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Is the background check done yet?





Is the background check done yet? Nobody in HR likes to hear this question and they certainly don’t want to be asking it either. A background check has become a necessary part of the hiring process but companies want the background check completed as quickly as possible so they can fully onboard their candidates.

An average background check takes 24 to 72 hours, depending on types of searches included.

Consumer Reporting Agencies (background check companies) offer numerous search types with virtually unlimited combinations. How long it takes a background check to finish processing will be determined by the types and number of searches being executed. Naturally, a more granular background check often takes longer than a basic background check. Let’s take a look at some average turnaround times.

SSN Trace & Address History Search: Instant

The Social Security Number Trace is the starting point for every background check. Using a person’s name and date of birth, it provides residential history, aliases and other relevant data like when the Social Security Number was issued. The issue date is helpful because if the number was issued before your candidate was born, you know you are not looking at a record for your candidate.The SSN Trace information information is used to help qualify information revealed in criminal database searches and the residential address history enables a screening company to perform a county criminal search in counties where the applicant lived. 

Criminal Database Searches: Instant

The Nationwide Criminal Database Search, also called a “National Sweep” or “Nationwide Review” or “NationScreen,” or “Criminal SuperSearch” is a multi-jurisdictional compilation of criminal records from participating states and counties across the US.

Though “National” in scope, the data is compiled from multiple public record data sources and is NOT an entire compilation of all criminal records from all states.

Some state and county courts upload criminal records to databases infrequently and some never upload criminal records to databases. There are no laws requiring courts to upload criminal records to any databases.

The Nationwide Criminal Database product does not substitute for a courthouse search of criminal records (County Criminal Search).

There are other criminal database search products like statewide criminal databases, federal criminal databases, sex offender registry databases and terrorist watch list databases.

People should exercise caution when using a criminal database search because they contain many imperfections that can lead to inaccurate results.

Whenever records are being entered into criminal databases by people at the courthouse, sometimes the information is entered incorrectly, which can produce a “false positive” based on an incorrect name match or incorrect date of birth match.

Also, criminal record information from database searches is often abbreviated or incomplete, making it impossible to fully decipher. 

For these reasons, a user should always independently verify the accuracy of a criminal database record by ordering the county criminal record on file with the reporting juridiction. 

The industry Best Practice for obtaining a person’s criminal history follows:

1) Find out which counties the applicant has lived in using the SSN Trace & Address History Search.

2) Conduct an in-person courthouse search (performed by an experienced court researcher) for criminal records in the applicant’s existing and past counties of residence.

3) Conduct criminal database searches (i.e., Nationwide Criminal Database Search, Statewide Criminal Database Search, 50-State Sex Offender Registries Search, Federal Crimes Search) to detect possible criminal activity in counties other than where the applicant has lived.

4) Independently verify any criminal record “hits” returned from a database search by manually ordering the criminal record on file from the reporting jurisdiction.

Please find below a couple articles describing the risks associated with using criminal database searches as a stand-alone tool in trying to discover a person’s criminal history.

Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM ) Article

ABC News Article

County Criminal Record Search: One to Two Days

SafestHires combines a nationwide network of court researchers with electronic courthouse integrations to ensure the fastest turnaround time in America when it comes to county criminal searches.

A county criminal search is designed to reveal felony and misdemeanor criminal records. If there is no “name match”, most of these searches clear within 24 to 48 hours. About 75% of all county criminal background checks meet this threshold.

If a name match is discovered, it can take an additional 24- 48 hours to cull through all of the available information to make sure the record actually belongs to your candidate. 

In a country with more than 300 million people, numerous people share name and date of birth. To demonstrate this, we searched the name and date of birth on a SafestHires employee. He has no criminal history, but 186 other people were revealed with the same name and birthday – and they have criminal records!

Employment Verifications: One to Three Days

Our Verifications Specialists perform detailed and confidential verifications of employment.

Employment Verifications can include:

Dates of Employment
Titles and Duties
Reasons for Leaving
Rehire Status
Supervisor References
Customized Questions from Client

Most verifications are completed within 72 hours but can sometimes take longer.

Education Verifications: One to Three Days

The education section on resumes is a hot spot for exaggerations and out-right lies. Verifications Specialists perform education verifications by contacting the educational institution to confirm attendance dates, major, GPA and what degree was awarded. Sometimes, a third-party verification service is required, which can speed up the turnaround time. If you are verifying college or graduate level degrees, the verifications can take up to 72 hours. Checks on high schools can take longer, and you should keep in mind that summer and winter breaks can strain the turnaround time. The most difficult to reach can take up to 2 weeks.

Driving Records: Instant

The driving records search includes license type, validity, vehicle violations, restrictions, suspensions, revocations, accidents and convictions. This search is returned instantly.

FACIS Healthcare Sanctions: Instant

The Fraud Abuse Control Information System (FACIS) search reveals helathcare sanctions. There are several types of Healthcare Sanction reports to consider:

  • Sanctions that involve misappropriation of drugs either involving physicians, pharmacists, pharmacist technicians, or nurses
  • Sanctions that involve criminal convictions such as theft, DUI’s, etc. that the board finds out about and the individual is either given a fine with probation or suspension of license
  • Sanctions that involve an individual not paying an education loan
  • Sanctions that involve individuals on the exclusion list either for Medicaid fraud or abuse

If the sanctions are related to criminal convictions, the records will show up on a criminal search. 

What Can Delay a Background Check?

Here are some factors that might delay completion of a background check:

  • Jurisdictional procedures or requirements 
  • The time it takes a researcher to drive to a courthouse
  • Technology limitations or incomplete records at the court
  • Staffing limitations at the courthouse
  • Holidays or court closures
  • Necessary additional investigation associated with the search

In addition to these types of delays, it takes more time to search a common name such as John Smith since there are many people with that name. Care must be taken to make sure the individual is the same John Smith applying for the position. Although investigations for unique names generally don’t require extensive investigation, they can contribute to the overall length of time.

It’s important to remember that a “background check” may mean something different to you than it does to another employer – and it’s these differences that affect the overall length of time that your specific background check takes to complete.


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