Table of Contents
What does a background check show? Background checks can reveal a lot of highly-sensitive info. For this reason, employers and job seekers need to know what all is included in the different types of background checks and how exactly that info can be used legally.
In this article, we will answer the most common questions we get about what appears on different background checks. This includes employment (employer) background checks, criminal background checks, level 2 background checks and fingerprint background checks.
A quick google search online will show that background checks come in many different types and forms. Each background check type reveals a different level of personal and background information. If you are a job candidate or an employer, it’s a good idea to know exactly what kind of information will be shown for each background check type…and more importantly how that information can be used.
Information that is uncovered from an employment background check is very personal and sensitive information. For this reason they must comply with very strict privacy-protection laws and regulations. Using a background check to make a hiring decision also must comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Sharing this information may also be restricted by additional local and state requirements.
When running an employment background check, you need to make sure you are using an accredited agency that abides by the FCRA guidelines.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a job, it’s important to background check yourself to see what is on your public records report.
Pre-employment Background Check: What Shows Up?
What shows up on pre-employment background checks includes a handful of different records:
- Criminal background checks
- Verification of past employment
- Education level
- Professional qualifications and licenses obtained
In addition to the information about, depending on the type of job and the nature of the work, employers may also:
- Look up candidates’ driving history and driving records
- Require candidates to comply with a drug test as part of the pre-employment screening processes
To be clear, pre-employment drug screening is usually made mandatory for jobs that include operating motor vehicles and operating dangerous equipment, or revolve around providing safety for the public, other company employees, or customers.
With that said, local and state laws do limit a portion of what can be shown on an employment background check:
If a job candidate is applying for a job that makes less than $75,000 per year, some information will not show up in the background check results:
- Civil judgements
- Government sanctions
- Disciplinary action relating to professional licensing
However, if the job is for a position that makes more than $75,000 per year, that information can appear in your records…even if it has been longer than seven years ago.
What Does a Fingerprint Background Check Show vs. a Normal Background Check?
The phrasing “fingerprint background check” is actually a term used to describe a background check that uses a candidate’s fingerprint (and other personal info) to retrieve historical data.
The main reason for a fingerprint background check is that it provides a high level of certainty. In other words, you can be sure that the records are associated with the candidate in question.
The exact nature of fingerprint searches can vary, and depends on what information the employer requests as well as what database is being used by the company performing the check.
In most cases, a fingerprint check relies on the FBI criminal records database. However, other “Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems” (AFIS) and databases may be used instead. Or in some cases, both will be used.
There is a difference, however, between an FBI background check and a level 2 check though both require fingerprints. The former is required for public or governmental positions while the latter is required when investigating those who will around vulnerable peoples such as children and the elderly.
What Goes Into FBI Background Checks for Employment? (Fingerprints)
Used often to screen a candidate for jobs within federal governmental agencies, government contractors, and companies working alongside federal agencies, an FBI background check can uncover any and all interactions a candidate might have had with law enforcement (as long as that info was provided to the federal FBI database system. This can include convictions as well as arrests that did not end up with indictments or convictions. It can also include traffic and driving violations (even things like parking tickets).
Candidates must comply with fingerprinting by a verified law enforcement agency where their fingerprints will be reviewed against the FBI’s own Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). The IAFIS is a large database of fingerprints submitted by law enforcement groups, immigration agencies, and employment screenings from the past. This data matches personal information to prints taken for both criminal and civil reasons.
Fingerprints will also be compared against the National Crime Information Center’s (NCIC) computer database. The NCIC is a massive collection of criminal histories including wanted criminals, sexual offenders, and even terrorists.
But FBI background checks have been under increased fire in recent years, because FBI databases are sometimes incomplete, and also because the records they have may harm minorities disproportionately during job applications.
To be clear, passing an FBI background check does not mean you obtain a security clearance. It may be one of the first steps in the process, but security clearances normally include significantly more in-depth checks such as interviews with people who are very close with the candidate.
What Does a Level 2 Background Check Consist Of?
Level 2 background checks are a special type of fingerprint background checks. They are normally uses for jobs where candidates may be working with people that are vulnerable, such as children and those with disabilities. But Level 2 background checks aren’t just required for job seekers; they are also required for volunteers at schools, nursing homes, and daycare centers. Foster parents are also often required to comply with a Level 2 check before adopting.
Level 2 background checks review applicants by searching databases with information about arrests and prison time related to violent crimes against vulnerable people.
It is important to note that these types of background checks can even release records sealed by court rulings, to include juvenile arrests and detention time.
Another common use for a level 2 check is obtaining a police clearance certificate (USA).
Alternatively, a level 1 background check may be used for a low-level or entry position that does not deal with sensitive information or vulnerable people such as children or the elderly.
What will show up with YOUR background check?
What your background check consists of will depend on many factors, including the type of info being requested and the types of background checks being run. The best way to know is to run a background check on yourself.
Note: if you find anything incorrect with your report, you should fix your background check as soon as possible to avoid any negative consequences.