A Guide for Criminal Background Checks for Pre-Employment


Before an applicant gets a job offer, there is a big chance that the prospective employer will check out the applicant’s past. To help calm their nerves about these background checks, we listed some common fears against common facts. Finding a job is not that easy – it will take a lot of time, energy, and of course, money.

You look for a position on popular job-hiring sites, apply by sending your resume and Curriculum Vitae, go to a series of interviews, and if you are lucky, you’ll get an offer. But before starting on a new job, applicants have to cross one more challenge: background checks done by the employer.

More or less 95% of all businesses perform some type of checking on their applicants, according to recent studies, by risk-alert companies. It is what companies need to know they are finding out about the possible employee.

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What is background checking for employment?

Companies or employers conduct strict background checks – also known as background screening or pre-employment screening – where they are using their own resources, or they hire third-party check firms, to make sure that the applicant is the best among the rest.

Depending on the criteria set by the employer, these background screening may investigate the candidate’s education attainment, credit history, employment history, license and motor vehicle records, civil records, and even a person’s criminal record.

This process might sound too intense for regular citizens, but the government offers some type of protection when it comes to what kind of information companies can look at during checks. FCRA or the Fair Credit Reporting Act sets national standards for pre-employment screenings. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, companies cannot look at the information listed below when performing pre-employment background checks on their job applicants:

Bankruptcies after ten years

Civil judgement, arrest records and civil lawsuits

Accounts that are placed for collections

Paid tax liens

Other negative information about the applicants, except for criminal convictions

Companies can’t check the information mentioned above if the data are seven years old and above.

Although there are a couple of big red flags, the law only applies to screening performed by a third-party company. In short, firms are exempt from the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s standards if they conduct their pre-employment screenings without the help of a third-party company.

These restrictions also do not apply to jobs that have an annual salary of at least $75,000. Setting aside the limits, applicants might still have other concerns when it comes to what companies can discover about their past. But do not worry, here are some common fears applicants have about criminal background checks and similar processes.

similar processes.

Fear #1: Will speeding tickets show up on background checks?

Fact: Companies can see the applicant’s driving record during checking. But having one or two speeding tickets, as well as car accidents should not hurt the applicant’s chances to get the job unless the job requires the employees to have squeaky-clean driving records or jobs that require applicants to drive a vehicle.

Fear #2: Does it include credit checks?

Fact: While it is not legal in some areas in the country for companies to view the applicant’s credit history, employees are allowed to look into the candidate’s credit history before giving a job offer. But there is a big chance that the candidate’s credit history will not impact whether they will be hired or not. Unless the person is applying for financial positions, where they will have access to the company’s financial instruments (like credit card companies) their credit will not matter to the employer.

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Fear #3: will the worker’s compensation claim show up on these checks?

Fact: The records for workers’ compensation are considered public records in most states in the country. But companies cannot actually check people’s worker’s compensation history until the firm made that person a job offer. A lot of employers will not pull that data. You know why? Because the Americans with Disabilities Act has certain provisions that protect job applicants that make these employers fearful of running worker’s compensation check.

Take control of the job search

There is no such thing as a perfect company, and most, if not all, employees know this. So do not let background checks discourage you from applying for your dream job.