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What is Checked in a Background Check for Employment?

written by: Ksingh•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 8/12/2010

Employers conduct background check of a job applicant for credit history, criminal record, previous employment details, driving record and social security number to ensure they are appointing persons of integrity.

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    What is Checked in a Background Check

    Most prospective employers are keen to have a background check of candidates and for this reason they cannot be labeled as being distrustful. The fact is that more than 40 percent of resumes received by employers contain distorted or false information. The employers are obviously eager to appoint candidate who really has the credentials he/she claims in the resume.What is Checked in Background Check 

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    Privacy Factor

    The background check information is a consumer report as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Thus an employer, before seeking this type of report, must notify the candidate and obtain his/her prior written consent. This will provide an opportunity to the candidate to withdraw the job-seeking resume.

    Again, if a prospective employer chooses not to employ the candidate on the basis of the report, the employer must send a pre-adverse action notice to the candidate. This notice must be accompanied by a copy of the background check report. Besides, the employer is obliged to state the contact particulars of the Consumer Reporting Agency to enable the candidate to challenge the report.

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    Background Check Particulars

    What is checked in a background check will invariably comprise of the following verifications:

    • Social security number
    • Previous employment history
    • Credit payment records
    • Driving record drunken driving, traffic offenses, etc
    • Criminal background mostly relevant to the job

    Background checks are resorted to by employers particularly when appointing candidates to positions that call for high security or a position that requires probity and trustworthiness. These checks are generally conducted by a government agency, but there are also private companies that undertake this task, for a reasonable fee.

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    Background Check Restrictions

    A candidate cannot be disqualified because the person had filed for bankruptcy. More so, because, bankruptcies are open to public and hence easy for employers to access the information.

    Legally speaking, there are some restrictions when checking a person’s criminal history. Some states disallow checking about arrests or convictions beyond some prescribed limits and permit checking criminal history for certain select positions only.

    Driving records are however not deemed confidential and can be obtained without the candidate’s consent.

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    I-9 Employment Verification Form

    When applying for a new job, the onus is on the employees to establish they are legally permitted to serve in the United States. Employers must also verify the identity as well as the eligibility to work of a prospective employee.

    In fact, the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (familiarly known as Form I-9) duly filled-in must be retained by the employer. Employees must submit original copies of all appropriate documents pertaining to identity and employment eligibility. The only exception can be the birth certificate – for which an attested copy should suffice.

    It is critically important that a candidate states all facts accurately and truthfully in his/her resume and not distort facts or provide false information. It is worthwhile to visit the website of the Labor Department and ascertain what information a prospective employer can check. If there are any shortcomings, it is better to be candid as all employers will appreciate an upfront confession than detecting facts through background check.

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