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How Far Back Should a Background Check Go? And Is Yours Thorough Enough?

Your company is running a background check in Buffalo, NY. Since you’re hoping to bring the best people into your organization, you want to make sure your process is thorough. So, how deep into your employees’ history should you look?

How Far Back Should a Background Check Go?

Although background checks typically extend back 7 to 10 years, ultimately, the decision may not be up to your company. In many cases, a collection of federal, state, and local laws, control the timeframe. For example, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibits reporting on civil judgments over seven years old. While ban-the-box laws passed at the state or city level may restrict lookbacks on criminal records as well. Of course, juvenile records usually don’t appear in a criminal record search regardless of how much time has passed.

Also, keep in mind the phrase “background check” refers to a variety of different screenings. These may include everything from criminal record searches to credit history checks. Here’s a brief overview of how far back different checks could go.

  • Bankruptcy Checks – 10 years according to the FCRA
  • Civil Record Searches – 7 years according to the FCRA
  • Credit History Checks – 7 years or 10 years, depending on the candidate’s salary and state laws
  • Criminal Felonies – May be reported indefinitely or restricted to 7 or 10 years, depending on state laws
  • Criminal Misdemeanors and Minor Infractions – May be reported indefinitely or restricted to 5, 7, or 10 years, depending on state laws
  • Motor Vehicle Record Searches – 3 to 10 years, depending on the state

Is Your Background Check Process Thorough Enough?

Okay. You know how far back you can go. Now, how far back should you go? The correct answer often depends upon an employee’s role. For instance, if someone is working with children or the elderly, you’ll want as much information about their criminal records as possible. However, if you’re hiring a salesclerk, a 7-year criminal record lookback probably is enough.

Where Do You Begin?

If all this information seems overwhelming, don’t worry. A pre-employment screening company will help your organization set up comprehensive background checks that comply with all the rules. For the best results, look for providers accredited by Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA). This widely accepted seal of approval is awarded to vendors demonstrating the highest level of industry standards.

Are You Ready to Run Thorough Background Checks in Buffalo, NY?

Metrodata Services in Western New York’s leading pre-employment screening service. As a PBSA-accredited vendor, we can help you make the best possible hiring decisions while also staying compliant with applicable laws. Learn more about our customized background check packages today!

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