Q:

How far back does a background check go?

A:

Quick Answer

The depth of a background check depends on the type of information being sought, the policies of the record-keeping organization or agency and the parameters established by the person or entity who is conducting the search. The Fair Credit Reporting Act has established limits on the length of background search records for certain types of data. For example, bankruptcy records can be discovered through background checks for 10 years, while arrest records are only made available for the 7 years prior to the record search.

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Full Answer

The standard for most types of data in background checks is 7 years. However, the limit can be increased for job applicants in certain positions, such as those in the law enforcement, finance and education industries. This is because employers want to ensure they are hiring safe, responsible workers.

Aside from bankruptcies, the 7-year standard also applies to credit checks. This is true for delinquencies and debts referred to collections by the creditor.

Employment-screening background checks can extend all the way to the applicant's high school to verify educational claims. For example, an employer can obtain records to determine whether a candidate achieved a certain degree or diploma.

The same rules that apply to background checks for employees also apply to record searches for prospective tenants and other arrangements.

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