FAQ!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the FCRA?
What do the terms “Consumer Report” and “CRA” mean?
What is the NAPBS and are you a member?
Can I run a background check on myself?
Does the applicant have to consent to a background check?
Can’t I just do an Internet search instead?
Are there ever mistakes in background checks?
Are there any special forms required before I order a background check?
What about background checks on Volunteers, Contractors, and Agents?
Are there any costs involved in joining your services?
Are there any extra fees that I may have to pay?
How do I conduct a search?
How do I get results?
How up-to-date is the information reported?
Does the company have an on-site compliance officer to help applicants and clients with reports and questions about legal issues?
Can your company service organizations with multiple locations?
How long does a background check take to complete?
What can I do to speed up my order?
What are the common causes for report delays?
What does a typical background check consist of?
How much does background screening cost?
What kinds of background checks deliver the best results?
What information is needed for an accurate background check?
Why is a Social Security Number required?
What if I don’t have the Date of Birth?
What if the candidate changed her name after getting married?
What’s the value of a county level criminal search when a statewide or national criminal database search is available?
Do you provide a national criminal search?
Is a federal criminal search the same thing as a national criminal database search?
Why do you recommend several criminal record searches?
Why does your report say that you provide criminal information for a minimum of seven years?

Industry Questions

What is the FCRA?

The FCRA is an acronym for the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This act regulates the collection of credit information and access to your credit report. It was passed in 1970 to ensure fairness, accuracy and privacy of the personal information contained in the files of the credit reporting agencies. It requires that any person or entity requesting your report must demonstrate a permissible purpose for the information before it is released. It also designates the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the enforcement authority for the provisions of the act.

What do the terms “Consumer Report” and “CRA” mean?

The term consumer report means any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer’s eligibility for (1) credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes; (2) employment purposes; or (3) any other purpose authorized under section 1681b of the FCRA. However, consumer reports only contain credit report information if/when specifically requested by our client.

A CRA is a Consumer Reporting Agency. The term “consumer reporting agency” means any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports.

What is the NAPBS and are you a member?

NAPBS is an acronym for the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. The NAPBS is a professional organization that exists to promote ethical business practices, compliance with the FCRA, equal employment opportunity and state and international consumer protection laws relating to the background screening profession. NAPBS provides educational programs aimed at empowering members to better serve their clients, while adhering to standards of excellence in the background screening profession.

General Questions

Can I run a background check on myself?

No. BCIB only sets up accounts for licensed U.S. businesses seeking to run background checks for pre-employment or tenant screening purposes. Because of the sensitive nature of the information gathered, background checks are restricted to those with a legal “permissible purpose.”

Does the applicant have to consent to a background check?

Yes. Certain state laws and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law that regulates who is permitted to access your consumer report information and how it can be used, generally require that you must obtain written or electronic consent from the job applicant prior to a third-party screening company like BCIB to conduct any criminal record search, employment or education verification, credit history check or reference check.

Can’t I just do an Internet search instead?

A simple search of the internet will begin to uncover the information provided to you by BCIB. Our team of experts, with consent of your applicant, can quickly and accurately provide a thorough criminal records search (most criminal records are not electronically available through a free public website). BCIB has numerous other services, to include MVR, CDLIS, OIG/GSA, education and employment verifications, which is not online and is available only with signed consent.

Are there ever mistakes in background checks?

Yes, mistakes can occur. The information in a background check was created, compiled, maintained, searched, and reported by humans…all of whom make mistakes. With that said, it is important to give the applicant the opportunity to review negative information. If the applicant identifies information in a report that is incomplete or inaccurate, BCIB will re-investigate and furnish the required reports, notifications, etc., at no further charge.

Are there any special forms required before I order a background check?

A signed release, provided to you by BCIB is needed before you order a background check. A handful of states still require a special release before providing statewide criminal records or Motor Vehicle Record information. If you request any international services, our Client Services Team will provide you with the paperwork needed to obtain the appropriate information.

What about background checks on Volunteers, Contractors, and Agents?

According to the Federal Trade Commission background checks on volunteers, contractors, and agents should be handled as background checks “for employment purposes.”

Questions specific to BCIB

Are there any costs involved in joining your services?

Account set up with BCIB is free. The only exception is for clients seeking to run Credit Reports for employment or tenant screening purposes. In this case, clients must undergo an on-site inspection. Ask a BCIB sales representative for the on-site inspection fee.

Once set up, there are no monthly access or monitory fees and the only charges are those associated with the actual searches performed on a monthly basis.

Are there any extra fees that I may have to pay?

The background screening industry incurs access fees for some of the searches performed.  Examples of these are court fees, Motor Vehicle Records state access fees, third party verification fees for employment and education, etc.  BCIB passes these fees directly to our clients as they occur. A list of these fees, if available in advance, are located on our website.

How do I conduct a search?

Once you set up an account with BCIB you are able to order backgrounds 24/7 via our secure online system. Any search requested must have a signed release from the person being checked.

How do I get results?

Once reports are complete, the user requesting the report receives an email notification and is promoted to view the completed report within our secure online system.

How up-to-date is the information reported?

BCIB does not maintain an in-house database of any information and gathers all records directly from the source, at the time of the request, providing the most current up-to-date information available. Going to the primary source every time ensures you receive the most accurate and reliable information possible.

Does the company have an on-site compliance officer to help applicants and clients with reports and questions about legal issues?

While BCIB employs 5 full time Compliance Officers, BCIB does not give legal advice to our clients.  Our Compliance Team is extremely knowledgeable about the industry and can answer general questions as well as point clients in the right direction to obtain specific information.

Can your company service organizations with multiple locations?

BCIB services clients nationally and is able to customize your account to include multiple locations with varying security level access to ordering and review of results.

Questions on turnaround time

How long does a background check take to complete?

BCIB provides one of the fastest report turnaround time in the industry…we’ve done the research! With an average report turnaround time of 1 – 3 business days, this process may take longer when courts, employers, and schools are hard to contact or slow to respond.

What can I do to speed up my order?

The best thing you can do to expedite your order is to fill out all documentation completely and legibly and see that your applicants do the same. Not only will this increase the speed with which results are received, but it will also help ensure that the most accurate results possible are obtained.

What are the common causes for report delays?

There are many reasons a report can be delayed. Delays can start at the time of order due to data entry errors. These errors can return incorrect information, requiring correction and review by our Compliance Team. Another cause of delay is if the applicant has a common name. These can return multiple records in which case the search goes into pending until review by Compliance. Adverse information or criminal “hits” can cause delay as the records will be flagged and must be reviewed by Compliance. Lastly, delays can occur when courts, employers, and schools are hard to contact or slow to respond.

Questions on Reports

What does a typical background check consist of?

This depends on the industry and the specific requirements of the job. BCIB provides a list of recommended services, by industry, within this website. The typical background check is meant to verify whether or not the applicant is being truthful about not/having a criminal record, their education and employment history.

How much does background screening cost?

This depends on the background check policy in place by the client. BCIB delivers the most robust, accurate criminal record background checks available. Depending on the complexity of the screening, the cost for such a check can range from under $50 to several hundreds of dollars.

What kinds of background checks deliver the best results?

This depends on the policy and goals of each individual client. When working with a BCIB sales representative, they will evaluate your need and suggest the services to best meet that need. In most cases, a background check to include a SSN trace, unlimited county criminal records search and unlimited federal district record search of the counties/districts the applicant has lived, worked and studied in the past 7 years as well as a national criminal database search will provide a comprehensive criminal records search. Many employers choose to supplement this standard background check with searches of various services to include sex offender registry, government sanctions lists, motor vehicle records, employment and education verification and others. The more comprehensive a background check is, the more accurate and reliable the results will be.

What information is needed for an accurate background check?

The two most important pieces of information are the full name (properly spelled and preferably with middle name or initial) and date of birth. Next in importance is the Social Security Number. While criminal records are not reported using SSNs, this number is used to identify address history on an applicant as well as an additional identifier in criminal records searches.

Two additional items used to run an accurate report are the applicants maiden/AKA name(s) and proposed salary. If your applicant has a maiden/AKA and was convicted of a crime under that name, our clients will never uncover this information unless the maiden/AKA is searched. Additional fees apply for Maiden/AKA names. Select states have reporting restrictions based on proposed salary. By entering a proposed salary, at the time of order, BSA will be able to return all reportable criminal convictions.

Why is a Social Security Number required?

The applicants SSN is used for a variety of reasons. Many employers wish to run the SSN as a means to establish some trustworthiness of the information, by validating whether the applicant provided a SSN that is real and issued after the provided date of birth. Secondly, SSN is used as a tool to identify past addresses associated with the applicant. This information allows the client to perform a more targeted criminal search within the specific county courthouses. Lastly, the SSN can be used as an additional identifier when searching criminal records. While criminal records are name-based searches, when searching common names, the SSN can be used to additionally identify the applicant if the courthouse has the data on file.

What if I don’t have the Date of Birth?

BCIB recommend that you not conduct a criminal background check on a person without their date of birth (DOB.) The DOB is a primary identifier used by almost all courthouses in America. Although in some cases, HR departments have chosen to not ask for DOB during the application process to avoid any appearance of age discrimination, we find that it is standard industry practice to ask for this on the “Background Check Consent Form” which can be kept separate during the hiring process if need be. Most non-criminal checks do not involve the DOB.

What if the candidate changed her name after getting married?

Names are critical to getting accurate criminal records. Because the United States does not have a standard policy across states and counties for record keeping, you should not assume that counties will store maiden/AKA names in criminal files. Therefore, industry best practice is to conduct a background check on each name(s) used by an applicant in the last 7 years. This applies most often to last names, but to the extent that first names are dramatically different for any reason, this too could impact searches for criminal records.

Our researchers will search every name submitted for each jurisdiction.  Researchers charge per name searched therefore BCIB also charges per name searched.

What’s the value of a county level criminal search when a statewide or national criminal database search is available?

County court searches provide the most accurate and up-to-date criminal record information. Court searches provide a narrow scope of search whereas statewide and national searches cast wider nets.  The negative aspects to statewide searches is that the county courts may not regularly report case data to the state repositories; some statewide searches have long turnaround times, require high state fees and/or specific releases; and not every state has a statewide repository available to the public.  National searches again cast a wide net, but do not cover every county in every state.  When thinking about your due diligence, it is generally thought to be better to perform county searches where the applicant has revealed living and developed from a social security trace and then supplemented by statewide and National Criminal Insight searches.

Do you provide a national criminal search?

BCIB provides a national criminal database search.  This searches a compilation of various databases such as county and state criminal databases, sex offender registries and more throughout the United States and is frequently referred to in the industry as a “national search”.  The clarification is that it does not search every county in every state.  Rather, it casts a wide net and may very well pick up data in states that you might otherwise not run.

Is a federal criminal search the same thing as a national criminal database search?

This is a common cause of confusion in this industry. These are two very different searches. A federal criminal search is a search of the U.S. Federal District Courts and are searched by jurisdiction.  These searches provide results on suits filed by the federal government such as drug trafficking across state lines, gambling, kidnapping and bank robbery.  Federal crimes are also categorized as misdemeanors or felonies

Why do you recommend several criminal record searches?

There is no source of criminal records information that contains all criminal record information nationwide. Therefore we recommend our clients utilize multiple sources to uncover criminal records. This will increase their quality of hire and therefore reduce their legal risk.

Why does your report say that you provide criminal information for a minimum of seven years?

BCIB reports criminal results for a minimum of seven years. However, we will report beyond seven years if the record is readily available through the court index or repository and legally reportable by the state.