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Background Check FAQ:
Frequently Asked Questions

Background Check Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The following background check frequently asked questions come from both employers and applicants.
Applicant Concerns About Background Checks

Criminal Background Checks

How to Do a Background Check

Pros & Cons of Background Checks (The Benefits)

What is a Background Check

What is in a Background Check

Questions we wished you'd ask

Quick Answers To Background Check FAQ's
Q: How do I do a background check? How do I get started? What do you need from me?
A: We strive to make the process easy and straightforward. Account setup is free. See our How to Check a Background: Conduct an Employment Background Check page for a step-by-step process. Q: How do I do a criminal background check?
A: We strive to make a criminal background check easy and straightforward. See How To Do A Criminal Background Check. Q: How do I Verify a Social Security Number?
A: During a background check, the best research tool to check a Social Security Number is a SSN Scan. See, Social Security Number Scan. For more information about Verifying Social Security Numbers before and after a hire, see How to Verify a Social Security Number. Q: Why do background checks?
A: Backgrounding employees has become a matter of necessity for many reasons. Many applicants make false claims on their job applications/resumes or have been involved in criminal activity which they do not disclose. For more information, see Why Do Background Checks? and Fake Resumes, Fake References, Fake Degrees: Employer Beware! Q: What is an employment background check?
A: A Background Check verifies a job candidate's resume and job application. Independent sources such as criminal and civil court records, prior employers, educational institutions, and departments of motor vehicles are researched. For more information, see What is an Employment Background Check? Q: What is a criminal background check?
A: Criminal history files are searched for possible criminal records for an applicant. These criminal record searches are the core of any employment background check. Criminal record checks are the most common of all searches requested from A Matter of Fact. For more information, see Criminal History Background Check. Q: What can be included in a background check?
A: The basic searches ordered as part of most background checks are County Criminal Record Checks, Employment Verifications, and Education Verifications. Social Security Number Scans are also essential because they allow researchers to identify jurisdictions the applicant purposefully or inadvertently neglected to disclose. For more information about available searches, see What Can Be Included In A Background Check? Q: Can I Use Social Media When Conducting A Background Check?
A: A Matter of Fact does not conduct social media searches as part of our background checks and we recommend employers use extreme care before they use information from social media sites when making hiring decisions. For more information about our concerns regarding the use of social media for background checks, see Requiring Social Media Information For Background Checks Is Usually a Bad Idea. Q: What does a typical background check consist of?
A: The typical Employment Background check consists of a Social Security Number Scan, County Criminal Record Checks, Employment Verifications, and Education Verifications. For more information about a typical Background Check, see What Does a Typical Employment Background Check Consist of? Q: What is the best background check?
A: The best background check is a comprehensive background check. A detailed comprehensive background check allows an employer to verify those areas that are important to job performance, would impact the applicant's job qualifications, or could identify safety issues. For more information, see Comprehensive Background Check: The Best Background Check or The Best Background Check Service: The Inside Story. Q: What shows up on a background check?
A: A Background Check shows the discrepancies between a candidate's claims and information reported by independent sources such as court records, prior employers, schools, and government agencies. For more information, see What Shows Up On A Background Check For Employment? Q: Do errors occur in background checks?
A: Yes! Errors do occur in background checks. The information in a background check is created, compiled, filed, stored, retrieved, and reported by individuals who can make mistakes and computer systems that can fail to operate properly. For more information, see Do Background Check Errors Occur? Q: Who does background checks?
A: Professional background screening firms like A Matter of Fact conduct the actual background checks for most private employers. Some large companies have internal corporate security departments. Most government entities use agencies such as the FBI. For more information, see Who Does Background Checks? Q: How to pass a background check?
A: Give a frank and honest explanation during the job interview of any past problems. Check your records, check your references, and check your web footprints. For more information, see How to Pass a Background Check. Q: How long does a background check take to complete?
A: Results are gathered from multiple sources and completed in one to three business days. The process may take longer because a few courts, employers, and schools are hard to contact or slow to respond. Results from these sources are usually back within a week. For more information, see How Long Does a Background Check Take For A Job? Q: How far back do background checks go?
A: The most common employment background check requested by our clients is: A current Social Security Number Scan, County Criminal Record Checks for counties in which an applicant lived, worked, and went to school during the last seven years, Employment Verifications for employers for which the applicant worked during the past seven years, and Education Verifications for all post high school education. However the full answer to the question is more complicated than that. For more information, see How Far Back Do Employment Background Checks Go. Q: What does a background check cost?
A: Cost varies according to depth and quality of the check. Basic background checks typically cost from $50 to $150 (based on the number of searches requested). More careful, comprehensive background checks can cost from $200 to $500. For information about the trade-off between cost and risk, see Criminal Checks: Cost Versus Risk. For suggestions when budget restrictions impact what you can do, see When Background Check Cost is an Issue. Q: What kind of information can I get?
A: Most information on a resume or job application can be verified. Credit checks, driving records, sex offender registry checks, etc., can be very useful if relevant to the job requirements. Also, Form I-9 and E-Verify can be processed online. For more information, see What Can Be In A Background Check? and The Growing Trend to Thorough Background Checks. Q: What do employers look for in a background check?
A: Most prospective employers are concerned about discrepancies between what the applicant claimed and what is reported by schools, prior employers, etc. Most also watch for negative reports such as a bad driving record or a criminal history. It is wise for employers to attempt to verify anything that is important to job performance, would impact the applicant's job qualifications, or could impact the safety of the public, fellow employees, and customers. For more information, see What do Employers Look for in a Background Check. Q: Can anyone run a background check?
A: No. Because of the sensitive nature of the information gathered, background checks are restricted to those with a legal "permissible purpose." A Matter of Fact only conducts background checks on behalf of bona fide employers. Q: Do I need to give the applicant something?
A: Federal law and some states and cities require that an applicant be given written notification before you run a background check. See our Start-Up Kit for more information. Q: Does the applicant need to sign something?
A: Federal law and some states and cities require that an applicant give written authorization before you run a background check. See our Start-Up Kit for more information. Q: Can I run a background check without telling the employee?
A: While most laws require that an applicant be notified about a background check, federal law allows an exemption when investigating suspected wrong-doing by an employee. See Exception When Investigating Possible Employee Wrongdoing or Misconduct. You should consult with an attorney for guidance in your specific situation. Q: What about background checks on Volunteers, Contractors, and Agents?
A: According to the FTC background checks on volunteers, contractors, and agents should be handled as background checks "for employment purposes." See page 32 of the FTC staff report 40 Years of Experience with the Fair Credit Reporting Act: An FTC Staff Report with Summary of Interpretations (July, 2011). Q: Can I enter orders and track results online?
A: Yes. Each client has access to our online client portal where you will be able to enter orders and track results. See Online Employment Background Check Management System. A Matter of Fact's QuickApp™ service provides a paperless online order entry and applicant interface that streamlines workflow and reduces compliance concerns about collecting personal identifiers and providing mandated notifications. See QuickApp™ Online Order Entry and Applicant Interface. Q: How do I get results?
A: Most reports are available online. We can arrange alternative methods of getting your reports if you desire. Q: How soon can I get results?
A: You can track results online as soon as they have been quality-checked for accuracy and completeness. Results usually begin to be available within a day. Q: Do you do California Fingerprints?
A: No. You need to get fingerprints from a LiveScan vendor. For more information about California Fingerprints, see The California Criminal Fingerprint System. Q: What can I do to speed up my order?
A: The best thing you can do to expedite your order is to fill out all documentation completely and legibly and see that your applicants do the same. Not only will this increase the speed with which results are received, but it will also help ensure that the most accurate results possible are obtained. For more, see Need to Speed Up Your Background Checks? Also, see Proper Employment Background Checks: Patience Now Means Accuracy and Completeness Later. Q: Why do reports sometimes take longer than I expect?
A: The most common reason for Background Check delay is carelessness in filling out and providing to A Matter of Fact the requested information. For more, see Why Do Some Background Checks Take Longer than I Expect? Q: Are there ever mistakes in background checks?
A: Yes! The information in a background check was created, compiled, maintained, searched, and reported by fallible individuals. Consequently, it is important to give the applicant the opportunity to review negative information. If the applicant identifies information in a report that is incomplete or inaccurate, we will re-investigate and furnish the required reports, notifications, etc., at no further charge. Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of Criminal History Databases?
A: There are no true national Criminal History Record repositories or databases. The available databases are compiled from a variety of sources and are notoriously incomplete and out of date. However, databases can be fast, powerful research tools that cover a larger geographical area. When we use a criminal database as a research tool, we verify any database "hits" with the proper local jurisdiction. For more information, see Criminal Database Limitations and 'Nationwide' Criminal Database Check. Q: Does A Matter of Fact maintain a Criminal History, Employment History, or Education History Database?
A: No! The only consumer files we maintain are archived copies of recent background checks. No information from a prior background check is used in a subsequent background check. Each report is compiled separately from fresh research data. Q: Are you a Better Business Bureau accredited business?
A: Yes, we are proud to be a Better Business Bureau accredited business. See Better Business Bureau: A Matter of Fact. Q: Are you a member of NAPBS® (National Association of Professional Background Screeners)?
A: Yes, we were a founding member of NAPBS® (National Association of Professional Background Screeners). See NAPBS member directory: A Matter of Fact.
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