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How Far Back Does a Background Check Go?

PSI Team | Uncategorized

How Far Back Does a Background Check Go?

Employers strive to create a safe, trustworthy work environment, and comprehensive background checks play an important role in their ability to create such spaces. Understanding the depth of background checks is important for employers and potential candidates.

Factors such as the nature of the job, state laws, and the type of check play a role in determining how far back a background check goes. The temporal scope of background checks is not universal; it’s a complex web of variables that differ case by case.

What Is a Background Check?

A background check is a company’s process to verify that a person is who they claim to be. It provides an opportunity to check and confirm the validity of someone’s criminal record, education, employment history, and other activities from their past. This is especially necessary in industries that deal with sensitive information or access restricted data.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act and Background Checks

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is essential in determining the duration and reach of a background check. According to FCRA, a conviction can appear on a background report regardless of when it occurred. However, not all states adhere to FCRA limitations. Several states only allow a 7-year history, particularly in cases where the candidate’s annual salary is less than $75,000.

Employment Verification

Employment verification services are an integral part of verifying the authenticity of a candidate’s employment history. They render a detailed account of a candidate’s past work history. However, different states have distinct laws that determine how far back these checks can go. Employers commonly check the last 7 years of employment history, although some states allow a 10-year history check.

The Role of Salary in Background Checks

Salaries also vary between states and determine how far back a background check goes. In California, Colorado, and a few other states, the limit of a 7-year or 10-year background check doesn’t apply when an applicant could potentially earn a salary of over $125,000 per year. This is mainly because the stakes are significantly higher for these positions, and employers must be extra cautious to ensure they hire the right candidate.

The Impact of Criminal Convictions on Background Checks

Criminal convictions are a critical aspect of background checks. Many states have a 7-year limit for checking criminal history. However, some states, like New York, disregard this time limit for jobs paying over $25,000 annually. However, states like California do not allow the use of criminal history in hiring decisions.

In conclusion, the extent of a background check depends on several factors, including the laws of individual states, salary, and the nature of criminal convictions. It’s essential for employers to stay updated on these regulations in their respective states to ensure legal and ethical hiring practices.