What does a background check show?

June 4 2021
5 min read

Background checks are essential to any company, and they're much more than criminal history searches. A background check can also provide information and verification of employment, education, MVR, and professional licenses. The amount and type of information that a background check offers depend on the type and scope of the search.

What does a background check consist of?

When most people think about background checks, criminal record checks are what comes to mind. But many different kinds of checks go beyond checking an applicant's criminal history.

This post will go over what the background checks below show:

What is a criminal background check? 

A criminal background check provides information about an individual's criminal history. Employers use criminal background checks as part of a comprehensive screening process on potential hires and existing employees. These records help the employer assess the possible risk an individual might pose in their workplace.

 What does a criminal background check show?

The information that shows up on a criminal background check can include felony and misdemeanor court records, including deferred, pending, failure to appear, and warrant information as allowed by the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA).

In most U.S. states, crimes are divided into two broad categories: misdemeanors and felonies. The most significant difference between the two is the maximum punishment. 

Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by fines and/or county jail time for less than a year. Some examples of misdemeanor crimes:

  • Shoplifting
  • Simple assault 

Felonies are series of offenses that carry a penalty of incarceration from one year to a life sentence in state prison. It also includes the death penalty. Some examples of felony crimes:

  • Murder
  • Rape

To learn more about the most common types of criminal background checks, read our blog here.

What are verification checks?

Criminal history searches are just one piece of a thorough background check process. It won't provide any information about an applicant's past employment and education history. These details must instead be checked using verification checks. A few other verifications are available, including employment history, education, professional licensing, reference checks, credit history, and driving history checks (MVR).

What shows up on employment verifications?

Employment verifications confirm the work history provided on your applicants' résumés. This process verifies past and current employers and may also include employment dates and positions held. Employment verifications can help employers quickly identify applicants with discrepancies in their résumé or work experience, such as employment gaps. 

Related: What is Employment Verification? Everything You Need to Know

What shows up on education verifications?

The education verifications provide confirmation of the claimed degree, diploma (or GED) or certificate obtained or attended, as reported by the candidate. In addition, attendance dates, graduation date and major (or field of study) may be verified. 

Related: What Is Education Verification and Why Is It Important?

What shows up on professional license verifications?

Professional verifications provide employers with validation of a candidate's licensure, certification, and other credentials. Professional licenses are generally state or national issued documents that show the individual is legally authorized to work in certain professions. 

What shows up on professional references?

Before making an employment decision, you may want to gather perspective from another party who has had professional experience with the candidate (e.g. former boss, colleague, etc.) via reference check. This information provides insight as to the candidate’s track record of performance and capabilities.

What shows up on a consumer credit report?

A Consumer Credit Report is an "Employment" credit report from one of the major credit bureaus. Consumer credit reports provide information about a candidate's financial history. They may reveal indicators of finical irresponsibility that could affect your organization. It is recommended for any candidates handling cash or accounts payable/receivable to have access to company credit card information or client credit card information.

The report may include information on the following: current/past trade accounts, current/past lines of credit, bankruptcy, accounts in collection, payment history, addresses and names associated with the consumer, other inquiries into the credit history, limited information about the consumer's employment history.

As required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, an "Employment" credit report does not include a credit score.

What shows on a driving history check?

The Driving History background check (MVR) provides validation of the driver's license number provided by the candidate as driving history in the state of issue. Information varies state by state but generally includes violations in the last three years and confirmation of the name on the license, issue date, expiration date, and a class of license.

To ensure a background check complies with federal and local regulations, work with an FCRA-compliant provider. Orange Tree is one of the leading providers in this space because we are committed to the highest standards for all our clients.

Contact us today if you need more information about how we can help your business comply with screenings requirements and stay compliant moving forward. We offer both standard and customized packages that will meet your needs.