How Far Back Can a Background Check Go

Most employers in the United States run a background check on potential employees. This common practice means you will likely have many background checks performed on you over time. So, how far back a background check goes? Knowing this will give you an idea of what to expect potential employers will see in your background check. Also, knowing what they can find in your background allows you to prepare for any questions about unfavorable information.

Employers use background checks to verify an employee’s identity and other details about their background. This check can include information such as an employee’s name, date of birth, past addresses, education, employment history, criminal records, and more.

How Far Back Will a Background Check Go?

The information in background checks comes from public databases and typically contains information about a person’s life. Such information will include education, marriage information, past employment, and other details. That said, there is no time limit for reporting this information. Therefore, you can expect consistent updates to your reportable history.

However, there are time limits for reporting other types of information. For example, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) places time limits on the information included in criminal background checks. Furthermore, the FCRA allows background check providers to report arrests for seven years and convictions for ten.

States can also restrict how long the public can access criminal records. For example, some states restrict access to seven years, whereas others allow ten. Other states have exemptions to these limits based on an individual’s salary. For example, some states limit the information obtained if the employee’s salary is less than $75,000. Additionally, other states place limits at different salary levels, such as $20,000 or $50,000.

These restrictions do not apply to jobs with the federal government. There is no time limit for the federal government when accessing criminal records or other background checks. However, other employment background checks typically go back for seven to ten years, though this can vary based on the job. As a result, employment background checks tend to have more limits placed on them than others.

Final Thoughts

The length of time a background check covers can vary. However, employment background screenings will generally cover seven to ten years. The best way to find out what is on your background check is to run a self-background check. This action will let you know what your employer will see when conducting a background check. It will also give you a chance to correct any background check errors. Finally, running a self-background check allows you to think about how to explain any negative information it contains.

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