If you have ever been employed, chances are good that you’ve
had a background check run on you. Employers looking for reliable,
trustworthy individuals will often use these reports to confirm
that information given on a resume is true and ensure that
they are hiring persons of high standards. But what is included
in a background check? Do you have control over who can access
your report? How can you find out what is on your record?
What is included in a background check?
Specific details of an individual’s past are revealed in a
background check for purposes of employment. Depending on
the company providing the background check, your report may
include a range of information, including: criminal records,
litigation records, driving and vehicle records, education
records, licensing records, military records, social security
number, property ownership, credit records, employment history,
worker’s compensation, medical records, sex offenders list,
and interpersonal interviews (with neighbors and other character
references). Some services offer nothing more than the information
given in a phone book, while others employ private investigators
that offer the whole gamut of information. Most employers
hire an outside company to give them the type of information
that is pertinent to the job you are being considered for.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act bankruptcies more than
ten years old; civil suits, judgments, and records of arrest
more than seven years old; paid tax liens after seven years;
accounts placed for collection after seven years; and any
other negative information (other than criminal convictions)
after seven years cannot be reported in a background
Do you have control over who can access your report?
While some feel they have nothing to hide in a background
check, concerns over submitting to one are certainly valid.
Some applicants fear that employers can dig into the past
in ways that are unrelated to their jobs. In addition, a background
check may include information that is illegal to use for hiring,
or comes from questionable sources.
When you complete an application for employment you must
give your consent for a background check to be run. This is
one reason why it is so important to be open and honest if
there is anything in your past that may show up on your record.
In some fields a clean background check is required by law
for employment or to even qualify to give volunteer work,
such as jobs where individuals interact with children and
youth, elderly, or disabled people. Jobs that require an individual
to cross the nation’s borders or involve transporting goods
or people will also require successful background checks.
It is easy to understand why background checks would be required
in such cases. In some states it is also mandatory to pass
a background check in order to purchase a handgun or other
Some recent controversy has risen over whether dating services
should be allowed to process background checks. Services contend
that they want to supply their clients with peace of mind
that the people they meet within the system are upstanding
citizens, while others contend that personal information should
be volunteered by clients at their own discretion, just as
it is in the “real world.”
How can you find out what is on your record?
It is in your best interest to check and update all aspects
of your background check, regardless of the type of employment
you are looking for. For instance, an employer may review
your credit history as a means of judging your reliability,
regardless of whether you will be working with money or not.
It is also important to note that if you have been arrested
for DUI or DWI, this is not considered a minor traffic infraction,
and the failure to report it can result in being denied employment
based on falsifying a form.
If you are entering the job market, and you have any concern
about your record, you can hire a company to run a background
check for you. Companies are listed in the yellow pages, and
there are several services on-line. Most of the information
is a matter of public records created by government agencies.
You can certainly search out your own information.
About the Author:
Francesca Black develops educational material for
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