Will Background Checks During the COVID-19 Pandemic Be Delayed?

By Michael Klazema on 6/9/2020

Since March, much of the economy has been at a standstill due to stay-at-home orders and other quarantine protections intended to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. Now, the economy is starting to reopen, and states are beginning the tentative process of returning to normal. According to this New York Times map, all states are either in the process of reopening, reopening regionally, or planning reopening strategies for the near future—no states remain entirely shut down.

For businesses, this return to normal means a return to work, which will also mean bringing back laid-off workers or hiring new talent. If your business is in hiring mode right now, you might be wondering: could COVID-19 cause delays to the employee background check process?

Just a few weeks ago, the answer was yes. The novel coronavirus pandemic not only closed businesses but also county courthouses, DMVs, colleges and universities, and other offices that background check companies rely on for information. At, we maintain “court runners” in many communities that we rely on to visit county courthouses and carry out in-person steps for county criminal history checks, such as filling out paperwork or entering searches at on-premise court terminals.

Many county courthouses have digitized their public records and rendered them searchable through online systems. These systems remained accessible throughout the pandemic, but on-premise searches were largely impossible, leading to delays in some county criminal history checks.

Other background screenings were delayed as well. DMV closures made it difficult to pull candidate driving histories. Colleges and universities that closed offices or furloughed employees created challenges for verifying education history. The huge number of temporarily-closed businesses led to struggles with verifying employment history.

As the country reopens, these delays will shrink, but not all vetting challenges will stop. For instance, studies show that about half of all small businesses are at risk of failing due to the economic challenges posed by COVID-19. As businesses go under, employment history verifications could become more difficult. Verifying a job that a candidate held with a company that went out of business in the wake of COVID-19 could be difficult or impossible. However, other checks—particularly criminal history screenings and driving history checks—will only become easier as courts and DMVs reopen.

If COVID-19 delays exist for your business’s background check process, consider using our US OneSEARCH screening. US OneSEARCH is a proprietary, multijurisdictional database of criminal records, sex offender registry information, terrorism watch list details, and more spanning more than 650 million criminal records from throughout the United States and its territories. Background checks through the US OneSEARCH database process instantly and have not been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.



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