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What is the Distinction Between a Criminal Record Check and a Background Check?

Most people would assume that a background check includes some kind of criminal check – and they would be correct. But background checks and criminal record checks are not exactly the same. So, what is a criminal record check, and what is a background check? And how are these two types of screenings different? 

Let’s take a closer look at the distinction between these two screenings.

What is a criminal record check?

A criminal record check is a specific type of background check that investigates a candidate’s criminal history. Criminal record checks can be run at the federal, state, and local level, and may uncover felonies, misdemeanors, pending court cases, arrests, active warrants, incarceration history, and more. Depending on the situation, some records might not appear. For example, since juvenile records are usually wiped after a period of time, they will usually not appear on a criminal record check.  

What is a background check?

The point of a background check is to verify someone’s background – that can include criminal history, but it doesn’t have to. The term “background check” is a general term that can encompass a variety of different screenings, and companies use different kinds of background checks depending on their needs. Elements that could make up a background check include: 

  • Credit report 
  • Social security number search 
  • Motor vehicle record searches 
  • Drug screening 
  • Reference checks 
  • Academic verifications 
  • Employment verifications 
  • Address history searches 
  • Professional license verifications 

What’s the difference?

So, what is the difference between a criminal record check and a background check? Essentially, a criminal record check is a specific check focused on criminal history, and it may be a part of a background check. On the other hand, a background check is a more general term that can encompass a variety of types of searches and verifications. Employees commonly use both types of screenings to vet the candidates they are considering hiring – which one you choose depends on what you need out of your screenings.  

Need To Conduct Employment Screenings? 

That’s where we come in. Metrodata Services is the PBSA-accredited employment screening firm that can develop customized background check packages to meet your needs, whether you’re looking for criminal record checks or something more comprehensive. Contact us today to learn more about what we can offer your company!  

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