Many online sites offer an inexpensive “national criminal records search”, which purports by its title to be national in scope. In reality, the only “national” criminal record search is maintained by the FBI and is not available for public or private researchers. Recent reports from the National Employment Law Project state that even that database is full of errors and inconsistencies. There is no central repository for federal, state and local criminal records that is available to employers.
An employer can elect to conduct their background checks themselves; however, the amount of time it would take for one manager to familiarize themselves with the complex maze of legislation covering this topic would be prohibitive. In addition, adherence to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines alone could fill one full time position, depending on the volume of background checks performed.
Arrest records, records that extend beyond reporting period scope, sealed or special disposition cases, and deferred adjudications may not be considered when screening applicants in most cases.
Additionally, if you are a national employer, maintaining compliance in a multi-state environment may prove to be nearly impossible. That is why many employers elect to use a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), or pre- employment screening provider.
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