Resource Center | Background Checks | Article

“Six Items in a Comprehensive Background Check”

Paul Marcus, Private Investigator

We all know that a comprehensive background check will save us from horrible mistakes like hiring an ax-murderer in the HR department.

But we know it’s not as simple as all that. We can’t just tell you “screen your employees well!” and then let you at it. There are hundreds of options out there when it comes to screening. And while the internet has given us better and more reliable checking methods, it’s also given anyone on the street the ability to hawk their cheap imitation as a “professional” background check.

What’s an employer to do?

In this post, I want to go into detail on what a real comprehensive background check includes, so you’ll know what you’re getting and what information it will give you.

  1. First things first, you’ll need a release and waiver form signed by the applicant. This just gives you permission to run a consumer report on them.
  2. Next is a social security number trace. The point of this check is to gather information for later. It won’t be able to tell you if your applicant actually holds the social security number they gave, but it will tell you whether the number’s a real one and all the places the holder has lived.
  3. The next step is to run a multi-state or multi-jurisdiction alias search, which will bring up records on anyone using that Social Security number. If a hit comes up in this report, that hit must be checked in the local jurisdiction where it happened, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Disclaimer: some companies will advertise these searches as “national.” They’re not. They can’t cover every jurisdiction in the country, and not all jurisdictions will provide you with the same type of information.
  4. The most important step, drumroll please, is to run searches in every jurisdiction the person has lived in the past seven years. This search should be run under the names listed in the social trace, as well as any other names you know this person has gone by. This step is important because the criminal justice system begins at the county level, and that’s where records are stored. In case you’re still not convinced, up to 90 % of all criminal acts are committed in the criminal’s county of residence.
  5. There are a couple of other searches that can be done at a statewide level, namely a state repository search and a state court search.  We’d recommend the state court search, because the state repository search could be missing important information that counties haven’t reported yet.
  6. The final part of a good criminal package is the federal criminal records search.  This search will check for people who may have had charges brought against them in the federal court system.  The kinds of charges that could show up here include weaponry, drug, and monetary offenses. This search has to be run as a stand alone, because it won’t show up on a state, county, or multi-jurisdictional search.

That’s it, just six steps. I hope that made the whole process seem a little less overwhelming. If your background check covers all of these areas, you can rest assured that you’ve run a thorough search on your applicant. If you’re looking for the perfect search to meet these criteria, contact Marcus Background Investigations and we’ll set you up!