How Far Back Do Background Checks Go?

Background checks are an important part of the hiring process - but how far back do they go? Learn more about credit & criminal checks here.

How Far Back Do Background Checks Go?

Background checks are an important part of the hiring process, as they provide employers with valuable information about potential employees. But how far back do these checks go? Generally, background checks cover seven years of criminal and judicial records, though some can go back further. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) outlines the guidelines for conducting credit history checks and determining how far back they can go. In most cases, the evaluation can go back up to seven years, but there are some exceptions.

For example, bankruptcies can be reported up to 10 years ago. Most work history evaluations also go back seven years, though the type of search may cover a different period of time. When conducting a criminal background check, the background check company can report convictions indefinitely or restrict it to seven years, depending on where the candidate is located. As for employment history, information can often be verified throughout the candidate's life, although many organizations limit the search to a certain number of employers or years. In most states, criminal background checks for employment can go back seven or ten years.

Some states allow unlimited submission of conviction records and pre-employment background checks can go back as far as you want. It's important to remember that when performing background checks, they must be relevant to the position. The FCRA is a federal law that dictates how consumer data can be used and shared. When it comes to credit checks for employment, the FCRA limits “retroactivity” periods for most types of consumer information to seven years. Once again, the time period may vary.

Seven years is the most common retrospective period for employment-related criminal checks in all jurisdictions. Some states allow employers to look back an entire decade, while others have no time limits. However, these laws may have subtle variations. For example, the retrospective period may change depending on whether a person has only been found guilty and sentenced or has already served their prison sentence. The age of background checks may vary depending on the type of check, its purpose, and applicable laws. For example, it may not be valid to do a background check on a prospective employee's driving history if the job has nothing to do with driving.

The sources of information accessed during a background check may vary depending on the type of verification and the federal and state laws and regulations governing the use of such information. Fingerprint background checks involve using a candidate's fingerprints along with other personal information to locate historical information received by the FBI from states and municipalities. Selecting a background check that meets the requirements of the FCRA helps ensure that the check has been performed and collected correctly and provides legally reportable results with respect to the retrospective period. Within employee background checks, “third-party background checks” refers to an employer hiring an outside company for a criminal background check. This process investigates a person's criminal record to determine if they have a history of arrest or conviction. Because these rules can get complicated, it's best to use a reputable employment background check provider that manages these complexities for you. Background checks are vital for employers, landlords, and others to make informed decisions about potential hires, tenants, or individuals.

An employer can conduct criminal background checks to determine if a potential employee has been involved or has been convicted of criminal activity in the past. Prospective employer credit checks refer to the practice of verifying an individual's credit report as part of the hiring process. The time it takes to complete a background check may vary depending on the type of verification being performed and the company or agency performing the verification. Background check companies can report felony criminal convictions indefinitely by providing background checks for jobs of all types and pay levels.