What Is the Difference between Federal and Multi-State Background Checks?

federal and multi-state background checksEmployers who are hiring candidates for open positions often conduct background checks on applicants. One of the most important parts of a background check is a search of criminal records. Several types of background checks can be conducted. One area where people sometimes get confused is on the issue of federal vs. multi-state background checks. They may sound like the same thing, but they are very different.

What Information Is Included in a Federal Background Check?

A federal background check will reveal crimes that were prosecuted at the federal level, such as bank robbery, kidnapping, tax evasion, and counterfeiting. Federal crimes are prosecuted in United States district courts and may be appealed to appellate courts. Records that are searched in a federal background check can come from district or appellate courts.

An employer can check for federal criminal records using PACER, a portal that allows any member of the public to instantly access electronic federal criminal records. Employers can collect any federal records, including bankruptcies, through PACER. Records available on PACER only go back to November 2004. Most information related to a federal crime can be accessed using PACER, but some information, such as a person’s Social Security number and financial information, is removed.

Records of State and County Prosecutions

Most crimes are prosecuted at the state and county level. Records from state, county, and tribal territories will not be included in a federal background check. There is no tool available that allows an employer to conduct a national background check. The FBI maintains the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a database with information on felonies and misdemeanors, but only law enforcement can access it.

Since a national background check is not available to employers, many use a multi-state background check in addition to a federal background check. A multi-state background check includes records from all of the states with online databases. A small number of states do not have their records online, so someone has to go to the courthouse to search the records.

An employer can also conduct a county-level background check on a job applicant. This takes more time because someone has to go to one or more county courthouses to obtain records.

Contact DataCheck for Thorough Pre-Employment Background Checks

Conducting a thorough background check is an important part of the hiring process. DataCheck has helped many employers get information on job applicants’ criminal records that could be considered in hiring decisions. We can search federal, state, and county criminal records to provide complete information on a job applicant’s background. Contact DataCheck to learn more about our background check services.