More times than not, employers are unsure of what they need to be looking for when it comes to screening potential employees. It is up to the background screening company to educate them and to tailor to their needs. There are so many different levels of searches out there, from a basic Social Security Number Trace to an Extensive Executive level package. There are basic searches that need to be done at a bare minimum to “play it on the safe side” of screening.
A Basic Package needs to include the following (at minimum):
- National Criminal Database with Alias
- Unlimited County Criminal – Statewide search depending on the reliability of information and Turnaround Time
- National Federal Search (highly recommended)
Let’s Dig In!
With all of the searches out there it is very difficult to decide what you need to run and at the same time knowing what they include or even mean. Breaking it down in layman’s terms is very hard to come by in the pre-employment industry, so this is exactly what we are going to do now, explain what each one of the searches in the basic package means/does/includes.
- National Criminal Database with Alias:
The National Database product is a search based on a combination of name, date of birth and social security number. Using integrated SSN address trace, this search produces an applicant’s address history in addition to accessing all the resources of the National Criminal Record Search for the applicant’s primary name as well as alias names based on the social security number. What information is included in the National Database with Alias search? This powerful tool includes multiple sources consisting of court records, incarceration records, prison/inmate records, probation/parole/release information, arrest data, wants and warrants and/or other proprietary sources. In layman’s terms: County-level offenses (some areas are limited), State level Offenses (again limited depending on the state) Department of Corrections records (have they been in the slammer?) Sex Offender Registries, and Terrorist Watch Lists (does the Government have their eye on your applicant or looking for them?) The National includes many more sources available upon request. The National with Alias is always used strictly as a pointer tool, meaning the information returned is unfiltered and must be verified at the original source.
John E. Smith has “possible hits” returned on the National Database out of Wayne County Michigan. I have “possible hits” in quotes here because I want to emphasize that the charges have not been verified at the original source – which in this case would be the Wayne County Michigan circuit court. The information is completely redacted from the report and Wayne County MI is ordered for manual research. Once the results are returned by our “boots on the ground” researchers, we will adjudicate the National Database reflecting “Verified at County Level”
- Unlimited County Criminal – Statewide search depending on the reliability of information and Turnaround Time:
A Social Security Trace report automatically pre-pulls and searches all counties returned on the SSN Trace for the primary name entered, showing addresses for the past 7 years in counties of residence. There are many areas that the information is not complete or they are still what we like to call “horse and buggy” counties and it could take several additional days to return in comparison to other areas. In those areas, we will recommend our clients to run a statewide search. It is highly recommended to run this search as well as the National with Alias search together. Why you ask? Let me break it down for you…again here comes those Layman’s Terms!
Based on John E. Smith’s social security number, the trace has indicated that he currently lives at 123 ABC Lane in Nowhere Ville, FL. Based on his trace we can also see that he has also lived in Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana and let’s not forget the Wayne MI (the National Database has already flagged a “possible hit” for him out of this county). With the Unlimited County Criminal Search, we are going to be researching every county that is associated with those addresses out of every state listed. The National with Alias is an amazing tool, but it is not foolproof. Some jurisdictions/states do not report to the database. By running the Unlimited County search, we are expanding the searches into where John E. Smith has lived.
- National Federal Search (highly recommended):
Ahhh… now the Federal Search.
It is a common misconception that if a National Database is ran with county-level searches that Federal charges will show up. This is a huge mistake. There are 3 different levels of criminal offenses. County Level, State Level, and Federal Level. County and State level charges will more than likely be returned in the National Database. Federal charges are considered the highest level of offenses and are usually deemed as a Federal offense once the crime committed has crossed state lines. Examples of Federal charges would be mail fraud, aircraft hijacking, carjacking, kidnapping, bank robbery, child pornography, credit card fraud, identity theft, computer crimes, federal hate crimes. We highly recommend running the National Federal Search or the Jurisdictional Federal Search to ensure those Federal crimes are not missed.
Keep It Compliant!
The subject of compliance can be very overwhelming and confusing when looking at a background report. Our team is fully trained and FCRA Certified, so it is our job to take the guess work out for you our client. Many states have restrictions on what information can be released by a Consumer Reporting Agency. If your applicant has known convictions out of CA but they were over 7 years ago, due to the State FCRA Restrictions in place…those charges are not legally reportable. For a full list of the states with restrictions, please contact our compliance department.
Bethany Thompson, Compliance & Audit Manager
DISCLAIMER – MIDWEST BACKGROUNDS, INC. DBA MBI WORLDWIDE CANNOT AND DOES NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE OR COUNSEL. Although MBI strives to support you with alerts and resources regarding critical compliance matters, please understand that MBI Worldwide CANNOT provide legal advice regarding forms, contracts or compliance topics. Nothing in this statement or any other communications with MBI Worldwide should be construed as legal advice. If you have legal questions, please consult with legal counsel, who can best advise you on the legalities of obtaining and using consumer reports.