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How Far Does Back Background Checks Go?

#Employee #background checks #hiring #Business Solutions
by Jessica Elliott


Are there limits to what you can find out from pre-employment screenings? For example, how far back do background checks go, and do investigations use different periods? Although some screenings, like criminal records, last a lifetime, others only go back seven years. 

Explore industry norms and what to expect with your screenings by learning about timeframes of background checks and how to leverage historical data to hire the best employees

Results Depend on How Far Back Background Checks Go

When completing a background check, you’ll notice some variance in the length of time the screening looks at. How far back screenings go depends on the type of review and the state your applicant works or lives. For employers who attempt to access this information yourself, it’s vital to read through individual state compliance laws. However, a credible background check service provider ensures you receive information that follows the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) guidelines. 

Employment Background Checks: Variances by Type

When it comes to pre-employment screenings, you’ll typically get back information from the last seven to 10 years. Let’s look at a few popular background checks and how far back they go: 

  • Criminal background checks
    These screenings look at felonies and misdemeanors, both convictions and charges. The FCRA doesn’t set a time limit on how far these records go back, but states may set limits.
  • Driving records

    Typically, motor vehicle records (MVR) go back three years, but this also depends on state-specific guidelines.

  • Employment history
    You can go back through a lifetime of job records to verify employment. It may increase the time it takes to complete the process if you’re going back over 10 years. 
  • Credit history

    Most credit data, like tax liens or civil judgments, fall off credit records after seven years. Bankruptcies show up for 10 years. State rules may vary for credit history lengths. 

  • Educational and certification records

    There is no time-limit on verifying degrees or certificates from various educational programs. 

  • Sex offender registries

    While misdemeanor sex crimes may fall off records after 10 - 15 years, many states set limits based on the severity or tiers of crime. 

Pre-Employment Screening Differences by State

Although the FCRA doesn’t limit criminal histories, states provide various limits that may affect how far back online background checks go. For example, states like California or Maryland only allow for seven years of history since the release date from prison or the end of parole.

However, these states also allow for lengthier histories for job positions with higher salary ranges. Colorado lets you go back extra years for employees who will earn over $75,000, and California allows up to 10 years of records for those making over $125,000. 

Of course, many states, such as Mississippi, New Jersey, and Ohio, report not guilty verdicts and felony convictions forever. For sex crimes, states like South Dakota keep tier one offenders on the list for 10 years while New York removes them after 20 years. 

Best Screening Practices for Hiring Managers

While a federal criminal record check shows any federal crimes, it’s vital to complete additional searches at the county and statewide level to avoid red flags of hiring. To ensure compliance within your industry, state guidelines, and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, use a credible background screening service that demonstrates knowledge in both your industry and state-specific laws. 

Get Accurate Results With Your Background Check

Make sure you get a complete history of your job applicants by selecting the right combination of screening services and use a reputable provider who is FCRA-compliant. Doing so helps you avoid potential problems with your hiring process and employee selection process. Learn how to solve your pre-employment issues by partnering with eKnowID.

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