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Types of Background Checks in the United States

Types of Background Checks in the United States
February 9, 2023

Personal and professional background checks make it possible to reveal reliable and official information about people. In the United States, there are several types of background checks that are performed daily. 

 

It is highly likely that you will undergo at least one type of background check during your lifetime, so it is important to get yourself familiar with the various types of such checks. 

 

Here we will review the types of background checks in the United States, and what information they reveal.


What are the Different Types of Background Checks in America?


In the United States, there are several types of background checks that employers, landlords, and other organizations can perform, including:


• Criminal Background Check: This is the most common type of background check. It involves checking criminal records at the local, state, and federal levels to determine if an individual has a history of criminal activity.


• Employment Verification: This type of check involves verifying an individual's work history and job titles, salary, and dates of employment.


• Education Verification: This type of check involves verifying an individual's educational background, including degrees, certificates, and transcripts.


• Driving Record Check: This type of check involves reviewing an individual's driving record to determine if they have a history of traffic violations or accidents.

 

a man's hands on a keyboard


• Credit Report Check: This type of check involves reviewing an individual's credit history to determine their financial stability and responsibility.


• Drug Testing: This type of check involves testing an individual for drug use, typically as a condition of employment in certain industries such as transportation, healthcare, and public safety.


• Civil Record Check: This type of check involves reviewing an individual's civil court records to determine if they have a history of lawsuits, judgments, or other civil actions.


Background Checks Explained: What Does Each Check Reveal?


Criminal Background Check


Verifying a person's criminal past is done through a criminal background check. 

 

A criminal background check is done to find out if someone has a criminal history and to decide whether they are fit for certain jobs, apartments, or other situations.


An individual's arrest history, charges, and convictions are normally disclosed by a criminal background check. 

 

Background checks may also reveal details about outstanding warrants, time spent in jail or prison, and the type of offenses committed.


Employers, landlords, licensing authorities, and government agencies are just a few of the entities that may conduct a criminal background check. 

 

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A criminal history check can be done in a number of ways, including:


• Online Services: For a price, a lot of online services provide criminal background checks. These services often obtain data about a person's criminal past from publicly accessible databases.
• The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or a state criminal justice organization may utilize a person's fingerprints to conduct a criminal background check.
• Court Records: To learn more about a person's criminal past, court records can be manually searched or accessed through online databases.
• Law enforcement Organizations: Local, state, and federal law enforcement organizations are able to disclose details about a person's criminal history; however, the process may take longer and be constrained by security and privacy rules.


Employment Verification


Verification of employment an individual's employment history, job titles, salaries, and dates of employment are verified by a background check of this kind. 

 

As part of the pre-employment screening procedure, prospective employers frequently undertake this kind of background check.


An employment verification background check will reveal the following information:


• Employment History: This information verifies a person's prior employment and includes the names of those employers, the jobs they held, and the dates on which they were employed.
• Salary History: This information verifies the person's prior salaries and might also contain bonuses and other types of pay.
• Employment Obligations: This information gives specifics on the person's prior job responsibilities and duties.


By contacting the person's previous employers and asking for employment verification, a background check is carried out. 

 

a woman typing on a laptop

 

While some employers might ask for the individual's formal permission before disclosing information, others might accept it readily.


The Work Number, a database of job data kept by Equifax, is one example of an online database that can be used for background checks that involve employment verification. 

 

These databases offer a rapid and practical means of confirming a person's job history.


It's crucial to keep in mind that the accuracy of the data gathered during an employment verification background check depends on the information provided by the applicant's previous employers, some of whom might not have complete or accurate records. 

 

Due to privacy and security considerations, some employers might also be unable or reluctant to disclose information.


Education Verification Background Check


certification of education A background check is a procedure used to confirm a person's educational background and history. 

 

This kind of background investigation is frequently carried out for employment purposes to verify that a candidate has the academic credentials they claim to have.


An education verification background check will reveal the following details, among others:


• Degree verification: Verifies a candidate's highest level of education degree type, major, and graduation date.
• Verifies whether a candidate was enrolled in a particular educational program at a particular period.
• Verification of a candidate's diploma: Assures the validity of the diploma.

• Verification of a candidate's transcript: Ascertains the grades and coursework they earned while enrolled in school.

 

a man pressing a 3D illustration of a search bar


Verification of Education and Background Checks are carried out by getting in touch with the educational institution directly and asking for confirmation of the data offered by the applicant. 

 

The educational institution might submit an online verification form or a letter of verification. In some instances, the check might be carried out by a third-party verification provider.


Although education background checks are frequently utilized in the recruiting process, it's crucial to remember that some people may have fabricated their educational credentials, thus they may not always give a clear picture of a candidate's qualifications.


Driving Records Background Check


A background check that examines a person's driving history is known as a driving records background check. 

 

Background checks of this kind can reveal details on offenses including moving violations, suspensions, revocations, DUI/DWI convictions, points, incidents, and other crucial information. 

 

The typical method for doing this kind of background investigation is to get a copy of the applicant's driving record from the state's department of motor vehicles.


A driving record background check can provide a wide range of information about an individual's driving history. 

 

The report may include the following items: accident reports, traffic violations, license suspensions, vehicular crimes, license status, and prior driving records from other states.


Additionally, employers may use MVR checks to verify the driving history of employees with driving responsibilities or those who use rental cars for business purposes.


A person or institution that needs to analyze a person's driving history, like an employer, an auto insurance provider, or a government agency, will frequently do a driving record background check. Here is how it works:


• Requesting a background check on your driving history is the first step. Online, by mail, or in person at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office are all acceptable ways to submit this request.
• Authorization: The person whose driving record is being examined must give their permission to the requester. The check can only be carried out with the person's written consent.
• Source of Information: After that, the requester sends their inquiry to the DMV or another state office that keeps track of driver's
• Search: To find the person's driving history, the DMV or state agency conducts a database search. The record will normally contain details about the person's driving history, including any accidents, traffic infractions, and license suspensions.

• Review: The requester examines the applicant's driving history and record of driving. The requester may use this information to decide on hiring, insurance coverage, or other matters depending on the objective of the check.
• Reporting: The requester may give the person or another party a copy of the driving record background check to the relevant party.


It's crucial to remember that each state may have different requirements for background checks on driving records, and some states have limitations on who can obtain these data and how they can be utilized.

 

a man holding a CDL license while standing next to a truck


Credit Report Background Check:


One type of background check that offers details about a person's credit history and financial soundness is a credit report background check. 

 

Employers, landlords, and lenders use this data to determine a person's financial responsibility and capacity for debt repayment.


The following details are revealed by a credit report background check:


• Personal information: Name, address, and Social Security number of the subject.
• A record of a person's credit accounts, such as mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, and other debts, is provided by their credit history.
• Payment History: Displays the frequency of the person's debt payments, as well as any late or missed payments.
• Credit Scores: Provides the person's credit score, which is a number that describes how creditworthy they are based on their payment and credit histories.


Credit reporting companies including Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion run credit report background checks. 

 

The person's written authorization is required for the lender, landlord, or employer to request a credit report. 

 

To enable the credit reporting agency to obtain the person's credit report, the person must also supply their personal information, such as name, address, and Social Security number.


The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which establishes standards for the use of credit information in hiring and lending decisions, is one legislation that applies to credit report background checks. 

 

Additionally, under the FCRA, people have the right to get a copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once a year and to contest any errors that may be on it.

 

3 magnifying glasses leaning on coin stacks


Drug Test Background Check


The history of a person's drug use is investigated through the screening process known as a drug test background check. 

 

This investigation's main goal is to find out if the subject has ever used illegal drugs or abused prescription medications.


Various techniques, including the testing of blood, saliva, hair, and urine, can be used to detect drugs. 

 

The most popular technique is urine testing, which may identify drugs in a person's system for a short while after they've used them.


The sort of substance taken, the amount used, and the frequency of use can all be revealed by a drug test background check. 

 

Depending on the particular test, it may also reveal the presence of prescription medicines and if they have been used responsibly or abusively by the subject.

 

Drug tests are frequently administered as part of background checks before hiring, but they can also be demanded of workers on a regular basis, as a condition of their continued employment, or in some circumstances, as a requirement for certain activities or positions that require a high level of safety.


It's crucial to remember that, even while drug testing can provide useful information, it cannot ensure a person's suitability for a given job or activity and should be used in conjunction with other methods of background checks.

 

drug test result form


Civil Record Background Check


The sort of substance taken, the amount used, and the frequency of use can all be revealed by a drug test background check. 

 

Depending on the particular test, it may also reveal the presence of prescription medicines and if they have been used responsibly or abusively by the subject.

 

Drug tests are frequently administered as part of background checks before hiring, but they can also be demanded of workers on a regular basis, as a condition of their continued employment, or in some circumstances, as a requirement for certain activities or positions that require a high level of safety.

 

It's crucial to remember that, even while drug testing can provide useful information, it cannot ensure a person's suitability for a given job or activity and should be used in conjunction with other methods. 

 

Public court records, which are kept by federal and state courts, are generally searched in civil record background checks. 

 

Depending on the method selected, the results of the check can be available in a matter of minutes or a few days. The search process can be carried out online or in person.

 

Background checks on civil records are frequently used by companies as a part of the pre-employment screening procedure to assist determine the risk involved with hiring a certain person. 

 

Additionally, they can be used by landlords to vet prospective tenants and by anyone looking to learn more about a potential business partner.


Civil record background checks should be used in conjunction with other types of a background screening, such as criminal record checks and reference checks, to obtain a more complete picture of a person's background. 

 

However, these checks only reveal information regarding a person's civil legal history.

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