What Shows Up on A Background Check?

#Employee #background checks #new hire #hiring #employment verification process
by Ali Gordon

Did you know over 1,000,000 different types of background searches are run every year? With so many kinds of background checks, how do you know what kind of screening is right for you to use? Understanding what shows up on different background checks can help you narrow it down. These are some different types of background checks and what information may appear on them.

Criminal History

A criminal history check is one of the most common types of background screenings, but even this can vary in depth and content. Criminal history screenings may look for these things:

  • Felony convictions 
  • Misdemeanors
  • Pending criminal cases
  • Incarceration history
  • Arrest records
  • Prohibited parties records (terrorism, narcotics, illegal trade lists, etc.)

Depending on the job and clearance required, the goal could be to check sexual offender registries, unlawful drug use, or employee theft cases, for example. Criminal history checks can also be limited to screening in the region where a prospective hire lives and works--such as country clerk records--or it could be as deep as nationwide FBI checks or international criminal record screenings. 

Credit and Address History

Employers can use credit and address history as long as the screenings are in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Non-compliance is risky and can result in expensive litigation. When in compliance, credit checks are meant to be used by employers to gain a sense of an individual’s identity and trustworthiness. Although credit scores and birth dates will not show up on this kind of background check, there are other details that could appear, including:

  • Social security number
  • Names (past and current)
  • Payment history (on-time and late)
  • Open credit lines or accounts 
  • Accounts in collections
  • Address history (past and current)
  • Incurred debt (mortgage, student loans, etc.)
  • Bankruptcy filings


This information might be used in a variety of ways: to help an employer understand if an individual is prone to relocating, if they have eviction or debt history that could possibly indicate an inability to manage money, or to simply confirm identity and past employment history. A credit check is not the only way to confirm some of these 

Reference, Licensure, and Skills Confirmation

Screening for a job is about so much more than trying to dig up something in a candidate’s past. While it can be useful to determine if past history precludes a candidate from hire, it’s also helpful to confirm their qualifications to gain confidence in a hiring choice. Some background checks may explore past history that affirms:

  • Prior occupational and professional licenses
  • Driving history (licenses, suspensions, violations, accidents, etc.)
  • Skills confirmation 
  • Reference or past employer satisfaction 
  • Education, certifications, or academic credential history





Identity Confirmation

Identity checks can overlap with other types of background checks, such as criminal records. This check most often uses fingerprinting in conjunction with FBI, terror watchlists, or police records. Like a criminal history check, a fingerprint background check may have varying levels of depth or additional steps to meet clearance requirements, depending on the role. It can also be used simply to confirm identity with other information that appears--such as insurance, name, or address information.  As with all types of background checks, compliance with local and federal privacy or use laws is essential.   

These are just a few things that can show up on background checks. It’s important to remember that there is not a one-size-fits-all method to interpreting different background checks, and histories like criminal records, debt, or eviction history should not necessarily disqualify a candidate. eKnowID helps businesses run the right background check when hiring for various roles--and determine the best way to interpret those findings for hiring success.

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