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How Far Back Does a Standard Background Check Go?

Like many companies in Western New York, you need to run background screenings on the candidates you are interested in hiring. But how far back should you look? And how far back does the standard background check go? It turns out that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on the type of check that’s being run, what is allowed by law, and what makes sense based on the position being hired for.  

With that being said, the industry standard is to conduct a background search that goes back to the last seven years.

Let’s take a closer look at some particular areas of background checks and how far back they should go.  

Criminal Record Checks

How far back a criminal record check goes depends on the state in which you’re hiring. The following states limit the reporting of a conviction to seven years: California, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, and Washington State. Outside of those states, federal law makes it permissible to search for criminal activity as far back as you’d like. Still, it’s important to think about whether it’s relevant to search for criminal history going back decades; if someone has a misdemeanor on their record from thirty years ago and there isn’t a pattern of criminality, it may not have any effect on the hiring decision now.  

Employment History

Most companies follow the industry standard of seven years when it comes to verifying employment history, although this can vary widely depending on the position, the particular candidate, and other factors. And it’s possible that a candidate has had a multiple-year break in employment history; in a case like that, checking beyond 10 years prior may make sense. Employment verification is an area in which employers should make careful considerations about how useful the information will be to the existing hiring situation.  

Credit Reports

Many standard background checks include a credit report, and credit reports are commonly used when hiring for financial positions. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has specific guidelines on credit check reports and how far back they can go – usually, screenings go back a maximum of seven years. 

Let Us Help With Your Screening Needs 

Background checks can be confusing – we get it. That’s why we’re here to help your company with its screening needs. Contact Metrodata Services to learn more about our services and find out how we can help. 

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