Running a background check has become more common, with landlords and employers checking the criminal and financial histories of potential tenants and employees. Three different types of background checks can be run, depending on what information you require. You will need to get permission from the person you are running a background check on to do this.
What is Background Check Authorization?
Simply put, a background check authorization is a consent given by the person whose history you wish to check. While you are able to access some information without consent, doing so can have legal implications.
What is the Background Check Authorization Form?
The Background Check Authorization Form is a release form that allows you to run a criminal or credit check on the person signing the form. It must have all of the relevant details need to run these searches, including:
- Full name (as well as any maiden names or aliases)
- Current address
- Date of birth
- Social security number
Other information can be asked for by the person requesting the authorization, such as a driver’s license number or address history for the past 5 to 7 years.
Why consent is needed to run a background check
It all comes down to an individual’s privacy. The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) has set rules regarding who is allowed to provide the information that is revealed in credit and criminal history reports, as well as who is allowed to request them, and what reasons for doing so are acceptable. Should a person be rejected for employment or tenancy based on information pulled from these reports, you will need to provide a reason why. If you run the reports without consent, it will have legal ramifications for you.
Types of background checks
There are three types of background checks that can be run; FBI Background, Tenant Background, and Employee Background.
FBI Background Check
An FBI background check will look at a person’s criminal history on a federal level, which can include bank robbery, counterfeiting, or embezzling. This may be required for high-security jobs, visas, or any other situation in which sensitive data will be accessed. Only the person the report is on can request this check, and they will need to send in another form with their fingerprints alongside the background application. The FBI Background Check Form costs $18, and the fingerprint form costs $20.
Tenant Background Check
This check is done by landlords to help them vet good tenants. It will look at the potential tenant’s credit and criminal history, and landlords tend to charge a small fee to run this check.
Employee’s (Criminal) Background Check
This check is done by employers on potential employees. Like a tenant check, this one is done to help vet out good employees. In some states, the person authorizing this check is entitled to have a copy of the report. The employer is the one responsible for covering the cost of running this check.
How to get a background check
Your first step is to choose the type of background check you want to run. You must then fill out an authorization form and have the person whose background you are checking sign it. We have a number of free templates and samples that you can download for each type of check to give you a better understanding of how to use them.
Once you have your written authorization, you can run a background check in one of three ways, depending on which type you are using.
FBI background check – this type of check can only be done by the person the report is for. They will need to download and fill in Forms I-783 and FD-258. Form FD-258 then needs to be taken to a registered LiveScan location or a standard location for fingerprinting. With LiveScan, the fingerprints are electronically submitted to the FBI, whereas with a standard fingerprinting location, you need to mail in 2 copies of Form FD-258, along with Form I-783. It can take 4 to 6 days to receive this type of report or up to 30 days in some cases.
Housing background check – for this check, the landlord will use a third party background check service, such as MySmartMove or VerticalRent. It can take between 30 minutes to three days to receive this report.
Employment background check – for this type of check, the employer can either register an account with their state’s Department of Law Enforcement, or they can go through a third party, such as HireRight to run the check for them. This report can take between 3 days to a week.
Frequently Asked Questions
This depends on the type of check being done, as outlined above. With a tenant background check, it is usually the credit, criminal, and renting history of the person being vetted. Employment checks tend to focus on criminal history at a state level. FBI checks will pull any federal-level crimes.
In most scenarios, it’s five to seven years back that can be viewed for employee and tenant checks. Certain states will have a 7 year cut-off period for criminal checks. For an FBI check, it can go back 10 years.
No. The only person that can request an FBI background check is the individual themselves.
Background checks can be beneficial in a number of circumstances. They help ensure landlords and employers that the person they are hiring or renting to is responsible. It can help employers find employees who will fit in well with the company, and gives a level of security in knowing the person you have hired or rented doesn’t have a criminal history. Just keep in mind that you will need an authorization form to run these checks legally.