How Do Background Checks Work?

Many job offers are contingent upon passing a background check. These forms of background screening often include some combination of employment history, screening for criminal history, financial records, and even activity on social networks. Companies and potential employees have certain rights and responsibilities that must be considered in this regard.

This article will discuss the elements of an employment background check, why and how background checks are used, and the limits on them.

Mitigating risk

When conducting hiring activities, recruiters are obliged to exercise risk mitigation. Companies will take any measures they can to minimize the risk of a bad hire. Criminal history, credit history, and social media checks can reveal red flags before making a job candidate an offer. 

Prevention is the best protection

Many applicants are aware that they’ll be asked to undergo a background check and begin to worry. What will the results be? As always, prevention is the best protection. You can do a free people search using a people finder – enter your personal information to see what comes up. If false or outdated information appears, take immediate steps to remove or correct it. 

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Criminal history screening

This could be the most important element of a background check. Most background screening companies provide regional and local searches. In some areas, they send an employee down to the local county courthouse to ask for the subject’s records.

State and county-level checks tend to be more affordable than federal ones, but they might not detect a crime committed in another district or state.

Credit checks

Financial records are a crucial source of details about the candidate’s financial history and personal finance management. A screening can reveal liens, bankruptcies, credit history, payment history, and outstanding debt. It can show how likely someone is to be trusted with money. A landlord can look at credit records to see if a prospective tenant will be able to pay their rent on time or at all.

Credit checks are done based on the assumption that someone who’s not good at financial management may lack the judgment and responsibility to succeed in a job, especially if they will be required to handle funds. Some jobs call for discretion or access to sensitive data, and companies want to protect themselves from job candidates with a history of fiscal irresponsibility. Their goal is to reduce risk, not pass moral judgment.

Bankruptcy screening

A bankruptcy screening will make a slew of information available, including the debtor’s address and SSN, the county, the trial attorney, the docket number, the type of bankruptcy filed, and the state where it was filed. It might also show judgments, civil filings, the type of tax lien, the amount of the assets, and the release and dismissal dates. 

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Credit reports

Credit reports can be part of the screening process. Credit bureaus issue them based on information from credit card firms, banks, and other sources. Credit reports usually contain previous inquiries, which show that retailers, lenders, or other financial institutions have requested the person’s credit report. The credit bureau will provide the subject’s name, birthdate, and other identifying information.

Social media

Social network activity is an easy source of personal data. What’s more, few regulations exist to govern the use of social media information in the context of employment. If a prospective employer observes social media activity that indicates recklessness, such as texting and driving, it will leave a poor impression of the candidate.

Before looking for work, candidates should adjust their privacy settings or delete potentially objectionable images or text.

Limitations on Background Checks

A company may not conduct screening without a candidate’s written permission. Most candidates will agree to one. If the employer rejects the candidate based on any element of a background check, they must give them a copy of the background check. The candidate has the right to correct inaccurate or outdated information. Adverse life events like bankruptcy and divorce can wreak havoc if the data isn’t current. For example, the activity of a former spouse can damage credit scores. Background check providers usually aren’t allowed to disclose medical information.