Online Employee Background Check Question and Answer Series from HireSafe: What Are Court Fees? Why do charges vary for each employee’s background check?

Whether you are new to the employment background check world or just new to HireSafe, it’s normal to have questions about our practices! New and old clients alike have questions about why we use online forms, what goes into the cost of a background check, and what exactly compliance means to them. Over the Month of August, we will be sharing answers to some of the most asked questions and filling you in why we do what we do.

This week we answer: What Are Court Fees? Why do charges vary for each background check?

County Courts usually handle criminal record history documentation and storage. Due to this, you will sometimes find that background checks run through HireSafe include court fees on top of the employment screening price. These are fees imposed at the county court level by the government agencies in charge of keeping those records. Background checks that are compliant with FCRA regulations MUST use these agencies to confirm criminal records belong to and are valid for the candidate being screened. Therefore, including these court fees is not only required by law but also the reason why HireSafe background checks have high accuracy.

Whenever an employee background check begins, we ask candidates to fill in their address history. Criminal records are stored at the county level, so we investigate criminal records at each of their previous addresses. Using a mix of databases and search tools our criminal record experts investigate your candidate’s past. These searches generally use personal identification information such as name, birth date and social security number. If our original search gets a hit on a record it is required by law that we confirm that record belongs to the candidate in question by querying the county court where the record is stored. This is where court fees come in.

Each court, in each state has a different method and price for retrieving the information needed to confirm a criminal record. Depending on where a candidate has lived prior to applying to your company the court fees can be higher or lower than normal. This means it is impossible for HireSafe to estimate what county court fees will be with each screening.

This also means that if your candidate lived in several counties that have records attached to them, we will need to look for criminal records in each of those counties increasing the court fees.

This is also how background checks offered at lower cost shave off those extra funds. Instead of following the law and confirming records at the county court level, they just assume the record found on a cheaper database applies to the applicant.

This is both against the law and immoral. The nature of personal identification information means it is very easy to have duplicate names and birthdates showing records on these systems. There is also the possibility of a criminal record being incorrectly attributed to someone with no criminal past. For these reasons and more the FCRA and state laws have continually insisted any record found be confirmed with county courts. It is far too common to have a candidate show a criminal record on a database search and then find that record is for a different person when researching at the county level.

Accuracy here is the goal, it is very easy to find cheap background checks online and sign up, only to find that you aren’t getting an accurate report. In addition, the national databases are not always the most accurate source of criminal information. It is extremely important to cross check county records because sometimes the database does not have the county in question, or they have not entered the record yet.

In this way a cheap background check can falsely identify a candidate as having a criminal record or miss a criminal record that does not exist in a cheap database.

These are all compelling reasons for HireSafe to ensure the most accurate report possible by researching criminal records at the county court level. While this does incur court fees they are usually inexpensive and well worth the safety they provide from hiring a candidate with a criminal record, or denying a candidate due to a record that wasn’t confirmed resulting in a lawsuit.

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