For many employers, using a background check before hiring a potential employee is standard practice. It gives you a picture of the person you are looking to hire and can help you vet out those with less than good histories. To do this, however, you need to get authorization from the prospective employee.
A background check looks at a person’s private and public records, which includes criminal history, credit history, employment history, driving and medical records, and work authorization. Depending on what information you need, there are a few types of reports that an employer can request.
While not every employer will request a background check, these are most often needed in jobs where you will be handling finances, sensitive information, or property. About 84% of background checks are done to look at criminal history, 72% for employment history, and 67% for identity purposes.
What is a Background Check Authorization Form?
It is a form that an employer must use to be granted permission by the employee to run a background check on them. While you can get some information about a person without their consent, it is illegal to do so. The form requires the person’s signature, and it needs to state what you will be checking into (i.e., criminal history, financial history, etc.)
We have several templates and samples that you can download for free to help you understand what is needed for these forms.
How to get a pre-employment background check
You will first need the potential employee’s authorization to run a background check using the form mentioned above. The way will require some information, such as full name, date of birth, social security number, address, and driver’s license number.
Once you have consent, you will need to choose a background check service. This can be done in two ways:
State-Run Background Check: This will require a fee and registration with Secretary of State. All states will allow a company to run criminal background checks through them. This option can also cost less than option 2.
Third-Party: While this option can be quicker, it tends to be more expensive, ranging between $30 to $90. Examples of third party companies are GoodHire and HireRight.
A background check can take from 3 days to a week depending on which service you use.
Running a background check without authorization
FCRA law has specific guidelines regarding obtaining and using background checks. Before any employer can run a background check on a person, they must have written authorization from that person to do so. Doing otherwise puts the employer in violation of FCRA laws that protect consumers’ rights against illegal checks.
If you choose not to hire a person based on the information on a background check that was not authorized, a legal claim can be made against you, as the employer.
Frequently Asked Questions
The majority of background checks are done within 3-days to a week. If you are running an FBI check, this can take up to 30-days.
What you look for from a background check depends on the criteria you need. Most employers will look at criminal history, credit history, education and employment history, and any details that seem inconsistent to them.
Most employers will look as far back as five years, and in some states, the cut off is seven years.
A pre-employment background check is a great way to help you vet the right candidates for your business but must be done the right way. Always be sure you have authorization from the person whose background history you wish to look at.