But their background check came back clean!


A 6-part blog on why background checks miss records: Part 3

Here we go! Part three in our six-part series on why background checks miss records. The first week we talked about searching on the wrong name and last week we talked about database searches. Another reason background checks miss records is that they don’t use the most reliable source of criminal records you will find, the courthouse. Every case is tried in a courthouse; that then maintains the most thorough and up-to-date record of the trial and the results.

Verifying Database Records

You might recall last week I mentioned that the EEOC issued guidelines in 2012 discouraging the use of database only background searches for employment. The reason is that all the information in the databases is considered “unverified”. It is well known that the resource is outdated and incomplete and may cause employers to take adverse action against an applicant based on faulty information. The way most background check companies get around the guideline is that any records found in the database, will be verified at the county level. While this is a good step and absolutely necessary, why only check the county when there is a “hit”? If the county being checked doesn’t sell information to the databases, such as 92 out of 93 counties in Nebraska, nothing will show up and thus not trigger a county search for verification.

Search Statewide Sources

Some states, about half of them, have a thorough, up-to-date statewide records system. This means that the information contained in the statewide source is as good, and considered “verified”, as the information contained in the individual counties. The best background check companies will always default to search statewide sources when they are available. Many do not since they can charge extra money for each county being searched.

The best way to do a search is to search each county the applicant lived in for the past 7-10 years, the most likely places to find a criminal record, and then conduct a nationwide database search to see if there is any indication that the applicant may have a record somewhere they have not lived. This is a very efficient search but remember, nothing is foolproof. If an applicant lived in one county, but had a conviction in a neighboring county and that county did not sell the information to the databases, that record may still not be found.

In a nutshell, the county courthouse is the best place to obtain real-time original source conviction records and should be included in all background checks. All locations the applicant has lived for the past 7 -10 years should be searched. Next week we’ll look at one of the areas of biggest concern for most organizations, sex offender searches.



One Source’s TotalCheck and  TotalCheck Plus packages include county criminal searches for all applicants, not just to verify database hits. One Source always defaults to Statewide searches when they are available to provide the broadest search.



About Author

Greg Simmons
Greg Simmons

Greg oversees the nonprofit business development at One Source. He helps clients around the country and across a full range of industries, hire the right people by providing the most comprehensive pre-employment screening products and services.

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