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What Is a Background Check?
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What is a Background Check?
A background check is the process of looking up official and commercial records about a person. Traditionally done by the police, now often carried out by private businesses, background checks usually include the individual's past employment information, financial status, and criminal history. Background checks allow for better-informed and more objective evaluations to be made about a person and prevent improper and illegal discrimination, identity theft, and violation of privacy.

United States Screening

Laws
Due to the sensitivity of the information enclosed in consumer reports and certain records, there is an array of important laws regulating the distribution and legal use of this information. Remarkably, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the use of consumer reports (which it defines as information gathered and reported by third party agencies) as it relates to undesirable decisions, notification to the consumer, and destruction and safekeeping of records. If a consumer report is used as a reason in a hiring decision, the consumer must be presented with a “Pre-adverse action disclosure,” a copy of the FCRA summary of rights, and a “notification of adverse action letter.” Consumers have the right to know the source of any information used against them including a credit reporting company.

Types of Checks
Potential employers can use different types of investigative searches in order to obtain one’s background information. Many commercial sites offer specific searches to employers for a fee. Theses services are the ones that perform the checks, supply the company with adverse action letters, and ensure compliance all over the process. It is important to be careful when selecting a pre-employment screening agency. A legitimate agency will be more than happy to explain the background checking process to you.

Numerous employers prefer to search for the most common records such as criminal records, driving records, and education verification. Other searches such as sex offender registry, credential authentication, reference checks, credit reports and Patriot Act searches are becoming more and more common. Employers ought to take the position in question into account when deciding which types of searches to perform, and should always use the same searches for every applicant for the same position.

Reasons
Background checks are usually carried out in order to confirm information found on an employment application or résumé/curriculum vitae. Background checks are also often conducted, as a way to further distinguish between potential employees and pick the one the employer feels is the most appropriate for the position. In the United States, the Brady Bill requires criminal checks for those wishing to procure handguns from licensed firearms dealers. Restricted firearms (like machine guns), suppressors, explosives or large quantities of precursor chemicals, and concealed weapons permits also require criminal checks. Checks are also necessary for those working in positions with special security concerns, such as trucking, ports of entry, and airline transportation. Other laws prohibit individuals who do not pass a criminal check to work in careers involving the elderly, disabled, or children.

Possible Information Included
The information included on a check depends to a large extent on the reason for which it is conducted - e.g., somebody looking for employment at a minimum wage job would be subject to far less requirements than somebody applying to work for the FBI.

Litigation records
Employers may want to identify potential employees who regularly file discrimination lawsuits. It has also been supposed that in the U.S., employers that work for the government do not like to hire stool pigeons that have a history of filing qui tam suits.

Driving and vehicle records
Employers in the transportation sector look for drivers with clean driving records--i.e., those without a history of accidents or traffic tickets.

Drug tests
Employers might use them for an assortment of reasons--corporate ethics, assessing potential employee performance, and keeping the workers' compensation premiums down.

Education records
These are used chiefly to see if the potential employee really possesses a college degree, graduate degree, or some other recognized university degree. Employers are also known to be requesting SAT score reports.

Employment records
These typically vary from simple verbal confirmations of past employment and time frame, to conversations about performance, activities and achievements, and relations with others.

Financial information
Credit scores, liens, civil verdicts, or bankruptcy are commonly included in the report.

Licensing records
Government authorities that have oversight over the professional behavior of its licensees usually keep records regarding the licensee, such as personal information, education, complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions.

Military records
Though not as common today as it was in the past fifty years, employers regularly request the details of one's military discharge.

Social Security Number
(or the non US equivalent). A fake SSN may indicate about identity theft, inadequate citizenship, or concealment of a "past life".

Other interpersonal interviews
Employers will typically wish to speak with the potential employees' references in order to decide whether to hire or not. More rigorous checks can involve interviews with anybody that know or formerly knew the applicant--such as teachers, friends, coworkers, bosses and family members.






Above information courtesy of wikipedia.org




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