HR Management

Different Records Shown During a Fingerprint Background Check

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Fingerprint background checks are popular as part of criminal screenings. They’re also required for some jobs and regulated industries. No two people have the same fingerprints, usually recorded with a unique identifier. But a fingerprint check doesn’t reveal everything. Many myths surround fingerprint background checks. Let’s look at some of the major ones:

Criminal Records

Many companies use fingerprinting and criminal background checks as part of their vetting process, especially for positions that require security clearance or professional licensing. These searches typically include a cross-reference of an applicant’s prints against the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), which contains 70 million criminal and civil records. The problem is that the IAFIS database doesn’t always accurately report arrests. In addition, the 10th Amendment means that states can keep certain information private from the federal government. For example, most states don’t send IAFIS fingerprint records of cases with final dispositions, so employers can get a misleading picture of an employee’s history by searching this database. Plus, IAFIS searches can take weeks to complete. It is compared to the 24-72 hours that name-based background checks can be achieved, making fingerprint-based background checks less effective as a screening method. That’s why companies need to include other sources of criminal record information when evaluating candidates.

Employment Records

Fingerprint background checks are a prescreening process that uses a candidate’s fingerprints to locate criminal records. The most common method involves searching the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). This information can be very useful for employers who must vet candidates for jobs that involve working around children, in finance sectors, or even in roles where an employer will be responsible for vulnerable customers. However, it is important to remember that these searches could be more foolproof and have several weaknesses.

One such weakness is that an arrest may appear on a background check, even if the case was dismissed or resolved with no conviction. It can be problematic for job applicants, as they could get passed over even if they’ve never been charged with a crime or even arrested. A good background check should also include a credit report to assess a candidate’s financial stability. It is particularly helpful for companies hiring someone to handle money and can help them avoid pitfalls like large debts or bankruptcy filings.

Insurance Records

A fingerprint background check typically involves using a candidate’s digitally scanned fingerprint to search a database of criminal records for any matches. It includes the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), which houses 70 million records of people arrested or found guilty of a crime in the US. While fingerprint searches of IAFIS can reveal information that a person was charged or arrested for, they are not necessarily a complete picture. The FBI’s system is only as thorough as the data entered by local law enforcement agencies and courts. It means that a fingerprint-based background check can return incomplete or inaccurate information that could lead to discrimination against individuals protected by the Civil Rights Act. Many employment, licensing and professional certification types require a fingerprint background check. These include teachers, daycare workers, massage therapists and ride services. In those cases, fingerprint background checks are necessary because of state or professional licensing requirements. 

Other Records

A fingerprint background check will reveal any criminal arrests and convictions that match the person’s prints. It may also include misdemeanors, pending charges and acquitted records, but it won’t necessarily fetch every crime ever committed by a person. Fingerprint background checks can be combined with database name searches to verify additional information, such as employment, insurance information and a person’s full name. The FBI maintains a national fingerprint database accessible by law enforcement and designated vetting companies. While some employers require fingerprint background checks of applicants, others make the process voluntary. Regardless of whether an employer requires fingerprints before hiring, candidates should take the opportunity to participate in this thorough and effective vetting procedure. Most notably, fingerprint background checks reveal any record of an individual’s criminal history that might prevent them from getting the job. In addition, certain professions like engineers, doctors and stockbrokers are required by law to undergo a fingerprint background check before applying for a professional license. In these cases, an applicant’s felony convictions will show up in the results.

Vehicle Records

Depending on the state, there may be restrictions on how far back a background check can look for criminal records. For instance, in Hawaii, there is a seven-year limit for felonies and a five-year limit for misdemeanors. There are also restrictions on how a vetting company can obtain fingerprints for a candidate. In some cases, an applicant will need to physically visit a local police department to get their prints scanned. Many organizations run fingerprint-based checks for compliance, safety, or security reasons. There are designated FBI channelers who can help you conduct this type of screening with a seamless and modern candidate experience. 80% of the US population is within a 30-minute drive of a convenient live-scan fingerprinting collection location. 

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