How Far Back Do Background Checks Go?

Background checks are a common practice for employers to verify the identity and qualifications of potential employees. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) outlines the guidelines for conducting credit history checks and determining how far back they can go. Generally, background checks cover seven years of criminal and judicial records, but some can go back further. For example, bankruptcies can be reported up to 10 years ago.

When it comes to work history evaluations, most employers limit the search to a certain number of employers or years. In most states, criminal background checks for employment can go back seven or ten years. However, some states allow unlimited submission of conviction records and employers may choose to look back an entire decade. The FCRA limits “retroactivity” periods for most types of consumer information to seven years.

This means that when performing background checks, they must be relevant to the position. Pre-employment background checks can go back as far as you want, but employers usually consult for at least seven years about a prospective employee's background. It's important to remember that background checks may not reveal all criminal activity, as the records sought may vary depending on the type of verification and applicable federal and state laws and regulations. For example, a daycare center may conduct a criminal background check on a potential employee to ensure that they have not been convicted of any crimes related to minors.

Verifying employment history requires careful consideration of the usefulness of the information for the current hiring decision, so it's vital to have a background investigation partner that has a proven, effective and efficient process. An employer can conduct criminal background checks to determine if a potential employee has been involved or has been convicted of criminal activity in the past. If you think your background check information is incorrect, you can take steps to challenge it and have it corrected. Employers remain responsible for ensuring that the way they request and use background checks complies with the law and may need to consult with appropriate counsel, such as their legal team, to determine their compliance requirements.

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