How long does it take for an employer to do a background check?

Written by dmitry rashnitsov
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A new employee or one receiving a promotion to a higher level might be subject to a background check so the employer can review any incidents that occurred in the employee's past that might make the employee ineligible for the job. This helps employers weed out candidates with potentially damaging pasts that could cause embarrassment for the employer.

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How long does it take for an employer to run a background check?

First the employee must consent to a background check by filling out a form that includes his name, Social Security number, date of birth, address and previous addresses for up to five years. This is to insure that when a background check is conducted, the information provided is for the correct person (especially if the employee has a common name).

Once all the necessary paperwork is filled out, the employer will contract with a reputable employment screening company to conduct the check. Many reputable companies belong to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Knowing the employer is using a screener associated with this group can assure a job candidate that he won't become a victim of fraud or identity theft.

Once the consent form is submitted, the results should come back within a week.

What’s in a background check?

The records that employment screening companies review include driving records, vehicle registration, credit reports, criminal records, education records, court records, workers' compensation records; bankruptcy court records, character references and interviews with neighbours, medical records, property records, military records, state licensing records, drug test records, past employment records, personal references, incarceration records and sex offender lists.

Which records must the employer get additional consents to check?

The employer must ask for specific permission to review educational, military and medical records.

Other information an employer cannot use

Some information that is unearthed in a background check cannot be used to discriminate against a job seeker. This includes bankruptcies after 10 years, civil suits, civil judgments, arrest records after seven years, paid tax liens after seven years, accounts placed for collection after seven years and any other negative information (except criminal convictions) after seven years.

How to prepare for a background check

Employees can take some steps to ensure that all information returned in a background check is accurate. They can order a copy of their credit reports, check court and Department of Motor Vehicle records and perform their own background checks. And they can do an Internet search of their names and remove them from any questionable websites.

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