A national criminal background check is an important tool for employers to verify the criminal history of job candidates. These checks help employers hire suitable individuals for the job and pose no risk to their colleagues or customers.
This article discusses what a national criminal background check is, why you should do one, and what the limitations are. Furthermore, it discusses the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements for conducting national criminal background checks and provides tips for finding background screening companies.
What is a National Criminal Background Check?
A national criminal background check for employment is a comprehensive review of an individual’s criminal history before applying for a job position. It includes a search of national databases and records, such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which is maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). These databases contain records of arrests, charges, and convictions at the federal, state, and local levels.
National criminal background checks may also include searches of court records, sex offender registries, and terrorism watch lists. Some employers may also request a search of records related to financial crimes, such as fraud or embezzlement.
Why should you do a National Criminal Background Check?
It would be best if you considered conducting a national criminal background check as part of your hiring process for several reasons.
First and foremost, national criminal background checks can help ensure the safety and security of your workplace.
By verifying the criminal history of job candidates, you can make informed decisions about who you hire and reduce the risk of potential incidents or wrongdoing. This is especially important for positions that handle sensitive information, work with vulnerable populations, or operate heavy machinery.
National criminal background checks can also protect your business from legal liability. For example, if an employee with a criminal record engages in illegal activity on the job, your business could be held responsible. By conducting a national criminal background check, you can take steps to mitigate this risk.
Finally, national criminal background checks can provide peace of mind for you and your employees. Hiring individuals with a clean criminal record can create a safer and more positive work environment for everyone.
What are the limitations of a National Criminal Background check?
It’s essential to remember that national criminal background checks have limitations. First and foremost, these checks only include information that is reported to national databases and records. For example, if an individual has not been arrested or convicted of a crime, this information may not be included in a national criminal background check.
Additionally, national criminal background checks may not include information about expunged or sealed records. Expungement is destroying or sealing criminal records so they are not available to the public. This means that if an individual has a criminal history, the information regarding it has been skipped in a national criminal background check if it has been erased.
Finally, national criminal background checks may not be entirely accurate. There is always the risk of human error or incorrect reporting, which can lead to false positives or negatives. Therefore, verifying any information obtained through a national criminal background check and considering other factors is important.
What is the FCRA requirement for a National Criminal Background check?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law regulating consumer credit reports and other background information for employment purposes. If you plan to conduct a national criminal background check as part of your hiring process, you must follow the requirements set forth by the FCRA.
Under the FCRA, you must obtain written consent from the job candidate before conducting a background check. This consent must be in writing and obtained separately from any other employment documents. You must also provide the job candidate with a clear and conspicuous disclosure that a background check will be conducted.
Once the background check has been completed, you must provide the job candidate with a copy of their report. If the report contains any negative information, you must also provide the job candidate with a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” explaining their rights under the FCRA.
If the background check reveals any negative information that you plan to use as a basis for denying employment, you must give the job candidate a “pre-adverse action notice.” This notice must include a copy of the background check report, “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” and a statement explaining the candidate’s right to dispute the report’s accuracy.
After receiving the pre-adverse action notice, the job candidate has the right to dispute the report’s accuracy. If the dispute is not resolved to the candidate’s satisfaction, they have the right to request a “reinvestigation” of the disputed information. If reinvestigation isn’t the solution, the job candidate has the right to include a statement explaining their side of the story in their report.
Ready to get started with criminal background checks?
If you’re ready to start conducting national criminal background checks as part of your employee hiring process, you can take a few steps.
First, decide what information you want to include in your background check. This may include searching national databases and records, court records, sex offender registries, and terrorism watch lists. You may also want to consider financial crimes, such as fraud or embezzlement.
Next, find a reputable background screening company. There are many top background screening companies, such as Peopletrails and a few others. So research and find one that fits your needs. Consider costs, turnaround time, and the checks they offer.
Once you’ve found a background screening company, follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements. This includes obtaining written consent from job candidates, providing them with a copy of their background check report, and allowing them to dispute any incorrect information.
Conducting a national criminal background check is an important tool for ensuring the safety and security of your workplace. It can help protect your business from legal liability and create a safer work environment for your employees.
While there are limitations to these checks, such as the risk of human error and the possibility of expunged or sealed records, they can still provide valuable information when making hiring decisions. By following the FCRA requirements and choosing a reputable background screening company, you can confidently conduct national criminal background checks as part of your hiring process.