Background check is the process of assessing and compiling the criminal, commercial and financial records of a person or an organization. In United States the Fair Credit Reporting Act can guide employers in conducting background checks. The background checks are mostly used by employers during the hiring process.
The government agency and some registered private organizations can carry out the background investigation on behalf of the employer after a contract. The main purpose of background investigation is to reduce the chances of insider threat. Background investigation can also be a basis of confirming that the applicants of a job have given truthful information in their application.
The state laws as well as the federal laws requires mandatory background checks on some occupations especially those involving carrying of a weapon, interacting with vulnerable population or driving a vehicle. Background checks is also common for people being hired to occupy positions of authority in large companies. Background checks can also be conducted by a financial institution prior to lending money to customers.
Recruitment if new employees is a very costly process and can as well pose risk to the organization if not done correctly. Background checks may pose some additional cost in the short-term but be very rewarding in the long-term. People without any criminal record are likely not to engage in any form of crime even after they have been hired.
government agency tests and the commercial background investigations are the two main categories of test that can be requested by the employers. The checks by FBI uses the criminal records collected by the law enforcement agencies and then compares them against the fingerprints of the applicants. Commercial background checks primarily rely on information of the individual and scrutinizes its validity by comparing it with the records by the police or court both at the state and federal level.
One of the advantage of FBI checks is that it cannot be falsified. FBI records have a limitation in that even when the crime committed by the applicant was not serious it will take a longer time to investigate.
The background checks by the private vendors does not put any demands on the applicants to give their fingerprints. Commercial vendor give their reports after a shorter time compared to the government agency. However, these reports by commercial vendors are susceptible to false results.
The other shortcoming is that the background check information given by these vendors vary in accuracy based on their level of expertise. Employers should therefore be prudent when contracting either a government agency or a commercial vendor to do a background check on the recruits.