Probably the biggest challenge that felons face after their release is finding a job.
Employers typically conduct a background check on applicants before hiring someone, but felons may not know exactly what will be discovered. Knowing what they face can help in preparing them for the results no matter what turns up.
This blog post will cover how to run a background check on yourself.
- What is a Background Check?
- What is Included in a Background Check?
- Criminal Records
- Reasons for Running a Personal Background Check
- How to Run a Personal Background Check
- Encouraging a Felon to Run a Personal Background Check
What is a Background Check?
Most employers are concerned with more than an applicant’s criminal records. In addition, an employer will look at driving records, credit reports, and educational records when doing a background check.
Background information assists employers in determining a candidate’s past mistakes, character, moral and financial fitness, and to pinpoint hiring risks for security and safety issues.
Background checks are not mandatory by law. They are required in areas involving an individual’s personal and private information such as home healthcare, financial, and insurance companies.
The results of a background check gives employers information essential to make a decision in hiring for a position.
Many employers won’t hire felons because they think they are dishonest and likely to commit a crime on the job. Employers are also concerned about the public finding out they hire felons, which could damage the company’s reputation and cost them business.
Felons can lose out on a job because of the potential public damage, harm, or threat they represent for the company.
For positions with high security or trust, employers want to make certain they make a good decision.
What is Included in a Background Check?
Basic information such as full name, date of birth, and Social Security Number are required to conduct a background check.
Among the information typically included in a background check are:
- Driving records
- Credit records, including bankruptcy
- Criminal records
- Education records
- Court records
- Character references
- Medical records
- Military records
- State licensing records
- Drug test records
- Past employers
- Personal references
- Incarceration records
- Sex offender lists
- Social media profiles
This part of the background check involves a search of criminal history files for any criminal activity.
A criminal background check typically reveals the following information:
- Convictions of felonies, misdemeanors, and sex crimes
- Current home address and phone number as well as those within the past ten years
- Arrests and court records (Dockets, orders, decrees, judgments)
- Incarceration records
- Federal and state tax liens
- Federal and civil judgments
- Federal and state bankruptcies
- Age and date of birth
- Any alias’ and maiden names
- Marriages and divorces
Often, the perception is that all information on an individual is stored in one giant database that can be easily accessed.
There are multiple databases involved from local to county to state to federal, each with different information on a person. A background check typically involves compiling data from several sources.
A county background check is the most common, showing felony criminal history and misdemeanors in most counties.
Then, there is a Federal Criminal Record Check, which shows federal crimes and crimes committed on federal property.
A Statewide and Nationwide check, Sex Offender Registry, and a Global Homeland Security Search shows if an individual is in any of these databases.
According to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a background check will show all non-convictions, including cases dismissed, not prosecuted, or resulting in deferred adjudication.
Non-convictions are reportable for seven years. Convictions can be reported without any limitation.
When felons have had their records expunged or sealed at the time of the background check, these would not appear on a background check.
When running a background check, employers are encouraged to follow the practices established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A U.S. court case established the essential factors to be considered when looking at a background check:
- Nature and gravity of a crime
- Time that has passed since the offense and the end of the sentence
- Nature of the job
Not all offenses are severe enough to result in exclusion from all positions. For some, there is a time when the felon is not considered to be a significant risk for repeating their offense.
The nature of the job involves its functions (data entry or handling money), the circumstances under which the job is performed (level of supervision), and the environment in which it is performed (outdoors, in a business, or a private home).
Reasons for Running a Personal Background Check
There are reasons for a felon to run a personal background check. Rather than waiting until the interview for a job is over and hoping for the best, it may be helpful to do a background check on themselves before applying for a job.
This will allow a felon the opportunity to know exactly what will be found when a potential employer does their review. Why wait and take a chance on the results being more unfavorable than they might realize.
A felon could be turned down for anything in the background check that is out of line with what an employer is looking for. Usually, the rejection comes at a time too late to dispute the results. The hiring process will continue, and someone else will get that job!
Conducting their own background check will allow a felon to see what an employer views. It is best to know and understand how potential employers are assessing them.
Misinformation does occur. The police department or the court could make a mistake in recording a criminal offense. Knowing this will permit a felon to possibly avoid missing out on a job because of an inaccuracy.
For felons who may have had their record expunged, it is important to examine their file to make certain that the felony they thought was gone doesn’t still show up.
What a waste to have their record expunged and then still be penalized for that offense.
How to Run a Personal Background Check
Yes, a personal background check can be run. There are various kinds of personal background checks that can be done.
For those who know they have a felony conviction or arrest, the court in which they were charged will be able to provide those records.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has established that a credit report will help determine how financially responsible an individual is by examining how much debt a person has, their debt/income ratio, the number of times their credit report has been accessed, and if any accounts have been sent to collection.
When it comes to driving records, states vary in terms of how long something will show up. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for each state can provide specific information. Some employers will check driving records, especially for any job involving driving, such as a truck driver.
An educational report will ask for diplomas and transcripts and can be obtained through the national Student Clearing House.
Verifying social media accounts will give an online footprint.
For someone wanting to do a background check on themselves, there are places that can help with that process.
Encouraging a Felon to Run a Personal Background Check
For families of loved ones with a felony, encourage them to be honest and ready to answer any questions about the charges.
Conducting their own background check will permit a felon to know what an employer will view when they do their check.
Being prepared for various issues when applying for a job and having their own background check can prevent problems later on.
Be there for them and be honest with them in this situation.
Help them be aware of the results of any background check by doing their own first. Give them the best opportunity for success in their new life.
So what do you think about this blog post about how to run a personal background check? Have you or someone you know had a felony and did a personal background check? What was that like and were they successful in dealing with it? Please tell us in the comments below.