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Background Checks

5 Commonly Asked Questions About Background Screening for HR and Recruiting Leaders

  • May 7, 2019
  • Antique Nguyen
  • Approx. Read Time: 5 Minutes

HR and recruiting leaders are wholly invested in compliance when it comes to background screening and employment law. It’s imperative that we stay on top of any new developments, current regulations, and legislation from multiple government agencies. As a best-in-class vendor partner for background screening, Cisive fields a lot of questions from companies about the background check process. Here, we’ll share the five most commonly asked questions about background screening.


Which laws regulate the employment and background screening process?

Legal compliance has become more challenging than ever before. Companies must consider both Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for collecting, using, and disposing of background check information. For example, it’s illegal to check the background of applicants and employees when that decision is based on a person’s race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or age (40 or older). Asking only people of a certain race about their financial histories or criminal records is evidence of discrimination.

When taking an adverse action (for example, not hiring an applicant or firing an employee) based on background information, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has additional requirements:

    • Before you take an adverse employment action, you must give the applicant or employee:
      • a notice that includes a copy of the consumer report you relied on to make your decision; and
      • a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” which you should have received from the company that sold you the report.
    • By giving the person the notice in advance, the person has an opportunity to review the report and explain any negative information.
    • After you take an adverse employment action, you must tell the applicant or employee (orally, in writing, or electronically):
      • that he or she was rejected because of information in the report;
      • the name, address, and phone number of the company that sold the report;
      • that the company selling the report didn’t make the hiring decision, and can’t give specific reasons for it; and
      • that he or she has a right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of the report, and to get an additional free report from the reporting company within 60 days.


This is just a small snapshot of all of the regulatory information your HR team would need to maintain compliance with employment regulations. The complexity of these laws, along with the different regulations that vary by state, means that your background screening vendor partner must be on top of compliance continuously. This is why Cisive assists clients in developing responsible hiring practices as recommended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and by following the guidelines of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), plus ensures that your company is compliant with state and local regulations.


How long do I retain background check reports?

The EEOC requires any personnel or employment records you make or keep (including all application forms, regardless of whether the applicant was hired, and other records related to hiring) must be preserved for one year after the records were made, or after a personnel action was taken, whichever comes later. (The EEOC extends this requirement to two years for educational institutions and for state and local governments. The Department of Labor also extends this requirement to two years for federal contractors that have at least 150 employees and a government contract of at least $150,000.) If the applicant or employee files a charge of discrimination, you must maintain the records until the case is concluded.

The FTC regulations state that, once you’ve satisfied all applicable record keeping requirements, you may dispose of any background reports you received. However, the law requires that you must dispose of the reports – and any information gathered from them – securely. That can include burning, pulverizing, or shredding paper documents and disposing of electronic information so that it can’t be read or reconstructed. For more information, see “Disposing of Consumer Report Information? Rule Tells How.”


How long does the typical background check take?

All things being equal – the information supplied is accurate, for example – and depending on the types of screening requested, a basic “standard” background check should take from three to five days.


Why do some employment screening checks take longer than others?

Some background screens take longer because your background screen company may have had to verify and correct inaccurate data. More often, some checks take longer based on what type of screening you’ve requested. Cisive conducts a wide range of screening, from criminal to credit history to social media to employment. A drug screen could also delay the results of your background screen by one or two days.


What searches are included in a background check?

It’s important to have a background screening partner that offers a variety of services and the selected services change what types of searches are included. For example, you may only need a criminal background, education and employment verification, and drug screen for a new hire. Depending on the job description, you might also need a Motor Vehicle Records check, fingerprinting, and verification of license or certification. All searches are compliant with the regulations required for your geographic location and industry. Here’s a list of the types of screening available through Cisive and a description of what is involved:

    • Criminal Background. Cisive’s employment screening services always includes multiple repository searches. An investigative audit confirms record accuracy, followed by a review for legal dissemination under state, federal, and international law. Learn more
    • Social Security Number. Cisive conducts an inquiry on the individual’s Social Security number against commercial sources to include credit bureau header information, augmented with related compiled name and address information. Learn More
    • Employment & Education. Cisive is known for the thoroughness and accuracy of its employment background check investigations. Its proprietary employment background screening relies on a technology interface to ensure verifications are completed within your time frame. Learn More
    • Motor Vehicle Records. Cisive conducts a statewide Motor Vehicle Record Check (MVR) of the appropriate motor vehicle files based on the state in which an operator license is issued. Learn More
    • Credit History. Cisive includes credit and litigation history, Social Security number trace, and current and previous addresses, and may include current or former employers. Learn More
    • Global Screening. Cisive’s Global employment screening services includes the acquisition of background screening information in 196 countries, with a dedicated focus on in-country processes, procedures, and compliance. Learn More
    • Drug Screening. Cisive’s strategic alliance makes us a best-in-class provider of drug and alcohol testing, as well as in-house medical review services, all using the latest testing technology. Learn More
    • Fingerprinting. Cisive offers several options for fingerprint capture through strategic partnerships with a vast nationwide network of Live Scan locations. Learn More
    • Social Media. Cisive’s strategic partner searches and analyzes your job candidate’s Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Instagram records. Learn More
    • Regulatory. Cisive continually researches, interprets, and socializes regulatory and statutory changes associated with employment screening and related activities. Learn More


Due to the complex nature of background check screening in workplaces, these are just a handful of the most commonly asked questions. Connect with Cisive today and talk with a member of our team to not only answer your questions but serve as a trusted partner who is focused on quality, accuracy, and fanatical customer service.


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