What Shows Up On a Background Check?

Finding a job has never been more complex. Employers often have a long list of demands and rivalry amongst hires is high. Now with background checks being often requested, job searches have become harder.

This is from the stance of the employee. But what about the employer?

Delving into the history of job candidates makes for a better evaluation. It allows employers to confirm details collected. It also reveals what may be vital yet hidden.

So what shows up on a background check? There are many types of background checks that employers can ask for.

What Shows Up On a Background Check

There are third-party companies with access to multiple relevant databases contracted for this purpose. These can include court records, driving records, and credit reports. The more detailed the check requested, the costlier it will be.

At the most basic level, employers are interested in criminal background checks. But more on this later.

While background checks are often considered during hiring, this is not the only area they arise. They are also often requested when looking for housing and purchasing guns.

It is key for anyone pursuing these to know what it entails. But before we discuss further what background checks are, let’s consider why they are needed.

Reasons for Background Checks

As mentioned, background checks are good for confirming the details provided. When applying for a job, candidates will fill out forms and provide a resume. Employers need to know that the data provided is true.

Background checks allow for this confirmation. It is vital given that many people do falsify details to make themselves appear the better candidate.

Another reason is to discover hidden facts. Those with a criminal past will often not divulge such details. More so when the crime relates to the type of job being applied for.

These inquiries help confirm the honesty of job candidates. An applicant is more likely to be hired when they are open with the truth.

They are less likely to be hired if they hide it. Then and it is revealed through a background check.

This is why it is highly recommended to always be truthful when applying for a job. Even if you may not secure the job, it will impart a good impression.

With a check, an employer can ensure they are not placing their business at risk. For instance, by hiring someone convicted of fraud to work on finances. It can also be a work safety issue, especially when dealing with violent and sexual offenders.

Landlords will likely be interested in a credit history check. This will tell them how fiscally responsible a potential tenant is likely to be.

Banks also ask for a similar check to ensure the loan being applied for will be paid. Someone with a history of bad debt would be a bad risk. Thus not likely to have their loan approved.

The Gun Control Act strips those with felonies of the right to bear arms. For this reason, gun dealers are required to perform a background check before closing gun sales.

Laws Governing Background Checks

Two main laws deal with background checks. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) touches on credit reporting issues. Credit reports can include such data as a history of bounced checks, medical records, and rental history.

The FCRA only permits access to these records from interested parties. And when they have valid reasons.

Employers must acquire the job applicant’s consent to gain access. You will likely be asked to sign a consent form at some point along the hiring process.

People are entitled to a free annual report. It is ideal to use this to monitor your creditworthiness.

If there is any discrepancy, you can then act quickly to have it corrected. Then your report can be updated.

Other regulations are from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This authority provides rules that prohibit employers from discriminatory hiring practices.

Everyone should be treated equally. Regardless of sex, race, religion, disability, or age.

Employers are free to carry out background checks. But they are not to use the info to make unethical personnel decisions. The EEOC requires that the third party companies being used to run checks comply with FCRA.

Types of Background Checks

What Shows Up On a Background Check Type

As said, there are different kinds of background checks. They can vary in terms of the type of data sought. They can also differ in terms of how broad an enquiry is desired.

Here we will look at some of the common types of background checks and what data they share.

Criminal Background Check

This check is done to find out what, if any, criminal past a person has. Most often requested by employers, it looks at what crimes a person has been convicted of. It can also provide details on arrest records and pending criminal cases.

This relates to both felony and misdemeanor offenses committed while an adult. Juvenile offenses are typically sealed and thus do not appear during searches.

In some states, there is expiry to such discovery. Some only permit disclosure of convictions that are less than seven or ten years old.

This search is however not just restricted to state or federal courts. These checks can also look at county criminal records, global terror lists, and national criminal databases.

Checking sex offender registries is also a must. This can be especially important for jobs that deal with vulnerable people. Those that have children, seniors, and the disabled must perform this check.

There are also different levels of criminal background checks. Level 1 checks involve just a state-only and name-based check. Level 2 checks involve state and national fingerprint-based checks.

Traffic infractions do not typically appear on criminal background checks. If the offense is however more serious and results in criminal charges, it should appear as a felony or misdemeanor. This can often happen in cases such as DUIs and vehicular manslaughter.

An employer may however request for driving records. This may be relevant to jobs that involve driving like trucking.

Credit History Check

What Shows Up On a Background Check Credit

In a credit background check, a person’s creditworthiness is reported on. There is an exam of their credit to debt ratio and how they manage obligations like rent payment.

This report is often asked for by lenders, landlords, and some employers. More so when the job being applied for is senior or finance related. A person with bad debts and poor credit scores may be deemed a bad risk.

Employers offering finance jobs will be wary of hiring someone tempted to steal to cover their debts.

The details can include unpaid bills in collection, bankruptcies, civil judgments, and more. This report requires signed consent from the person. Alternatively, you may be asked to request your credit report and grant third party access.

Universal Background Check

As mentioned, when purchasing a gun, there are mandatory background checks to be done. Gun dealers have access to what is known as the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). They can quickly use this to perform a check before any final sale.

This has helped prevent many felons from accessing firearms. A right they lose under the Gun Control Act upon conviction. The only exception to this is private party transactions in certain states.

FBI Background Check

This is carried out on those seeking federal jobs. It can also be done on companies looking to provide services or products to federal agencies.

This is a highly detailed report. It tracks any interaction with all law enforcement agencies. Specifically, those that share their criminal data with the FBI.

This report can include such data as arrests, convictions, immigration, and traffic offenses.

The check is done through fingerprint checking. The fingerprint is input in the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). This not only brings up criminal links, but also past job screenings.

Fingerprint Background Check

A fingerprint-based check refers to any search that uses this source of ID. Because no two people can share the same print, there is the assurance of authenticity.

Fingerprint searches can vary depending on the databases being tapped into for info. The FBI background check is an example of a fingerprint background check. It delves into the FBI criminal databases.


When submitting a resume, you will have given your educational background. Some also attach their school certificates.

This confirms if a potential job candidate has the relevant training and academic background. Since these records are not often fingerprint-based, checkers are careful to note discrepancies.

A check is done with the records of any high school, college, university, or vocational school. Details looked into include dates of enrollment, attendance, specific degree attained, and graduation date.

FCRA requires that employers seek an applicant’s consent to carry out this check. It is an exam that complies with federal, state, industry, and local regulations.

Work History

Just as with academic background checks, this works off of claims in the resume. The checker will verify such details as the place of work and the duration.

They may also look into why a person left that job. Any incidents of theft or violence will likely be of interest to a new employer.

Since many work references are previous employers, it is also a chance to seek opinions. A previous employer will be able to confirm or deny if the person makes for a good hire.

Professional License

The first issue is to confirm that the applicant does indeed have a valid license. These licenses are credentials that confirm that the holder has the crucial training, and skill for the work. Jobs that often require licensing include teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, accountants, and various home contractors.

The next concern is that the license holder is in good standing. This means there should be no suspensions, restrictions, or violations pending. These checks are normally done through the relevant state or industry licensing board.

For those that work in healthcare, there is also the Office of Inspector General (OIG) background check. This is where a sanctions list of individuals and entities that have committed healthcare-related crimes is kept.

Such crimes can include patient abuse, Medicaid fraud, and offenses related to controlled substances. These offenses can be either felonies or misdemeanors. The Inspector General’s office can also list an offender for defaulting on their health education loan.

Before any healthcare provider hires an employee or contracts a firm, they must carry out this check. It is a simple and free check that can be done online. You merely need to input the name of the person or firm.

This check is key in protecting patients and other employees. For employers, there are also liability issues to be worried about. If employers fail to conduct this check, they risk the pain of civil monetary penalties.


As long as you plan on looking for a job, background checks are certain. Even those that operate their own businesses may at times be subject to this probing.

It is ideal to run a personal background check to be aware of what employers will discover. This will in turn prepare you to reveal this info early. Being honest and open is a good way to mitigate a bad report.

It gives a chance to explain and take responsibility. With millions already having felony records, employers cannot afford to entirely dismiss this group. But to enhance your chances, you should be truthful from the onset.

Know that while employers may want to give second chances, they have to mitigate risks. They must factor in the chances of a potential employee re-offending. They also have to consider the safety of their other employees and customers.

Job candidates with records should carefully consider what jobs they are applying for. It is best to target jobs whose duties do not relate with the offenses they committed.

Leave a Comment

error: Content is protected !!