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Which Sources Do Employers Use for Employee Background Checks? Keywords: employee background checks

By Michael Klazema on 5/14/2020

When an employer conducts employee background checks, which sources do they use to collect accurate, up-to-date information? While some job seekers picture hiring managers conducting background checks via Google, most employment background checks occur through more official sources. Most employers will hire a background check vendor—such as backgroundchecks.com—to conduct employee background checks on their behalf, so the sources that employers use for background checks are the sources that the background check vendor uses.

The specific sources that a background check company consults for background check data will depend on the type of background report that an employer orders. There is no central hub of criminal history information, which means that employers need to make decisions about which types of criminal background check reports they want. Every kind of criminal history check will have a different data source.

county criminal history check, for instance, is a search of criminal records at a single county courthouse. A state-level criminal background check is a search of a state repository, which county courts throughout the state report into semi-regularly. A federal criminal check is a search of U.S. District Court indices in local areas—very similar to a county criminal history search, but for federally-prosecuted rather than locally-prosecuted crimes.

Some background check companies maintain proprietary databases of criminal history. At backgroundchecks.com, our US OneSEARCH service is a check of our in-house multi-jurisdictional background check database, which contains more than 650 million criminal records from all across the country, as well as sex offender registries and international terrorism sources.

Non-criminal employee background checks have different sources. For instance:

  • Address histories and alias checks—often used to improve the accuracy and reach of criminal history checks—find details associated with a candidate’s Social Security Number.
  • Driving record checks are searches of Department of Motor Vehicle records in each state to find anything from speeding tickets to accidents to revoked licenses.
  • Civil court record checks can search for lawsuits and other civil court matters on either a county or federal (U.S. District Court) level.
  • Credit history checks are conducted through credit reporting bureaus.
  • Bankruptcy reports search for any bankruptcy records that the job candidate has filed in any U.S. bankruptcy court.
  • Verification checks involve contacting primary sources—including past employerscolleges or universitieslicensing bodies, and professional references—to verify information that the candidate has listed on his or her resume or job application.

Occasionally, employers will complete some of these steps themselves, such as contacting previous employers to verify job titles, dates of employment, and other pertinent information. Employers may also perform some extra “research” on candidates using social media platforms such as Facebook. These types of checks are generally not advisable since social media profiles can be inaccurate or outdated, giving false positives (when employers find a profile for the wrong person), or revealing information that employers aren’t allowed to consider as part of their hiring decisions (such as sexual orientation or religious affiliation).

At backgroundchecks.com, we make it easy for employers to access a wide range of reliable and up-to-date data from reputable primary sources. Contact us today to design employee background checks that make sense for your business.


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