How Many Years does a Background Check Go Back?
For employment purposes, background checks usually go back seven years. Most employers can perform background checks that go further beyond that time, however, it is against the law to use information from beyond the seven years to influence a hiring decision. Some states will make exceptions. Individuals with criminal histories with child or sexual abuse, as well as other serious felonies or driving offenses involving drugs or alcohol, may be denied employment if the job position they seek deals with certain populations of society, such as with children or the elderly.
Regardless of the period of time covered in a background check, applicants or current employees who have been denied a position due to information obtained in the search will be presented with the material and offered a chance to appeal. There are some exceptions to how far back the background check will go. For example, recent college and trade school graduates may not be subjected to a thorough background check, while union workers may have different levels of protection during the background check process.
Still, with incidences of identity theft and white collar crime on the rise, a background check can save a company not only money, but its reputation as well. The consequences of failing to do a background check occurred recently in Greenville, N.C. , where an office manager of a medical practice was arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $34,000 over a six-year period. The background check performed as part of the investigation revealed that the office manager had several aliases and a criminal record dating as far back as 1984. This is one example where a more thorough background search could have uncovered a job candidate’s history and intentions for applying to a job that makes it easier to commit certain crimes.
Other than criminal background checks, information can go beyond the seven year standard when Social Security Numbers are scanned. A Social Security check can go as far back to disclose all of the previous residences an individual has had. Similarly, credit checks can reveal a host of information such as bankruptcies or judgment debts, which tend to stay on one’s credit report for seven years as well. In some instances, negative reports may not be entirely erased after a certain amount of time, which is why it is important to review your own credit report regularly for any discrepancies.