There are several reasons employers conduct background checks. State and federal laws require some; others help safeguard the organization’s reputation.
Fingerprinting is an efficient, cost-effective, and fast option for conducting background checks. However, it has its limitations.
Whether you’re a healthcare organization, a school, or a company in the transportation industry, fingerprinting is required for hiring and background screening. Fingerprints provide a quick, affordable, and accurate way to conduct criminal background checks on new hires.
When a candidate’s fingerprints are scanned, they’re immediately sent to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for processing. They’re then matched against various databases, giving you a complete picture of your applicant’s history.
FBI fingerprint background checks reveal felony and misdemeanor convictions, pending criminal cases, and a history of incarceration as an adult. In addition, they can also disclose arrests that do not result in a sentence.
Sometimes, these records must be completed or accurate, so they may provide only some of the information you need to make an informed decision. Moreover, some state and local authorities fail to report their arrests to the FBI, leaving you with incomplete and outdated data.
Whether you’re an employer, a law enforcement officer, or a volunteer, background checks are essential to protect your organization. When conducted correctly, they can ensure your business is safe and that you don’t hire people with a history of fraud, violence, or other crimes.
For this reason, many employers conduct criminal background checks as part of their hiring process. However, these screenings only reveal some things about a candidate.
These checks usually rely on the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), which houses 70 million records. That’s only a fraction of the hundreds of millions of criminal records maintained by states nationwide.
In addition, fingerprints don’t always appear in arrest records, and even when they do, they may not indicate the case’s outcome.
These limitations are why many employers use additional background searches in addition to a fingerprint check. These include criminal checks at the county level, employment verification, and education verification.
Fingerprint background checks can be a legal requirement in some industries and positions. It is particularly true when the industry deals with criminal activity or has security-related jobs requiring the employee to identify potential suspects.
However, fingerprint checks have a few limitations that mean they are only useful in limited contexts. The main issue is that a name-based background check can provide more comprehensive results in most cases.
A name-based background check can also be cross-referenced with other sources, including residences, education, and employment verification. Further background checks can be beneficial when an ambiguous name could be related to many different people.
Another limitation is that criminal history records do not always link to the actual outcome of a trial. It means that a person who was fingerprinted and arrested might have been acquitted, had their case dismissed, or had their conviction thrown out.
It can make it difficult for employers to require a candidate to undergo a fingerprint background check legally. It is especially the case in states with laws that prevent an employer from passing on the cost of a fingerprint background check to a candidate.
Fingerprint background checks are used by more than two-thirds of companies as part of their hiring process, according to a survey conducted by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA). However, fingerprinting is only one of many sources of criminal record information.
In the United States, criminal and civil fingerprint records are on file in the National Crime Information Center’s system, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains. These records include arrests, indictments, convictions, and other relevant criminal data.
The fingerprinting process is a requirement for all federal criminal history records checks done on applicants for employment and licensing purposes. This process includes either electronic “live scan” or paper and ink “hard cards,” which are then sent to the FBI for processing.
The requesting agency may also send the results to other agencies where statutorily mandated, such as community care licensing facilities and foster family homes. Those agencies must then follow the agency’s own rules regarding when to obtain additional copies of the results.
A fingerprint background check is usually a pre-employment screening that matches the candidate’s fingerprint data with criminal records. This type of background check helps employers ensure they are hiring people who meet the legal requirements for their particular job positions.
However, this process can be costly and time-consuming. Fingerprinting agencies typically require applicants to make an appointment and provide a valid form of ID at the time of fingerprinting.
In addition, the process can take a long time if there are any issues with the applicant’s demographic details or poor-quality prints.
Moreover, FBI and state databases often need to be completed. They may return incomplete or inaccurate information, which can negatively impact the outcome of an employment decision.
It can lead to discrimination against groups protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Additionally, it can create legal risks for employers if they rely on these outdated or incorrect records when making employment decisions