What Are Background Checks Used For?

Background checks are more commonly used in many settings to verify a person’s identity and that any information provided to an organization requiring the information is accurate and complete. There are multiple uses for a background check in different settings or for different purposes. This article discusses when background checks are generally required and how the information is used.

Employment Background Checks

Most individuals who undergo a background check do it because a potential employer requires it, but as a condition of employment, they must pass a background check. The employer uses the information from this background check to verify that the person is eligible for employment, has the right credentials or education for the position, and may be a good fit for the culture of the organization. This type of background check commonly includes looking at one’s criminal history, job history, professional references, education, and certification and provides verification of one’s social security number.

While these are usually the elements included in an employment-related background check, the specific requirements may vary depending on the company or position. For example, background checks for jobs that include interaction with vulnerable populations often have a more intensive criminal background check. Similarly, jobs that require driving or working in the finance industry may consist of evaluating one’s driving record or credit history as part of the background check. Employment background checks can be tailored to provide the employer with all of the legally accessible information that may be relevant to the position or industry.

Pre-employment background checks are prevalent with the majority of employers in the United States, and many employers are beginning to use periodic background checks on existing employees to verify that nothing has changed. These types of checks may be specific to one aspect of an employee’s background, such as their criminal record.

Criminal Background Checks

Criminal background checks are commonly a part of a pre-employment background check, but they can be conducted for many other purposes. This type of background check provides information related to one’s criminal records for relevant purposes. Volunteering or working for organizations that work with youth can also require a background check. It can also be used as part of tenant screening to verify that a potential tenant won’t threaten other residents.

Criminal background checks are often the most complicated because they look at a variety of county, state, and federal records that contain some or all of the following types of information:

  • Arrests
  • Convictions (felonies and misdemeanors)
  • Sex Offenses
  • Incarceration Data
  • Court Records

In addition to the breadth of information included in criminal background checks, legal restrictions can often apply to the data. For instance, some states prohibit looking further than seven years back in one’s history unless they fall into certain categorical exclusions.

Tenancy Background Checks

Many landlords also require potential residents to pass a background check before executing a lease agreement. Tenant screenings commonly examine one’s criminal history, financial records or credit reports, and references or previous landlords. They collect this information to verify that the potential tenant is responsible, increasing the likelihood that they will pay their rent in full, on time, and be respectful of other residents.

Weapons Background Checks

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act is a federal law that requires that anyone purchasing a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee must undergo a background check. Federal Firearms Licensees range from small retailers to large outlets like Walmart. The law is designed to prohibit certain individuals, such as fugitives, those recently convicted of a violent crime, substance abusers, and domestic violence perpetrators, from obtaining a firearm. The information used from these background checks is used to verify that anyone purchasing a gun does not fall into any of the high-risk groups outlined in the Act.

Child/Elder Care Background Checks

Some vulnerable populations are at a high risk of becoming victimized or abused. These include children and the elderly. To obtain positions in these industries, an individual must also undergo more extensive background checks that specifically look for data about individuals and vulnerable populations. This data comes from:

  • State and federal criminal databases
  • State and federal fingerprint records
  • Child abuse and neglect lists
  • State and federal sex offender lists

The data is screened with the end goal of offering greater protection to vulnerable populations.

As you can see, background checks are used for many purposes, and as identity theft and cybercrimes grow, they will likely become increasingly popular for more use in the future. For more information about background checks, contact USA Fact today!

USAFact Global Screening Services provides comprehensive background and criminal checks for employers that comply with federal and local laws. By helping you eliminate high-risk applicants through tailored solutions, USAFact enables you to create a safe and productive work environment and a foundation for future success.