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What Are Background Checks?

Background checks are often a tool used by potential employers to learn about an individual’s history. In short, these are checks of the activities in the open public about the person. The scope of these checks is changing and in some cases, employers are using various tools aside from just criminal background checks to learn about individuals. In doing so, the potential employer is able to determine if the individual is a good fit for the company, or if he or she may not be. The past actions of the individual are used as an indication of what his or her future is likely like.


There are many forms of background checks. Some contain more information than others do. In the most basic form, a person’s Social Security number, name, address and other identifying information is added into a database. That database will scan the Internet and other resources to determine if there are any notations about the individual. This information can then be used to make a hiring decision about the individual as long as that hiring individual is within the letter of the law (discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion or other such aspects is not allowable.)


Employment background checks often contain a criminal background check component. In this instance, information about the individual’s criminal history is determined. A company hiring an individual to work in management will not wish to hire someone convicted of embezzlement, for example. This type of criminal background check is able to provide information about a person’s convictions, arrests and the type of charge, misdemeanor or felony. It may also provide information about the type of criminal activity.


In many states, the individual who wishes to gather a background check on an individual must first obtain written consent from that individual to gather information. For example, many employers are required to obtain a written waiver that gives the potential employer the right to perform a background check. This is due to the limitations on privacy many states have. In those states with closed records, background checks may provide significantly less information. Conversely, states with open records may have information available to the public for any public record including birth, death, divorce, marriage, property ownership and criminal activities.


Background checks may provide a significant amount of information about a person. For that reason, individuals may wish to run a background check on him or herself at some point. This is especially beneficial in situations where the individual has been charged with a crime and proven innocent. To ensure this information is accurate, check it. If there are errors, to fix them, the individual will need to seek out the reporting agency.


Not just one database contains all criminal and personal records. For this reason, background checks are very helpful. They help to combine various databases into one report that is easy to read and understand. Employers are not the only ones that can use these types of records, though. Those entering into a contract agreement with a lease or business transaction may also wish to gather this information.

One Response to What Are Background Checks?

  1. Interesting piece, thanks for spending the time to write it. I like the direction you are taking your blog. Ill be bookmarking your site in order to keep up in the future. Hope to see more posts soon.

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