Many employers assume that their pre-employment background checks include all criminal records associated with the applicant in question, but did you know that no criminal database exists that covers the entire country. Even the “FBI files” only have about fifty percent of all crimes in the country. Further, the original source of all crimes is typically the county courthouse criminal record. Of most importance, the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) requires that any record found in a criminal database be verified by the original source, i.e., a county criminal records search, before any adverse action can be taken.

While certain crimes are uncovered by “national” multi-jurisdictional criminal databases, county records provide the more factual and comprehensive look at an individual’s past, helping you, as the employer, protect your customers, employees, brand, and bottom line. Additionally, public records databases are often outdated and omit important information that could put your business at risk.

Businesses and organizations that do not properly screen applicants can be found to be negligent and subject to costly consequences. Whether it is a non-profit with a predatory volunteer, a medical facility with an applicant that is a dangerous convicted felon, or a school hiring a person with serious criminal convictions, companies and organizations are well advised to properly vet individuals that are allowed to become associated with them.

Unfortunately, too many background screening companies employ substandard methods to provide low-cost and rapid county criminal search results. Many background screening companies use inferior screen scraping technology to obtain often-incorrect criminal record information that is available to anyone on the web, even though these searches cannot act as a substitute for an actual county courthouse records search. This information should not be used as a substitute for a thorough background search of official public records.

A company’s best defense against liability is to perform a thorough background check by a reliable background screening company that conducts comprehensive searches at the county level. By performing thorough and compliant background checks, companies and organizations can defend themselves against being negligent, whether in a court of law, in front of a television or newspaper reporter, or in viral social media.


Posted by: Rudy Troisi, L.P.I., President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening

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