Level 3 Background Check Is NOT Federal (Sanctions & FACIS Explained)

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Background Checks | May 15, 2024

Level 3 background check demonstrated by four floating levels with a number 3 over the level 3, FACIS background check document in the corner.

Level 3 Background Check
Free level 3 background check includes search of criminal records and official public records.

There are many different types of background checks, and although most people have heard of level 1 and level 2 background checks, there is also a level 3 background check used for certain situations.

Although a level 3 background check can sound a little bit intimidating, it is not a federal check. The confusion stems from the fact that a level 3 check is quite standard in most industries, but there is also the additional distinction for a level 3 background check that pertains to healthcare worker background verifications. And, this check includes searching very specific, federally controlled databases.

This complete guide explains what a standard level 3 check entails, how to run a level 3 background check and the distinction involved in a Fraud Abuse Control Information System (FACIS) level 3 background check.

What Is a Level Three Background Check?

Although it may sound official, it’s important to understand that a level 3 background check isn’t a legal distinction or anything official. Most background check companies divide their services between packages or levels to distinguish the different kinds of background screenings they offer.

One of the main reasons for this is to provide more affordable options and background check packages to businesses, based on their needs.

Many industries that don’t deal with sensitive information may opt to omit certain background checks entirely due to the cost associated with it. There are also no laws for many industries that mandate that they conduct background checks.

Across industry lines, a level 3 background check is generally a slightly more thorough check, but does not include anything out of the ordinary. Individuals who are undergoing a level 3 background check can often expect the following checks to be run.

The above list is not true for every background check company, some may include more or less public records in the search, but in general, the checks being performed are basic criminal history and identity verification checks. More intensive checks are generally not included as part of a level 3 background check, such as credit history, or other executive-level background checks.

Many employment options will not quite reach the need for a level 3 background check and will only require level 1 or 2 checks. This is especially common with entry-level positions or jobs that don’t deal with certain groups or sensitive information.

A basic background investigation service will vary slightly based on the company conducting the check but will often only include identity verification, and address verification in addition to a name-based, local criminal history search. This means that criminal history information from out of state will not show up.

A moderate background investigation service will often include everything mentioned in a level 1 check as well as a national criminal history check and a check of sex offender registries. In this case, criminal history information from all over the county will be included. However, federal criminal history information will often be omitted from this level of search. This is mainly due to the fact that federal criminal history databases cost more to search and are often unnecessary due to the rarity of federal crimes compared to state criminal offenses.

What Is FACIS Level 3 Background Screening?

A FACIS level 3 background check does have more official and specific distinctions. The FACIS (Fraud Abuse Control Information System) is a national database that is specific to healthcare workers in the United States.

Level 3 Background check explained with a graphic showing address verification, social security number check, county and national criminal history check, and federal history check as well as FACIS check.

The database stores records and information regarding disciplinary actions and other similar information against healthcare professionals. The database is intended to allow healthcare professionals to perform more thorough background checks on applicants and allows them to screen applicants for important negative information that would be otherwise absent from a traditional background check.

A FACIS level 3 background check is the most thorough kind of FACIS background check and searches the entire FACIS database including an individual’s record, state records, and federal records.

The search of federal records specifically is one of the most important aspects of the level 3 background check.

Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities rely on both state and federal funding. By searching FACIS when performing background checks on a possible employee, the healthcare facility is able to ensure that that individual is not on the Federal exclusion list.

What’s the Federal Exclusion List?

The Federal Exclusion List is compiled and managed by the Office of Inspector General, which is able to exclude certain individuals and agencies from taxpayer-funded programs for a number of reasons, including fraud.

Hiring an employee that is on the federal exclusion list can be extremely expensive for the healthcare facility. This can result in large legal fees and the possible loss of federal funding.

  • To access the federal exclusion list, visit the OIG website.
  • Download the CSV file.
  • Access the monthly supplements.

This is what makes the FACIS check such a valuable resource to healthcare facilities, even with the high price that facilities have to pay to access it, the potential savings is far greater than the cost.

Since FACIS is updated so frequently, the chances of making a costly hire are significantly reduced.

FACIS also uses other state and Medicaid information to ensure that the potential healthcare worker is not on any potentially harmful exclusion lists.

Just like with background checks for other businesses, FACIS allows healthcare facilities to save thousands of dollars from hiring a person who can cause long-term legal issues.

The main aspect that makes a level 3 background check so effective is the volume of databases that are searched. Rather than simply checking local criminal history information and a few more publicly available databases, as is the case with most background checks, a FACIS level 3 background check also searches other more unique databases.

Many of which are specific to the healthcare industry.

Specific databases that are checked as part of a FACIS Level 3 background check are described below.

OIG (Office of Inspector General)

The OIG (Office of the Inspector General) exclusion database is an essential tool when it comes to ensuring healthcare facilities are not making hires that will result in the loss of funding or hefty fines.

In some situations, the Department of Health and Human Services, which is part of the OIG, may decide to put an individual on the exclusion list. There are a number of reasons that someone can end up on the exclusion list, but fraud is one of the most common reasons.

Essentially, a healthcare worker can end up on the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities for doing something wrongful that makes them unfit to work for a healthcare facility that receives federal funding.

Part of a Level 3 Background check includes a search of this database to ensure that the healthcare facility is not hiring anyone on the exclusion list.

This database is free to search.

Step 1. Visit the OIG page with the free search tool.

Office of Inspector General Exclusion Database screenshot

Anyone can search the OIG exclusion database to check both for individuals and organizations that have been excluded from federal funding.

Step 2. Enter a first and last name. (Users may also search for one or more entities.)

Step 3. Sort results, and if provided, verify the results with a social security number or employer identification number.

Step 4. Download and print results.


The SAM (System for Award Management) is another list that a FACIS level 3 background checks to ensure that government funds are not being awarded to healthcare facilities that employ individuals who are on an exclusion list.

Specifically, the SAM exclusion list is a list of individuals who are excluded from participating in state or federal contracts for criminal reasons. Basically, individuals on the list committed specific crimes that prevented them from working on a government contract.

In addition to this exclusion list, a level 3 background check will include a check of similar databases, such as the SDN (Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List). This list includes people who are ineligible to work on a government contract due to having connections to sanctioned targets.

This can include terrorist organizations, hostile countries or regimes, and similar entities. The main purpose of this list is the interest of national security.

FDA Disbarment

The FDA disbarment list is another important list, especially important for healthcare facilities that deal more with pharmaceuticals. The FDA debarment list is a list the Federal Drug Administration maintains of individuals who are forbidden from working any job in the drug industry.

Although some of the lists being checked include people who have received disciplinary action, the FDA Debarment list will only include individuals who have been tried and convicted of a crime that is related to a drug product.

FDA Disbarments will generally not last more than 5 years unless there are special circumstances.


Another database that is checked as part of a level 3 background check is the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) A check of the DEA database is also important to healthcare facilities that deal with pharmaceuticals.

US Drug Enforcement Administration screenshot

(Image: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration1)

The DEA database will include a variety of different persons but they will all have been convicted of drug-related crimes of some sort. Although many people have a notion that the DEA is only interested in the illegal drug trade, they also deal with pharmaceutical crimes at various levels as well. This includes drug-related crimes committed by those in the healthcare industry.


Tricare is a health benefits system specifically for armed forces members. The benefits also include family members of active duty service members as well as the family members of Medal of Honor recipients, individuals enlisted in the National Guard, and those in the United States Army Reserves.

The Tricare database is searched as part of a level 3 background check in order to identify individuals who’ve committed fraud or abuse against the TRICARE program.


The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is also checked as part of a level 3 background check. This is a slightly more common database to check for industries outside of healthcare. However, it is just as important to uncover non-drug-related crimes for individuals who wish to work in the healthcare industry. Checking this database ensures healthcare facilities are not hiring individuals who have been convicted of federal crimes.

This is especially important for healthcare facilities that deal with vulnerable groups such as children or the elderly, as checking the database can uncover if someone has been convicted of crimes against one of these groups.


The U.S. the Department of Justice is another database that is searched as part of a level 3 background check. Similar to checking the FBI database, checking the DOJ database can uncover important information that is not necessarily directly related to the healthcare industry.

US DOJ Open Data screenshot

Open data provided by the Department of Justice can be used in a level 3 background check.

Information about whether the individuals are on certain lists that bar them from working with protected groups can be found as part of this database. This check can also uncover whether the individual in question was involved or tried for certain crimes that they were not directly involved in.

U.S. Treasury Department

The U.S. Treasury Department has several databases that are important to check when performing a healthcare industry-related background check. For example, both the SAM and the SDN are performed by the U.S. Treasury Department. A level 3 background check will check all of the databases that are managed by the U.S. Treasury Department.

U.S. State Department

The U.S. State Department databases that are checked as part of a level 3 background check are very similar to those operated by the U.S. Treasury Department. Mainly any database that contains information on persons who have been sanctioned under various government statutes.

US State Department screenshot

The State Department also contains databases that can be searched to complete a level 3 check.

What Are Level 3 Background Check Disqualifying Offenses?

There are no specific disqualifying offenses that are uncovered by a level 3 background check. Each offense will be considered by the individual healthcare facility that is making the hire. With that being said, similar to standard background checks, there are some obvious offenses that simply can not be overlooked.

One of the biggest offenses that will never be overlooked are those that would cost the healthcare facility money in either legal fees or through the loss of funding. For example, an individual who is applying for a job as a pharmacist but is on the FDA debarment list will have virtually no chance of being hired due to the potential legal fees.

Similarly, anyone who is found to be on an exclusions list at OIG or SAM would have no chance of being hired at a healthcare facility.

Like in a federal warrant document, if someone is debarred from federal funds, there will be a record.

Some offenses that would not immediately disqualify an individual include those involving crimes that are unrelated to their field of work. Similar to retail jobs, many times a criminal history is not automatic grounds for the individual to not be hired, like with Wal-Mart’s hiring process.

Rather, the hiring manager will discuss the criminal history, and perhaps use methods to learn to find out about someone’s charges, or employment record, and make a decision as to whether or not the criminal history poses a potential risk to the facility, it’s employees or the patients.

How Far Back Does a Level 3 Background Check Go?

All background checks are dictated by local laws that determine how far back they can go.  In many cases, there is what is known as the 7-year rule. The 7-year rules state that criminal history information related to a crime that occurred more than 7 years ago can not be reported by the background check agency.

This rule applies to healthcare jobs in states that abide by these rules. However, many of the databases that are checked are lists that disbar individuals from working in certain industries indefinitely.

In this case, if an individual is on such a list, the information will be available, even if the crime that landed them on the list occurred more than 7 years ago.

Getting a background check can often be a nerve-wracking process. However, it is important to remember that although a level 3 background check may sound intimidating, the average individual will have nothing to worry about.

Frequently Asked Questions About Level 3 Background Check

What Are OCC Health Screenings?

An OCC Health Screening, also known as an Occupational Health Screening is a type of health check that is used to determine whether or not an individual meets the physical requirement to perform a specific job. This is especially important in the healthcare industry for a variety of reasons.

For certain healthcare jobs heavy lifting may be required (Such as an EMT) as well as other physical requirements that involve individuals being able to move quickly. Preventing the spread of disease and illness is also an important part of OCC health screenings. Ensuring that healthcare workers are not allergic to certain drugs that they may be exposed to or that they don’t carry any diseases that can be accidentally passed on to a patient are both important checks that need to be performed.

Does a Level 3 Include a Criminal Background Check?

Yes, a level 3 background check will almost always include a criminal background check. With an FACIS check a criminal background check is part of the many databases that are searched. Specifically the FBI and Department of Justice Database checks will uncover any criminal history that an individual has.

For non-FACIS level 3 background checks, a criminal history check is almost always included, opposed to a level 1 check which is often simply name and address verification.

What’s a FACIS Level 3 Background Check License Number?

A license number is often used as part of a FACIS level 3 background check to ensure that certain licenses have not expired or been suspended. This will be a part of the search itself, alone with the name of the individual. The search will include a check of license numbers to ensure that they are active and were not obtained fraudulently.

What’s the Difference Between a Level 3 Background Check and a Level 4 Background Check?

A level 3 background check is designed to search federal databases for entities and people who are listed on federal exclusions lists, usually related to healthcare fraud. However, a level 4 background check is generally used for executive level background checks, which include fingerprint criminal history checks, social media and credit checks, as well as bankruptcy checks. These background checks are typically reserved for chief officer positions.


1DEA. (n.d.). Home | DEA. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved May 15, 2024, from <https://www.dea.gov/>

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