance decisions. However, there are instances where background checks are conducted for illegal reasons such as for; unlawful or employment discrimination, violation of privacy and identity theft.
Majority of background checks are conducted to confirm information submitted in employment applications or resumes. Checks are also conducted to identify exemplary potential employees that are best suited for certain jobs. Background checks have also become a necessity in workplaces today for security reasons. Employers have an obligation to provide safe working environments at work.
In the US, the obligation to conduct background checks is enshrined in law. In the Brady Bill, for instance, licensed firearm dealers must do criminal background checks on individuals who want to buy handguns. Restricted firearms, concealed weapons permits, precursor chemicals also require criminal background checks.
If you work in positions posing special security concerns like trucking, airline transportation, ports of entry, you may be required to go through regular checks in most countries, including the US. There are also laws in existence, preventing individuals who don’t pass criminal background checks from working in careers involving children, the elderly and disabled. 
What shows up on a background check
The information found in a background check is dependent on the type of background check in question. Each background check uncovers different types of personal background information. Since information uncovered in background checks is very sensitive, it is subject to privacy protection regulations. Background check information falls under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) with requirements on how such information is handled by employers specified by the EEOC. Retention and sharing of background information is also subject to some additional local and state guidelines.
What shows up in criminal background checks?
Almost all background checks will investigate an individual’s criminal history. The information uncovered is based on the information provided. In the case of a person seeking employment, their background check will be based on supplied information such as their Social Security No. A criminal background check will reveal:
- Pending criminal cases
- Felony and misdemeanor conviction
- History of incarceration
- Arrests pending prosecution (can also be reported)
- Arrests that didn’t lead to convictions can also appear.
Juvenile detention or convictions don’t normally appear in a criminal background check; however, other criminal convictions will show up unless your state forbids disclosure of such convictions after a specific time period. For instance, disclosure of convictions which are over seven years old is forbidden in states like New York, Washington, Montana, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, California, and Kansas. Some states like Hawaii forbid disclosure after ten years.
What shows up in pre-employment background checks?
Employers usually conduct criminal background checks and reference checks to verify information on; past education, employment, and professional licenses. Employers usually specify pre-hiring screening requirements based on the nature of a job position. For instance, an employer may specify they search the driving records of candidates or require applicants to undergo drug testing as a pre- employment requirement. Such testing is common in jobs involving operation of delicate/hazardous equipment and motor vehicles or roles with demanding elements of responsibility on the safety of customers, public or fellow employees.
Limitations based on pay
There are specific state and federal regulations limiting what is reported in employment checks based on the salary of the job in question.
For instance, if a job applicant is being considered for employment in a job position that pays $74,999 and below annually, information on government sanctions, civil judgments and disciplinary measures linked to professional licenses should not show up in their background check results. If the salary is $75,000 and above, that information can appear regardless of the age of the information. 
What shows up in FBI background checks?
If you are searching for employment in federal government agencies or companies that work with/for government agencies in the US and beyond, you will be subject to an FBI background check. As the name suggests, the background check is done by the FBI to uncover comprehensive background information about a person.
FBI background checks uncover all interactions an individual has had in the past and present with law enforcement agencies which offer criminal information to the FBI. Besides convictions, an FBI background check will also include all arrests, traffic violations, parking tickets and any other information collected by the FBI.
Before an FBI background check is done, job applicants must agree to fingerprinting conducted by an authorized law enforcement agency. Fingerprints are scanned against the FBI’s fingerprint (IAFIS) database which contains fingerprints compiled by immigration officials, law enforcement agencies and past employment screenings. Fingerprints may be checked against other databases like the NCIC, which contains criminal information history of individuals, wanted criminals, sex offenders, terrorists, etc.
FBI checks are usually part of the steps of obtaining security clearance for jobs in government agencies or companies working with government agencies. Besides checks, job applicants must undergo other processes, including interviews. 
Information/documents required or retrieved by background searches
Identity & Social Security verification
Anyone who is eligible to work in America must have a social security number. Job applicants are required to surrender this no. as part of the verification process. Your social security number yields a screening report that shows your name and address history. It can also show if the no. has been in use. SSN information helps to cross-reference information provided by job applicants to detect inaccuracies.
Some background checks may require credit report information. If you are seeking employment in the financial industry sector, you may be required to have a good credit history for obvious reasons. Credit reports offer identity information such as name, address, and date of birth. Credit reports also contain credit inquiries, loan information, and A/Cs placed for collection. Such information uncovers past credit inquires identifying financial institutions and lenders which have requested a person’s credit report.
Credit reports may contain information about previous bankruptcies, which can be a warning sign for employers seeking to hire you in job positions requiring you to handle money. High debt levels or excessive spending can be an indication of financial irresponsibility.
Important: Employers can’t see bankruptcy information after 10 years as well as A/Cs placed for collection after 7 years.
Although states can have varying rules and regulations on driving records, most allow checks as far as a decade. Some states allow just three years of records.
Background checks can also reveal military records, character references, worker’s compensation, drug test records, etc. However, different states have different laws governing how much information is available to third parties.
Will traffic tickets show up in a background check?
Most consumer reporting agencies report traffic infractions when background checks are being done. However, some omit such details if they aren’t requested.
Will dismissed charges show up in a background check?
Dismissed cases may or may not appear in criminal background checks. The EEOC has guidelines forbidding denying job applicants opportunities based solely on arrests that don’t result in convictions.
Will restraining orders or order protections show up in a background check?
Restraining orders are treated as civil matters. They rarely appear in criminal background checks unless as a footnote in a criminal record. Restraining orders may appear in databases and websites offering public information – resources used in pre-employment screening.
Will sealed or expunged records show up in a background check?
When courts expunge trial or conviction records, case files are removed from public access, and convicted parties or defendants are not obligated to disclose details about the case when enquires about their criminal history are made. As a result, a sealed case shouldn’t show up in a pre-employment background check. However, there exists a time delay between case resolutions and the decision to expunge records. This time delay is the reason why expunged or sealed records appear in criminal background searches for a while. For this reason, the existence of an expunged conviction shouldn’t be used to discriminate. 
Important: Some background checks i.e., level 2 checks may require expunged convictions involving mistreatment of children among other vulnerable individuals legally reported. However, such disclosures require a court order.
In summary, what shows up in a background check will be dictated by various factors including; the type of check, who is doing it, why they are doing it as well as the laws that apply in that state and generally such as FCRA restrictions. In regards to the person or entity conducting a background check, the FCRA has specific restrictions when an employer or any other institution conducts a background check via consumer reporting agencies. If the employer conducts checks internally (i.e., via the HR department) FCRA restrictions don’t apply. 
How far back do background checks go?
The FCRA dictates how far background checks go. Employers, among other institutions that carry out background checks for purposes of pre-employment screening must follow strict rules. Some of the FCRA limits placed on background reports include:
- Tax liens, accounts in collection, civil suits and judgments can’t be reported if they are 7 or more years old
- Bankruptcies that are 10 years or more can’t be reported
- Expunged felonies/criminal cases can’t be reported/revealed unless by court order.
How far back does a criminal background check go?
Criminal background checks aren’t restricted by a federal act. For this reason, convictions that took place decades ago can be seen in criminal background checks. This information can be beneficial to an employer but creates a bias against a job seeker even if they have reformed and proven themselves. Luckily FCRA rules safeguard discrimination and encourage making hiring decisions based on eligibility for existing role.
Generally, there are no limitations on criminal checks, although some states have laws limiting how far background checks go. Existing laws put limits depending on the salary of the position in question. Current limits prevent criminal checks from checking for convictions past 7 years old. In New Hampshire, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland and Kansas, criminal background checks can’t surpass 7 years for positions offering salaries up to $20,000 per year. The salary cap for New York is $25,000, while that of Colorado and Texas is $75,000. If salaries exceed the above limitations, criminal background checks can be conducted beyond 7 years. 
Permission to run background checks
Employers can’t run background checks for employment purposes without getting a job applicant’s permission to do so. This requirement must be observed as per FCRA rules. Employers must offer you a notification and explanation as to why they want to conduct a background check, and the check can’t proceed without your consent. The importance of familiarizing yourself with the requirements for running legal background checks can’t be overlooked for obvious reasons.
Employer obligations under the FCRA
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, applicants must complete as well as sign release forms provided by employers via background screening companies. Background screening companies must have releases before conduction any background investigations.
Employers must also provide applicants with forms advising job applicants on their rights under the FCRA when background checks are requested about them. If the jurisdiction is California, a state statement of consumer rights should be provided. Lastly, employers are tasked with maintain information collected in your records confidentially for at least five years.
What does an employer look for in a background check?
Knowing what employers look for precisely in pre-employment background checks is important for preparing for job application. Most employers look for:
- Criminal history
- Inconsistencies in job applications and resumes
- Credit history
- Driving records
- Civil history
Employers are particularly interested in your criminal record before they offer you a job. In fact, criminal background checks are the cornerstone of most employment-related background checks. Employers want to know if potential employees have any “skeletons” in their closet. Most employers are concerned about violent offenses, sex crimes, embezzlement, or fraud. They want to know if you have been convicted for crimes or arrested before and reasons behind such arrests.
If you have been convicted for any crimes including, minor crimes like misdemeanor drug possession petty theft, you should disclose such information in your application if there is a question about your criminal history. Most employers overlook criminal histories as long as applicants are honest about their past.
Important: It’s not advisable to assume you don’t have a criminal history. Errors occur when criminal reports are being filed at different courthouses. Identity theft, which is a serious problem today, can also result in a surprising criminal history showing up. To avoid such instances, it’s advisable to run a criminal background check beforehand just to ensure all entries are accurate. If there are any mistakes or irregularities, you should have them fixed by a background check company or the courthouse in question.
Inconsistencies in job applications and resumes
Employers also run background checks to look for inconsistencies in employment history and education. Employers can’t rely on all applicants to give 100% accurate information in their applications or resumes. To ensure job applicants are accurate and honest, employers carry out background and reference checks that may include calling previous employers and schools. Most employers will go through the trouble of verifying information in
job applications and resumes since it is crucial for determining whether an applicant is fit for the job.
Employers are also interested in the credit history of prospective employees since it gives a deep insight into character and responsibility. Some careers, especially those in finance, demand good credit practices. If you are applying for a job to manage other people’s money, employers will want you to have a good credit history.
Like credit history, a person’s driving records can have some insights into their character and responsibility. Although employers rarely ask for driving records when doing background checks, those that do are interested in assessing how responsible you are. For instance, minor tickets are normal; however, license suspensions and multiple DUIs can be an indication that you may be irresponsible and a liability, especially as a driver.
Some employers also want to know if you have been a defendant in a case. Whether it was an eviction, personal injury, nonpayment of debt, destruction of property, among other claims, civil history can provide some clues on a person’s temperament, character, and overall history.
How do background checks work?
Employers want to hire the least-risky candidates i.e., candidates with favorable criminal, civil, and credit histories. Employers go as far as checking the social media accounts of prospective employees just to see if they can find evidence that suggests they aren’t good employees. Some may conduct background checks internally or hire companies to conduct the checks on their behalf. Most of these companies take background checks, further uncovering information unlawfully.
Background checks are supposed to be conducted lawfully in accordance with FCRA guidelines. As mentioned above, background checks must be authorized by the subject. They should also withhold information such as a person’s medical information and refrain from using background check information like race, religion, genetics, age, sex, national origin, etc. to discriminate candidates.  There are protections to ensure background checks aren’t conducted illegally or misused; however, some employers don’t follow the rules. When background checks are conducted “by the book,” they serve the interest of all parties perfectly.
Are background checks accurate?
Information present in background checks can vary in regards to accuracy. There are many cheap consumer services today that yield inaccurate results. Accuracy is, therefore determined by the resource used to come up with the information. As mentioned above, background check errors can also occur because of inaccurate legal reports filed in courts or because of normal court delays. To improve accuracy, you can run your own background check to see if the information you gather is accurate.
How will I know if I passed my background check?
Under FCRA rules, employers are legally obligated to follow some steps before disqualifying a person from a job opportunity because of information acquired from background checks. First and foremost, employers must offer let unsuccessful applicants know they haven’t passed their background check by issuing a formal letter (pre-adverse action letter). They also need to surrender a copy of the background check report and a copy of an applicant’s rights. If the employer is based in California, they must issue a state statement of consumer rights.
You have 3 to 5 business days to dispute and/or resolve negative information contained in your background check report. Pre-adverse action letters must contain, CRA details (name, phone number, and address) so that applicants can get dispute and/resolve negative information fast and easily. If the 3 to 5 days deadline passes without initiating a dispute process, you are no longer considered for employment. An adverse action letter is issued to conclude the process.
What is a level 2 background check?
The FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) defines a level 2 background check as a fingerprint-based background check that applies to employees holding positions of trust or responsibility. A level 2 check is more in-depth and includes fingerprint-based searches spanning national FBI, the FDLE and county criminal records via local courts and law enforcement agencies. 
Requirements for a level 2 background check
State level 2 checks require a name request and a fingerprint card. National Level 2 checks have the following requirements;
Fingerprints of the individual being searched. The individual being searched must also agree to the terms and conditions that have been set by the FBI. Fingerprinting must also be via the state repository initially and not against public policy. Lastly, the information should be received by a government institution, not private entities.
Cost of a level 2 background check
The cost of level 2 checks varies depending on factors such as; who is being searched and who is submitting the search. The cost ranges between $0 and $36. Cost includes State and Federal costs.
Information contained in a level 2 background check
Level 2 checks focus on disqualifying offenses capable of disqualifying a person a position of trust or responsibility. Level 2 background check information looks similar to information in criminal offenses like murder, sexual misconduct, and kidnapping. If you are wondering how far level 2 background checks go, results include state and national criminal history and arrest warrants. The information is removed 6 months after the last check. Typical level 2 checks take 3 business days to be finalized.
Do warrants show up on background checks?
Warrants aren’t part of criminal records; therefore, they won’t show up in background checks. However, they qualify as court records, which can be found when searches on court records are done.
How does a background check verify employment?
Before a job candidate is approved for a position, he/she must go through an interview process. Other factors, such as work experience also play a role. However, before employers make hiring decisions based on an applicant’s work history, they must verify the information provided. Unfortunately, many job applicants provide false information in their CVs. Many applicants lie about their skill set, past and present responsibilities, job titles, date of employment, and academic qualifications to increase their chances of success.  Prospective employers know this, which is why they verify information in CVs and applications using background checks.
There is no single searchable database that contains all the information required to make informed employment decisions. Background checks get information from multiple sources and compile it in one place to allow employers to make informed employment decisions.
Do pending charges show up on a background check?
There are a variety of factors that dictate if pending charges will show up on a background check. It is worth noting that pending charges and warrants may or may not show up depending on the following factors:
- the agency doing the background check,
- the type of check,
- the jurisdiction of the alleged crime(s) and nature of charges , and
- the location of the employer/entity requesting for a background check
Pending charges, arrests, warrants, and convictions are present in criminal background checks, and not every single type of background check out there today. Furthermore, the agency conducting the check must be offering such a service i.e., offering comprehensive background checks for information on pending charges to show up.
The nature of charge also matters. An assault charge isn’t the same as a theft charge. Some jurisdictions in the US don’t report misdemeanor offenses whether pending or convicted. Others states report misdemeanor convictions but not charges or warrants. Some jurisdictions don’t report dropped charges or those that have a “not guilty” verdict. Also, cases determined in civil and criminal courts may not be present at all in background checks.
Pending charges may also “slip through” in checks conducted online if the investigator doesn’t look in certain areas or if there is no online history of a subject living in an area where they face charges. A hit-and-run charge that takes place away from home is a perfect example of such a scenario.
There are also time limitations that may be placed on pending charges. For instance, some states don’t report convictions past a certain number of years. Federal regulations can also determine if pending charges show up or not.
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