What Is Background Screening?

Before you employ a potential hire, merge with a new business, or accept a rental application for your property, you may want to consider a deep dive into the qualifications and history of your candidate.

While a background screening—also known as a background check—can’t confirm that an applicant is a good fit, it helps ensure that your candidate is reliable, honest, and dependable. Understanding the background of an applicant provides crucial insight into the character of your candidate before you agree to work with them or rent them property.

Why are background screenings important?

Whether for pre-employment purposes, corporate due diligence, or screening a new tenant, background screenings are the best way to learn about your candidate. But why are they so important?

With fabrications come liabilities

Employees or renters with fake degrees, bad credit, or a criminal history can expose you to serious risks.

Depending on your business, hiring an employee that’s not certified can jeopardize your business. Employing a teacher with a sex offender history could compromise the safety of your school and students.

When it comes to renting, a renter with a bad credit history could leave you waiting for their payment and may force you to resort to taking legal action against them.

Ensure your employees are the right fit

Scanning a candidate’s background helps you to learn more about your applicant’s character. By investigating your employee’s background and history, you can ensure that you’re hiring the right person for the job.

Keep your reputation squeaky clean

Aside from simply keeping your business running and protecting you from lawsuits, background checks ensure your reputation is protected.

Hiring decisions reflect your reputation as a company. If something unsavory is revealed about an employee, you may have to take responsibility, and this can harm the reputation of your company. Reviewing your applicant’s background before employing them diminishes the possibility of hiring a disreputable candidate.

Protect your team and tenants

The best work and home environments are safe ones. A background check will most likely reflect a candidate’s values and will protect your current team members and tenants by ensuring that your newest hire or resident will conduct themselves in a responsible and respectful manner.

So, what is included in a background check?

Most types of screenings will take under 24 hours—at EagleScreen, the average wait time is about 18 hours.

Depending on the type of background check we’re running for you, there are a variety of searches that can be relevant—or even absolutely necessary. These are the most common elements of a background screening.

Nationwide criminal history check

This type of search scans the entire country’s federal and county records for information about your candidate.

Criminal history checks thoroughly investigate potential criminal charges made by the federal district court. These crimes can include assault, theft, embezzlement, criminal road incidents, and fraud, amongst many others. These searches will be returned either “clear” or “not clear,” and positive searches will include the plaintiff, prosecutor, charge, filing, and court dates.

When criminal records are investigated, results with no match can take under 24 hours—at EagleScreen, they usually take about 18. If results are “not clear,” receiving the information will take a longer amount of time.

County civil court record search

County civil searches date back about seven years, and yield “clear” or “not clear” results. As with criminal records, these searches include a large variety of information about the case.

The main difference between civil and federal searches is the potential charges made against the client. These are made by a plaintiff, as opposed to a prosecutor. Often, these cases result in financial action, as opposed to incarceration. This can also include any traffic violations from driving records, which is very important when hiring a driver.

National sex offender registry search

Sex offender searches are extremely important, especially for pre-employment or rental screenings. These searches are nationwide and include names (including alternates), physical appearance, current and past addresses, date, and location of birth, as well as the offense and date of conviction.

Fortunately, these offenders are required by law to update their addresses whenever it changes. Information being submitted during a national sex offender search is always current.

Credit check

Credit checks are necessary to ensure you’re hiring a financially responsible candidate or renting property to someone who is able to pay for it. To run this type of check, we reach out to various credit reporting institutions to confirm the credit history of your applicant.

Nationwide bankruptcy search

Available through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (or PACER), bankruptcy records are indexed nightly and are available immediately when searched. These records show bankruptcies filed in the last ten years—if there are any.

Social Security trace

Like a bankruptcy search and credit check, having a social security number (SSN) checked allows you to see your applicant’s current and past places of residence, and where to investigate their records. SSN traces go back about ten years.

Social media screening

Social media screenings search a candidate’s activity on social media for red flags, such as:

  • Drug use
  • Violence
  • Racism
  • Bullying
  • Explicit content

Drug screening

Drug tests check for particular drugs and can vary in results based on the sample (blood, urine, hair, or saliva). These drugs often include:

  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine
  • Cocaine
  • THC
  • Methamphetamines

License and education verification

Education and professional license screenings verify that your candidate can do their job correctly and safely and protect you from lawsuits or liabilities. We connect with educational or licensing facilities and confirm your candidate’s credentials.

Employment history verification

During these searches, we connect with former employers to verify that the information provided by the candidate is correct and to check references to ensure the candidate is honest and reliable.

Compliance is key

During a background check, investigatory compliance is mandatory—otherwise, you may face lawsuits and financial repercussions.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows candidates protective rights regarding the treatment and transfer of their information. Candidates must receive documents from you requesting permission for a background screening, and you must also provide them with the reason in writing if something in the screening causes their application to be rejected.

Get your best check with EagleScreen

Choosing the right background check service is incredibly important, and our team at EagleScreen will always give you the best and most efficient service for your screening.

Having accurate, verified information on a candidate of any kind will put you at ease—after you’ve confirmed that your candidate is a good fit, you’ll feel much more relaxed knowing that you’ve made a safe, informed decision. To learn more about background checks and which type is right for your business or rental property, contact us today.

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