5 Frequently Asked Background Check Questions and Answers

November 2 2020
5 min read

For over 30 years, Orange Tree has been helping employers bring on their employees quickly and safely. In that time, we have received plenty of questions about background checks from clients and candidates.

Our previous blog post addressed the factors that impact how much background screen costs.

In this post, we answer five commonly asked questions about criminal background checks.

1. How long do do background checks take?

Depending on the scope and type of background check requested, the average background check takes between one and five business days. Some searches are readily available and can take just hours, in other cases a special form or process may be required, or the background screening company may be relying on 3rd parties (like employers and government entities) to make a manual search of their records which can extend the turnaround time.

2. How Far Back Do Background Checks Go?

How far back background check go depends on several factors, such as your company policy, state reporting limitations where the candidate works or where the employer is located, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Most criminal background checks have a look back period of seven years.

The FCRA prohibits Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) like Orange Tree from reporting the following:

  • Civil suits, civil judgments, and arrest records that antedate the report by more than seven years.
  • Other criminal records that resulted in a conviction, any adverse information that predates the report by more than seven years.

Some states have different reporting limitations than the FCRA, for instance they may limit reporting of convictions to seven years, limit reporting depending on the level of the offense, prohibit reporting of non-convictions, or limit reporting based on the expected salary of the new hire.

3. What are the differences between state and county background checks?

A county criminal check includes a search for misdemeanor and felony records at the county courthouse. These checks will locate records specific to the county searched only. Since adjudication of state criminal records occur at the county court level, they have the most up to date information. They are a great place to start when creating a background screening package.

Methods of access to county criminal records vary throughout the 3,200+ counties across the United States. Many counties have digital access via a website or court integration. In contrast, others require court runners to be onsite at the courthouse to obtain case information. Still, other courts require that county court clerks manually search cases.

A statewide criminal check is a search for misdemeanor and felony records throughout a specific state court or police database. Statewide criminal checks can help identify additional records found outside of the counties that a candidate has lived.

Sources used for statewide criminal check searches are often the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and State or Law Enforcement Agency Repositories. The number of counties included in the statewide criminal search varies by state; some states require counties to report in their records, while others do not. Several states do not have a name-based statewide criminal check available to the public, while others are available only by fingerprint search.

4. Why shouldn't employers do the same background checks for all positions?

There is not a one-size-fits-all background check. Employers should be thinking about how the information they want to uncover/confirm in the background check is related to the applicant's job duties. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to consider the job relatedness and business necessity of criminal records for candidates they are considering for their position when selecting background checks.

When building a background check package, it's essential to identify all the positions in your company and think about what checks will help your company make the best hiring decision.

Companies looking to create a basic background check package can start with a County Criminal Check, National Criminal Record Search, and National Sex Offender Registry search. Then to build a more comprehensive background check package, consider adding additional service that take into consideration the duties and responsibilities of the position, for instance adding a Driving Record Check for driving positions, an Abuse Registry Checks for positions working with vulnerable populations, or verification of a claimed degree, employment history, or professional license for positions where an education credential, particular work experience, or a professional license are a requirement of the job.

Many industries, such as transportation, healthcare, and financial services, have special regulatory or statutory requirements on what background check services must be run to remain compliant. If you have employees in regulated industries, it's vital to choose a background check provider that can help you complete the proper services.

5. How do you deal with applicant background check disputes? 

When a candidate contacts Orange Tree to dispute information in their consumer report, we have a trained and knowledgeable team available to assist them with this process.

We take the following steps in the event of a candidate dispute:

  1. Start the Dispute: To initiate the dispute process, we will work with the candidate to identify the item is being disputed. We will also ask the candidate if they have any supporting documentation to confirm what is being disputed or expedite the process. Such documentation helpful, but is not required in order for us to initiate the reinvestigation.
    • Note – If the Candidate indicates the report is correct, but they want information as to why they were not hired or the status of the hiring decision, Orange Tree will advise them that we do not make the hiring decision and direct them to the client directly for that information.
    • We will notify the Client for whom the report was prepared that the Candidate has started a dispute.
  2. Reinvestigate: As outlined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we will conduct a reinvestigation of the disputed information, free of charge.
    • Information that is found to be inaccurate or incomplete as a result of the reinvestigation is then updated or deleted from the report.
  3. Complete the Dispute: We will document the results of the reinvestigation in a letter to the Candidate.
    • The letter would include a copy of the report, if results were changed due to the reinvestigation, and any other information required by the FCRA.
    • We will notify the Client that the dispute process is complete and the results of the reinvestigation.

Orange Tree delivers fast, easy, and accurate background checks. Background checks play a crucial role during the screening process. As an employer, you need to consider a candidate's criminal history.

With over 30 years of experience, our team at Orange Tree understands the legal and financial implications of employers' hiring practices. We are committed to working with employers to design and implement a comprehensive screening program that fits their business needs. Our team can assist you every step of the way to prevent negligent hiring lawsuits.

Want to learn more about how our team can be of service to your organization? Schedule a call today.

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