How Online Criminal Records Searches Fall Short

A quick look around the internet might very well give you the impression that pre-employment screening is a simple, do-it-yourself project. Many criminal records check websites claim to have “national databases” and to turn up “all misdemeanors,” implying that conducting a pre-employment background check is as simple as performing a quick web search.

Unfortunately, these websites can be misleading. In order to ensure a thorough, proper pre-employment screening – one that will hold up in court should the issue of liability come up – it’s better to work with an expert third-party criminal records check company that can both provide comprehensive information and comply with the governmental regulations for your state.

A pre-employment background check should consist of:

Social Security number trace. This will reveal past places of residence for up to seven prior years and indicate what jurisdictions need to be examined in a criminal records check.

  • State criminal records check. Only some states submit information to “national databases,” so each state’s records must be examined for felony convictions in a pre-employment screening.
  • County records check. A county records check will reveal misdemeanors that have not been reduced from felony charges. These misdemeanors are important for pre-employment background checks, since they can involve theft, domestic abuse and substance use that could affect job performance or trustworthiness.
  • City records check. To be absolutely certain you are hiring only the best, your pre-employment screening needs to include an examination of records even down to the city level.

Many employers do not have in-house human resources professionals who are highly trained in the rules and regulations governing what information can be used to make employment decisions. And if your business operates in more than one state, it would take considerable manpower to keep your business compliant in each jurisdiction. Using a third-party pre-employment screening service ensures that each criminal records check is both thorough and compliant with applicable rules.


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