What are the different ways to get a background check?
Getting a background check is becoming a common requirement in many, if not all, companies and organizations. The most common reason you’ll need a background check is when applying for a new job or volunteering. Almost all government entities require this to be done to ensure a safe working environment; the main industries are education, finance, law enforcement, and security, healthcare and medicine.
Other reasons include foreign adoption, applying for certificates, licenses (like a driver’s license or real estate license), permits, handling weaponry, immigration, etc. So as you can see, at some point in our lives, we’re all going to be required to get a background check done, of some sort.
But firstly, what is a background check?
A background check is a government review of your criminal, educational, and financial records in addition to your employment history. It is mostly focused on defining any criminal acts done in the past but doesn’t necessarily include all the other aspects, unless using a certain form.
For example, you’d need to get a CACI clearance (child abuse central index) if you’re working as a teacher or with kids and you’ll need a firearm clearance if you’re a security guard or working with weaponry. For employment, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) defines what appears in an applicant’s background check. Employers are subject to certain laws before reviewing any consumer report in the case of new hirings, so it is not the same for every company.
A background check depends on many factors like state laws, company regulations, job position, etc. but it is overall a method to ensure the protection of the employer and employees. There are a few ways to get a background check done, the most accurate being through live scan fingerprinting. Other reasons for needing a background check include:
- Eases the hiring process by creating a filter before the interview, eliminating applicants that have a criminal history or lie on their applications
- Verifies the employee’s information, it’ll display educational degrees, previous jobs, this will help the business owner identify any false info or exaggeration on the applicant’s resume
- Protects the company’s interest by maintaining a good reputation with a thorough screening process as well as protects the business against liability issues or potential lawsuits. For example, hiring a teacher with a child abuse history or a doctor with a violent record can cause trouble and will backfire on the employer.
- Business owners save resources, time, and effort by making the right hire the first time around. A poorly-chosen employee will lead to money loss in the future (whether from lawsuits, fraud, or hiring someone new later).
A background check is a procedure recommended for large and small businesses, because the negative consequences that impact both businesses, no matter the size, are similar.
How to get a background check done?
- Do your own research:
Employers can take initiative from their end and conduct their own searches online, this wouldn’t, of course, tell you if the applicant has a criminal record but it’ll give you an idea of the applicant’s behavior outside of work. You can use social media as a tool to do your search, and check their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Another thing you can do is a character reference check, by asking the applicant for references like their previous managers, coworkers, etc. This will help you verify past employment and let you know what the applicant’s work ethic is like, heir past accomplishments, likability, etc. However, even if you do your own research, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need a government clearance too to ensure the new ire wouldn’t be trouble for your business or employees.
- Hire a third-party search agency:
There are many third-party (nongovernmental) agencies online that advertise an “instant background check”, this doesn’t mean they can get the info you need instantly, this just means they’ll conduct a search through their database and inform you what they’ve found. He database these agencies use is public data they get from statewide court and correction records, law enforcement records, or a county criminal search.
However, this data is usually inaccurate as it is incomplete or outdated and not from the government directly. You can use this method as a backup if you’d like to the government background check but not the main technique. Also, some of these agencies actually charge higher than a government entity would get the background check done. So before you decide on this, look into the companies out there and choose wisely.
- Ink fingerprinting:
This is the most common method to get a background check done, and it is by getting your fingerprints inked into a standard FD-258 ink card. You shouldn’t get the card and use an ink pad to get it done yourself; you should visit a local sheriff’s office, police station, notary office, or fingerprinting office where professionals can do this for you.
The ink card will cost around $25 (this is excluding mailing expenses, service fee, or redo’s if needed). You get your fingerprints onto the card then you mail it out yourself to the FBI, the address is available on the card. Unfortunately, this method isn’t the best because if the fingerprints are smudged, you’ll need to redo the whole process. It generally takes around 2 months for the FBI to send back the results so if you’re on a time limit, this option wouldn’t help much. You can also only get the FBI clearance through this not the state clearance, CACI, or firearm. The employer will inform you how to get the background check done, whether they need it through ink fingerprinting or live scan.
- Live Scan Fingerprinting:
Live scan fingerprinting is the safest and accurate way to get a background check done because it is an electronic and inkless process. Using an electronic scanner, the live scan operator will easily capture your fingerprints and electronically send it out to the DOJ and FBI.
The process costs from $50 to $70, depending on the clearances you need (this includes the transaction fee, service fee, and government fee). The employer will directly receive the results from the government within 3 to 4 business days, which is great if you’re in a rush and need it for work. Many companies and organizations would request applicants to do a live scan because it’s faster and more accurate. In order to find the nearest live scan location to you, you can search here using your zip code or city. Refer back to your employer about getting a request for a live scan form.
Quick Tip! You can do it yourself.
An employer needs the applicant’s approval to get a background check done so without that, none of this is possible. If you want to check out what will appear on your record yourself before it, you can get a record review live scan and have the results sent to you. However, it’ll only be the DOJ check, not the FBI, so the state clearance only. But it is a good way to review your record yourself before sending it out to employers.