Wondering how far does a criminal background check go? Keep Reading!
Criminal background checks are often an integral part of the hiring process, especially if the hiring company is one of the regulated industries or works to serve the most vulnerable populations, including the elderly and children.
The exact length of the criminal background lookback period is a common concern among job seekers regarding pre-employment vetting.
The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as the position and party in question, the salary they will earn, and the industry regulations at play.
In this article, we will discuss how far back a criminal background check can go into a person’s history and what laws and regulations employers must follow while conducting criminal background checks. Let’s get started!
What is a Criminal Background Check?
Before hiring any candidate, employers conduct criminal background checks to gather the candidate’s criminal record from municipal, state, county, and federal criminal records for any felony criminal convictions, misdemeanor criminal convictions, arrests, pending criminal charges, and active warrants, and infractions.
A comprehensive criminal background check helps employers make a well-informed decision about the candidate and eliminate the risks of bringing someone with a criminal record on board.
How Far Does It Go?
There are no federal limitations on how far back a criminal background check may go, and it is possible to conduct a criminal background check that goes back decades.
However, companies don’t usually look that far back and make a hiring decision based on the crime committed decades ago, especially if the act committed was a low-level misdemeanor.
Typically, criminal background checks cover 7-years of criminal and court records on a candidate but can go far back into a person’s history if the records are accessible and legally reportable.
A few key variables that may affect how far criminal background checks may go include:
- Type of the job
- The population they will serve (financial, public, children)
- The salary they will get
- State, federal, and local laws or other jurisdictions
- Industry regulations
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Regulations Regarding Criminal Background Check
The FCRA has specific guidelines about how far back an employer can look into the criminal background check of an employer.
It generally restricts the Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) from reporting the following details:
- Arrest records, lawsuits, and judgments in Civil court older than 7 years.
- Any collections that are past the 7-year mark
- Bankruptcies older than 10 years
- Tax liens that were paid past the 7-year threshold
- Adverse data besides convictions that exceed the 7-year limit.
Moreover, the employer must obtain proper authorization from the candidate before initiating the background check process.
The authorization form must be in the form of a stand-alone document, separate from the job application, and should not include any employment agreement to force employees to release any claims.
Before taking the final verdict, as a result of a background check, including hiring or firing the employee, the employer will have to provide a copy of the background check or credit report.
We hope you found this article on how far does a Criminal Background Check go useful.
Shefali Jain is a Content Writer & Editor at USWorkforce.org
After completing her graduation in hospitality, Shefali decided to follow her passion and started writing. Shefali has been writing for two years now and contributes to our website as a skilled editor and content writer with strong research skills. Writing product and service reviews, biographies, and book reviews are some of her key areas, among many others in which she specializes. In her time at the organization, she has written and edited content on a range of topics, including employment law, human resources, and business management.