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What a National Criminal Background Check Won’t Tell You About Your Potential Employee

A misconception in the employment background check industry is that a single nationwide database exists that can be used to immediately ensure the safety of your potential hire. In reality, no completely accurate national database exists and any that might be good enough, are not available to the public. Unfortunately, far too many businesses, churches, youth organizations and non-profits rely solely on a “national criminal database search.” While advertising may have convinced you otherwise, this cheap background screening is not enough to ensure a safe applicant and does not satisfy hiring due diligence.

What are National Criminal Databases?

National Criminal Databases or Multi-jurisdictional databases are large collections of criminal information from many sources. The federal government and many private database companies collect nationwide and in some cases international criminal information to create databases that include a huge amount of data. This data comes from various sources like state and local government and even the local court level.

While FBI databases like the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NCIS or the National Crime Information Center or NCIC are quite exhaustive they are focused solely on gun purchases or not available to the general public. Even these vast stores of information are not enough to verify a clean background. Some private databases have a portion of the FBI data but no database that includes all criminal information needed for a complete background check exists, or at least not in a way we can access.

Private database companies collect a wide variety of information from sources like local courts. There are many different companies to choose from and their sources all vary. This means that each company will have slightly different information, so while an applicant’s background check from one private database may be clean, another might show a criminal record!

Why is it important to use more than just a National Criminal Database Search?

When it comes to background checks accuracy is key and using multiple databases can increase report accuracy. If you only use one national criminal search from one criminal background database there is a very high chance you will miss something. Add a state criminal record check and your background report is more accurate, but that’s still pretty hit or miss. Add a local court record search at your applicant’s previous addresses and you get a bit more, add more databases like the national sex offender registry and you continue to increase report accuracy.

The key here is that using multiple and sometimes overlapping databases makes it more likely to find a candidate’s criminal record if they have one. Applicants with a criminal past are more likely to work hard to conceal that past, so really if you aren’t using multiple redundant layers to investigate your potential hires you’re less likely to catch the people you purchased a background check for! In these cases, using only a national criminal database search is throwing money away.

Ask yourself just why are you doing background checks? Are you trying to ensure the safety of your employees and clients? Do you want to make sure the applicant you are hiring doesn’t have a record of stealing from companies like yours? If it’s only because your attorney said that you should be doing something to reduce your liability then you’re probably not doing enough.

An employer has both a moral and legal obligation to provide a safe work environment and to protect their clientele from harm. There are constant large judgements awarded to clients and previous employees when a company failed to satisfy due diligence and hired a dangerous employee. To avoid these, you must take these obligations seriously and consider the quality and accuracy of the information you get from a cheap background check.

Background screening is a complicated business and background check companies like HireSafe utilize many layers of federal, state and local data sources to investigate a potential hires past. It’s important to review national sources in case the applicant committed a crime outside of the county they lived in. It is more important to review more accurate information from the counties they did live in to ensure the best information available is combed through. It is most important to combine multiple layers like these to make sure nothing gets through.

That is why HireSafe crafted our most popular screening packages with multiple layers of checks and balances. These layers were carefully created to ensure if one reporting system fails another will catch the record.  Employment background screening should only be performed correctly in compliance with hiring laws, with safety and security as your objective.

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