Given the current state of the economy, more Americans are job hunting than at any other time in recent history. As a part of the process, many are subject to a background check before they are offered the position. Everyone one must provide written consent – but not all companies require the background check before an interview. Some must even consent to it before being offered an interview.
If you’re concerned about what may be reported on such a personal background check, it’s important to consider that a few items may not be included in the report.
As set forth under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), a background check will not include information on bankruptcies that you have filed more than ten years prior to the date the report was compiled. Additionally, information about civil suits and the resulting civil judgments, as well as arrest records, will not appear if they are more than seven years old.
Your credit history will report your current accounts, past due accounts, accounts that have been sent to collections, but accounts older than seven years will not be included in your personal background check. Likewise, tax liens that are seven years or older will not be included in the report either, nor will your credit score be provided.
At one time, the FCRA mandated that criminal conviction records could only be reported on background check reports up to seven years from the date of disposition or conviction. However, a recent change to the Fair Credit Reporting Act now allows criminal conviction information to be reported on your background check indefinitely. There are a few individual state exceptions to this particular reporting law. For instance, California, Nevada, and New Mexico have a NO EXCEPTION rule that limits consumer reporting agencies from reporting criminal convictions on a consumer’s background check report that are older than seven years. In addition, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington have a seven-year reporting limitation unless you meet the salary requirements set by those particular states.
Other Things to Consider
While it helps to know what cannot be included in a personal background check report when job hunting, that information alone should not ease your worries about what potential future employers will be able to learn about you by pulling a background check.
The only way to truly ensure that your past doesn’t haunt you without your consent is to pull a personal background check on yourself and review each item that appears on the report before it is ordered or provided to a prospective employer. Make sure that each item is accurately and correctly reported as errors due occur and are a possibility.
Always keep in mind that, erroneous or not, the items on your background check report could hurt your chances of landing a job. That’s why it’s important to constantly monitor things like your background check information, credit report and tax filings, as well as stay away from arrests and nefarious civil judgments.
The most qualified candidate will get the job — and in this case, the most qualified candidate is one who thinks ahead and does the appropriate research.