How Far Back Do Pre-Employment Background Checks Go?

Most employers conduct background checks on job applicants as part of the hiring process. A background check can uncover important information such as criminal convictions and can allow an employer to verify an applicant’s education and previous employment. Some employers also check candidates’ credit if they would be working in positions that involve handling money.

Fair Credit Reporting Act Guidelines

Records on individuals can stretch back many years, or even decades. Some information may not be included in a background check if it is more than a specific number of years old. State laws vary, but the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act sets some general guidelines.

The FCRA sets time limits on certain types of information that may be collected as part of a background check. Bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old, tax liens that were paid more than seven years ago, accounts that were sent to a collections agency more than seven years ago, civil suits and civil judgments that are more than seven years old, arrest records that are more than seven years old, and any other adverse actions, except criminal convictions, that are more than seven years old may not be reported to employers. These time limits do not apply to candidates for positions that pay $75,000 or more per year.

Reporting of Criminal Convictions Varies by Location

The FCRA does not set a time limit on the reporting of criminal convictions, but some state laws do. Different counties have different policies on how long they keep records of criminal convictions. Felony records are usually kept for a long time, while records of misdemeanors may be purged sooner.

Records of Past Employment and Education

Employers vary in terms of how long they keep records on past employees. A verification of past employment could turn up records related to employment that was recent or decades old.

Education verification is a credential check. Most colleges and universities keep records indefinitely, so employers can check a candidate’s education regardless of when the degree was earned.

Verifications of Current Status

Some parts of a background check are checks of current status. A Social Security number verification checks to make sure the Social Security number provided is currently registered to the applicant in question. A credit check looks into the current state of a person’s finances, and a license verification checks to make sure an applicant currently holds a valid license.

Contact DataCheck for Help with Pre-Employment Background Checks

If you are planning to hire a new employee, you should conduct a background check to verify an applicant’s education and work history and check for criminal convictions before extending an offer of employment. DataCheck has helped employers all over the United States conduct thorough background checks so they could make the right hiring decisions. We will work to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and all other relevant state and local laws. Contact DataCheck today to get started.