But their background check came back clean!


A 6-part blog on why background checks miss records: Part 5

I hope that the four previous weeks (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)  have opened your eyes to some of the ways that different screening methods can have a significant impact on the quality of the results of a search.

In this part, I will shed some light on one of the biggest gaps in most background check packages: Federal convictions. I can say with confidence that 90% or more of those reading this blog could run a background check on someone convicted of a federal crime and it would come back clean. Why? Because federal convictions do not have a record anywhere outside of the federal courts and the vast majority of background check companies don’t offer a federal criminal search. This is a huge risk to your organization.

Searching Federal Convictions is a Must

If you are not checking for federal convictions in your search, you will miss convictions for most financial crimes including fraud, embezzlement, and grand larceny, as well as internet crimes. Things like enticement of minors, solicitation across state lines, kidnapping, and human trafficking. Even interstate drug or weapon trafficking. Do you want to hire someone with convictions like that? And those are only a few of the possibilities. Anytime a crime crosses state lines, sometimes even county lines, or is a violation of federal law, it will be prosecuted in federal court. If you don’t specifically search for federal convictions, you will miss them.

The Wrong & the Right Way to Search

Like most searches, there is a right way and a wrong way to conduct the search. While most background check companies don’t offer federal searches as an option, most of those that do will only search the federal districts that cover the applicant’s state of residence. There are 94 federal districts with each state having at least one. The issue with searching this way is that if a person is prosecuted at the federal level, he is often not prosecuted where he lives. This means that if you search the districts in an applicant’s state, you still miss the conviction. The only way to be thorough is to do a nationwide search of all 94 federal districts. Given the nature of most federal crimes, not doing a thorough federal check seems a gross oversight. Some would argue that since federal crimes make up a much smaller percentage than most other crimes, that it’s not that important. The question is, is the risk worth it?


One Source’s TotalCheck and TotalCheck Plus packages include a real-time, nationwide search of all 94 federal districts.



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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