An important part of the hiring process in many industries is a candidate background check. These background checks provide employers with assurance and peace of mind about potential new hires.

While many applicants with criminal records may still be great employees, there is great safety in many industries in performing background checks on all applicants.

Hiring an individual with a violent criminal past in a public service job, for instance, could have very negative consequences. The value of an error-free background check for many employers is immeasurable. 

But what if a background check is inaccurate? Is such a thing possible? And if so, how can the individual, or the employer, go about correcting the mistake?

How Common Is An Inaccurate Background Check?

The vast majority of criminal background checks are accurate. Background check services would have a hard time staying in business otherwise. But despite the overwhelming accuracy of background checks, it is important to acknowledge that errors can occur. 

Like with any complex process, the possibility of human error and inaccuracy of information remain. So what can cause an inaccurate background check? There are many different potential causes of error in reporting.

One common source of confusion on background checks is in similar identifying information between individuals. For example, a job applicant who has the misfortune of sharing the first and last name of a convicted felon could be victimized by mistaken identity on a background check. 

Mistakes can occur in other situations as well. Even if a name is not identical, having a similar name (for instance, “Sean” vs. “Shawn”) as somebody else can cause errors on a criminal background check. In other cases, there may be no discernible connection between the applicant and their false criminal history. 

In some cases, errors are simply a result of multiple agencies and databases being checked, and one database providing a single false piece of information.

No matter the cause of an inaccurate background check, this is obviously something that everybody, the employer, employee, and the agency running the background check, all want to avoid. While most background check agencies report greater than 99% accuracy, that still leads to hundreds or thousands of inaccurate background checks annually. 

When that happens, the individual can file a petition to have the inaccurate report corrected. The firm responsible for performing the check then has 30 days to investigate and correct any reported errors.

What Information Can Appear on a Background Check?

Most criminal history will appear on a criminal background check. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, some crimes can be expunged. 

Additionally, most arrest records are subject to the 7-year rule on background checks. This means that, after seven years, many arrest records will fall off on new background checks. This does not apply to felony convictions, violent crimes, and those on the sexual offender registry.

The purpose of the 7-year rule is to ensure that only the most pertinent and relevant information appears in background checks. A minor arrest without a conviction 10 years ago, with no later arrests, is not often significant enough to warrant inclusion on a background check.

Worry-Free Background Check

While some errors may occur from time to time on background checks, 99.9% of the time, they are fully accurate. The best way to ensure the accuracy of your company’s background checks is to work with an organization that is comprehensive and thorough in their investigations. 

Soteria Screening Laboratories provides employers with some of the most reliable background checks and drug screenings available. Both you and your prospective employees deserve to have complete trust in the accuracy of your background checks. Contact us to learn more about how we can help make that possible.

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