5 Criminal Searches Every HR Professional Should Know

Nick Fishman

Criminal Records Search

How much do you really know about criminal background checks? Whether you know a little or a lot, the best place to start the conversation is by defining the different types of criminal records searches available. And while there are some criminal record searches that are more revealing than others, they all play an important role developing a comprehensive background check.  So the question is, where do you start? While the screening package might vary by job candidate, there are some fundamentals to know for any criminal background check.

A county criminal record search is the most tried and true source for finding criminal records. And in our experience, national or statewide criminal record checks are not a full compilation of all criminal records that could exist, nor can they guarantee that you have found what you’re looking for. However, a county search goes directly to the source of the criminal record. Before a county criminal records search has even commenced, the Social Security Number Trace (often referred to as an “Address History Search”) will determine:

1. If there are additional alias names associated with the candidate.

2. Addresses and therefore, counties where the person has lived.

Based on this information, the background screener will run a county criminal records search, which will seek out records in any of the known counties of residence. Verifying with the name, date of birth and social security number, the background screener is able to confirm whether or not a criminal record belongs to the candidate. Understanding this, you can easily come to the conclusion that the county search is the most reliable for finding criminal records.

Of course, I won’t mislead you to believe that there aren’t additional means for discovering a criminal record, particularly if it’s believed the candidate has a record elsewhere. In this instance, I’m hinting at the Federal Criminal Court Record Search. For this search, the employer will most likely have at least an inkling that there could be a record there. The records housed in a federal court include tax evasion, embezzlement, bank robbery, kidnapping, mail fraud and other federal statute violations. If an applicant has a record that includes any of those, there would not be a record of it in a state or county database.

You’ve probably at least heard of the national criminal record check, but do you know what this database consists of? The national database includes records from a variety of sources from all over the United States, including but not limited to County Court Houses, State Departments of Incarcerations, State Record Repositories, Probation Departments, Townships and Sex Offender Registries. You might be thinking, Great! My search is done, just order those for all job candidates. Not so fast. Yes, this national database might include some of the criminal records you’re looking for, BUT you should not put all of your background checks in one basket. Because this source is not all-inclusive, don’t rely solely on this source when conducting a criminal background check, but rather utilize it as a complementary source.

Another often utilized search is the statewide criminal record search. This search focuses in on a particular state’s database, which you would order based on where the job candidate has lived. However, not all 50 states in the U.S. allow access to their criminal record directories. In addition, even the states that do make it available might not have the most updated information on record. Much like the National Criminal Records Database, the statewide criminal databases should be used as a complement to a county criminal record search. As a source EmployeeScreenIQ recommends as a best practice, let’s dive into how a county criminal record search is brought into play.

Another often thought of method for a criminal background check is fingerprinting. When an applicant’s fingerprints are taken for the background check and the FBI database is searched for criminal records, there is no guarantee that a criminal record, even if it exists, will be discovered. The FBI database, as recent reports have further revealed, is not a complete database and does not have the most up-to-date records. Not only this, but because the records are not up-to-date, it’s possible that if a record is found, it might not be correct.

For more information on types of criminal background checks, download our article:








Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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