Many employers require fingerprint background checks, especially for positions dealing with money or vulnerable employees’ safety. But, fingerprints are not infallible and often leave out information such as arrests or case dispositions.
If you rely on fingerprint background checks, choose your screening partner wisely. You can improve your candidate experience by partnering with an experienced consumer reporting agency.
Unlike other background checks done through third parties, fingerprint background checks require the applicant to participate actively. They go down to their local police department, have their fingerprints scanned, and then that information is sent to the vetting organization handling the background check on behalf of the employer.
Because fingerprints can’t be faked, this is an incredibly reliable way of getting criminal records. However, there are a few essential things to keep in mind when evaluating the results of this type of background check.
For example, a fingerprint check will only show crimes filed with the person’s fingerprints. That means things like a misdemeanor drug offense or a disorderly conduct conviction could be missed because they were never filed. It also does not reveal if the person was arrested but released without charging them or if they were found not guilty of a crime.
Because of these limitations, it is essential to use this type of background check in conjunction with other sources of information when making hiring decisions. Research suggests that when controlling for the applicant’s location and the position they applied to, a criminal record is only associated with a 4% decrease in the likelihood of being hired. This is a small price to pay for increased confidence that the people you hire are not dangerous to your staff and customers.
In addition to criminal records, a fingerprint and background check can verify an applicant’s employment history. This step is crucial for the long-term success of your business because it ensures that your employees are who they say they are. Verifying the candidate’s name and social security number match their employment and tax records is essential. This can help to identify any potential fraud or identity theft issues before they become a problem for your company.
Fingerprint-based background checks often include ink-and-roll or electronic fingerprinting (a live scan). This checks an applicant’s identification information and determines their fingerprint impression’s validity. Because fingerprints are distinct, they can be used to identify a person, even if they have changed their name or used a different one.
Using fingerprints to determine an individual’s identity is especially useful in cases where a job involves working with vulnerable populations, like children and older people. For this reason, some industries, like healthcare and childcare, require fingerprint-based background checks as a standard vetting method for all employees.
A fingerprint-based background check is the process of matching an applicant’s fingerprints with the FBI’s national criminal database to find any arrest or conviction records that may be found. This is typically a mandatory component for jobs with direct access to Medicare and Medicaid services.
As the world becomes more globalized, businesses must have a firm grasp of the backgrounds of their employees. This is why companies often use fingerprint background checks and other screening methods. It is essential for jobs with high trust, such as positions with direct access to patients in healthcare fields and security-sensitive roles.
A fingerprint-based criminal background check can help identify individuals by matching prints with those stored in the FBI database. This can uncover criminal records that would otherwise be missed with a name search, including arrests and dispositions and any identifying information attached to those arrests.
Civil fingerprinting is typically conducted to complete a pre-employment screen, licensing requirements, or other statutorily authorized purposes, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services National Background Check Program (NBCP). Civil fingerprinting is also utilized to confirm identities, particularly where it is necessary to establish that an applicant is who they claim to be.
An employer’s credit report provides a window into an applicant’s financial history and helps assess risk. For example, many late payments can raise suspicions that an employee may be irresponsible or dishonest in their duties at work. Regardless of whether an employee’s fingerprint or credit report is used in a background check, employers should be consistent and only use these searches for job-related reasons.
Social Security Number
In some cases, fingerprint background checks can reveal information that may not come up on a credit report or other forms of pre-employment screening. For example, fingerprint records can show an arrest if it was recorded at the time of the crime, but they don’t always include the outcome, such as whether the person was convicted or released on bond.
The FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) can cross-reference fingerprints with criminal records. Still, not all states send information to IAFIS, so it’s essential to search state and local systems for a complete picture of an applicant’s history. Civil court searches can determine if an applicant has a record of bankruptcy or other civil litigation, sometimes required for specific jobs in regulated industries.
Depending on the job, an employer might need to verify an employee’s social security number for tax purposes. If this is the case, it’s essential to be transparent with applicants and explain why the verification process is needed.
Employers are legally allowed to request an applicant’s social security number. Still, they should consider the potential for a privacy issue or a potential violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act when asking for this sensitive information.