Expunged criminal records are sealed arrest and conviction records. Many states have enacted laws that allow people to expunge arrests and convictions from their records. Once an arrest or conviction has been expunged, the applicant does not need to disclose it to a potential employer and the record should not show up in a criminal background check. It seems very straightforward, but it isn’t.
The problem for employers is that some Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) have sloppy procedures and use database checks only in reporting criminal records to their clients. Information in these national supplemental databases is stale! Most are updated sporadically, if at all. There is simply no national database that can claim to be “complete and accurate.”
There are employers that feel they are at a disadvantage if they cannot access all criminal records on applicants especially since the incarceration rate in this country is so high. Do employers need to be concerned about not being able to access expunged records on candidates? The answer is no and here is why:
- Generally, only lesser offenses, such as petty theft, drug crimes and juvenile offenses, are eligible for expungement; and
- Most expungements have conditions and timeframes attached to them.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) addresses the issue of accuracy in consumer reports which includes the reporting of expunged records. Therefore, using expunged records for hiring purposes can cost your company money either in a judgment or in the time it takes to resolve the issue. But the biggest cost to an employer may be the loss of qualified candidates!
So, how do conscientious employers stay out of harm’s way? The clear path is to never allow a background provider to sell you a standalone “national” database search without verification of results by going to official government repositories. Managing a background program is managing risk.
Knowing this, Cisive always conducts criminal record searches the right way by using a quintuple verification of criminal records which ensures records are reportable. Many CRAs merely check one county repository when a criminal check is requested by a client. This will never satisfy Cisive’s standards for accuracy. Felony records are maintained in a separate repository in more than 50 percent of the 3,007 counties in the United States. Cisive always conducts a multiple-repository search, including a third level when municipal courts are appropriate. An investigative audit confirms record accuracy, with a review for legal dissemination under state, federal, and international law.
In addition to a multiple-repository search, Cisive also accesses the original source at court repositories. Cisive reviews applicant-identifying information up to five times. Our attention to detail has yielded an impressive 99.9993 percent accuracy rate — adding to the confidence and assurance that you have screened the right candidate and minimizing your exposure to liability.
Although 40 states offer statewide criminal history record checks because their records have been deemed public by acts of legislatures, Cisive can only recommend 15 of them. Our clients rely on our researched experience of approved sources to avoid a deficient repository that may fail to detect a serious criminal history record. That’s another reason why many of our clients have been with us for over 30 years.
In our continuing effort to keep our clients out of harm’s way, Cisive created an informative white paper, Trends & Risks in Performing Criminal Background Checks, which outlines the pitfalls when using commercial databases as a standalone research tool to conduct criminal history inquiries of prospective employees, and provides a series of best practices for employers to consider to avoid potential civil liability when using criminal background checks.
The moral of this story is that it is imperative to partner with a background screening company that conducts criminal background checks the right way. Keep your company out of harm’s way! Contact a Cisive representative today at 1-866-557-5984 or click here.