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FBI Background Check Explained In Full

FBI Background Check Explained In Full
August 28, 2022

An FBI background check, also known as a rap sheet, is a report on an individual's criminal history or activity. Data from background checks are obtained from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. 

While a firm can conduct a background on a potential employee, only the person subject to the background check can request a copy of their criminal history or proof that it doesn't exist from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

However, aside from the criminal history, the background check can also include details about an individual's naturalization, military service, or federal employment.

The person's consent to the background check is usually required even though they may not be privy to the information contained in the report.

Continue reading to find out all you need to know about FBI background checks.

Persons Who Need an FBI Background Check

Employers are the most common type of persons that request FBI background checks.

Some jobs require employees to have a clear criminal history, while others require background checks to maintain employment.

Persons working in medical and teaching professions are usually subjected to background checks. 

FBI background checks are also conducted for prospective government employees such as federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

In addition, independent contractors handling sensitive data can also conduct background checks on persons of interest. 

Apart from corporate employers, individuals may also find FBI background checks valuable.

For instance, families looking to employ a nanny can request a background check to ascertain the potential nanny's character to ensure their children's safety. 

Conversely, persons looking to adopt a child will be made to undergo an FBI background check by the agency conducting the adoption.

You can also request a personal background check to ensure that the information provided to your potential employers and any other person is accurate. 

The Information Contained in an FBI Background Check

The Federal Bureau of Investigation manages the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which is the national database of all information on criminal justice.

The database includes details like a person's criminal history, lists of wanted fugitives, and missing persons. The following information can be obtained from an FBI background check: 

Criminal History 

The primary reason why FBI background checks are conducted is to verify a person's criminal history.

The FBI gathers criminal reports from information compiled using fingerprint matches from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. 

The background check may include information on charges, criminal convictions, records on incarceration, and outstanding warrants.

However, convictions that have been removed or sealed by a judge do not form part of your criminal record and, therefore, won't appear in a background check. 

Housing History 

A housing history provides prospective employers with information on your phone numbers and contact address.

In addition, if you recently stayed in a family member's apartment, the contact details of such family members may also show up during the check. 

Security Clearance 

A security clearance is the highest level of FBI background checks. This clearance is conducted on persons who work in sensitive agencies like the CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, etc.

It also covers persons working for government contractors with access to valuable national security data. 

These bodies require the highest level of clearance, and persons employed to work in such agencies are hired on the condition they undergo security clearance.

Security clearance includes details of interviews conducted by the FBI with relatives, neighbors, and friends of potential employees.

Credit History 

While credit history is not usually contained in a background check, bankruptcy is a public record and, as such, could appear on your background check.

This especially happens if your potential employer simultaneously runs a credit check; they would obtain your present credit report. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, poor credit history may not necessarily disqualify you from a job. However, it might delay your employment pending when the negative entries on your credit are settled. 

Steps on How to Conduct an FBI Background Check

The following steps are involved in conducting an FBI background check:

Step 1: Complete an Application Form

The first stage is to complete a simple one-page application form. The form will contain details like your physical description, phone number, citizenship, email address, request reason, and home address.

This form can be requested, filled out, and signed by a family or a couple. 

Step 2: Get Your Fingerprint 

While waiting for your report, request your fingerprint. This is one of the most challenging parts of the process.

A fingerprint technician can be contacted to take your fingerprint. The FBI mostly accepts the FD-1164 fingerprint cards on standard white paper stock. 

Only use current fingerprints; you must include flat and rolled impressions of 10 fingerprints. Your fingerprint will not be accepted unless it is legible, and your name and date of birth must be on the fingerprint card. 

Step 3: Make the Needed Payment 

The cost of an FBI background check is $18, and you can pay using two different payment methods:

1. Credit card, 

2. Certified check or money order


Step 4: Review Every Detail and Submit 

Once you have completed the application, received your fingerprint card, and made your payment, proceed to submit your application.

However, before submitting your request, it is recommended that you go through your application to ensure everything is in place. 


An FBI background check is an excellent way to extract valuable information about a person. It enables employers and individuals to understand the character and disposition of a person using data sourced from the FBI.

The information above will guide you on all you need to know about FBI background checks!

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