What to expect from a background check

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The Supreme Court recently heard a case in which 28 scientists and NASA contractors from Caltech sued the government agency after it requested new background checks be conducted on long-term employees. The contractors reportedly found some of the open-ended questions asked by NASA to be an invasion of their privacy.

According to the Supreme Court Blog (yes there is such a thing), the case, NASA v. Nelson, raised the issue of whether the “government violate[s] a federal contract employee’s constitutional right to privacy by asking her whether she has received counseling or treatment for recent illegal drug use in the past year, or by asking her references if they have any reason to believe she is unsuited to work in a federal facility.” The court has not yet ruled on the case.

Though the case focused on government employees, the issue of seemingly invasive background checks is becoming a widespread legal issue. A number of lawsuits have been filed by employees in both private and public jobs, accusing employers of discrimination based on information found in background checks, or with conducting overly invasive screenings. Yet because background checks are both a legal and standard part of the hiring process — according to the Society for Human Resource Management, employers can legally conduct background checks before they even make an employment offer — it can be hard to know when your rights are being violated.

Here are a few things to remember when it comes to background checks:

Most employers need to get your permission: According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, employers must get permission from a candidate before conducting a background check if a third-party agency is doing the screening. Since most employers don’t have in-house background-screening capabilities, you will usually know if a background check is being done on you, because you will have to sign a permission form. Should you not be given a background-check permission form at the time of your interview, ask the employer if they will be conducting one.

They can occur even after an employment offer: Some employers will periodically conduct background checks on employees even if they have been there long-term, either at random – as in the case of the NASA screenings – or before considering an employee for a promotion. In most states – California is one exception – if you gave permission for a background check before you were hired, employers generally do not need to ask permission for follow up screenings.

Most employers take into account the severity of the crime: That DUI that has been haunting you since your college days may be a black mark on an otherwise clean record, but chances are it won’t prevent you from getting a job. If that DUI is one of many, on the other hand, it may raise an issue with potential employers. According a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 81 percent of employers consider the severity of the crime when conducting a criminal check, 75 percent consider the number of convictions and 73 percent consider the relevance of the crime to the job. Sixty-three percent, however, reported giving candidates the chance to explain their convictions before disqualifying them from the position.

Your credit can be checked during a background screening, but chances are it won’t be: The society’s survey found that although it is perfectly legal for employers to check the credit histories of job candidates, only 13 percent of organizations reported conducting credit checks on all job candidates and only 9 percent of employers said that having good credit was a major influence on a hiring decision. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that even if a red flag shows up on a credit check, the candidate would be given the chance to explain the situation, and would not be immediately considered ineligible.

It’s best to be prepared: Most employers do some form of background screening these days. It can be as simple as checking your references, or in-depth enough to cover everything from criminal records to credit history.  The best way to figure out if there is anything that might raise a red flag is to be prepared. According to PrivacyRights.org, ordering a copy of your credit report, checking court and driving records, searching your name online and asking for your personnel file from your old employer are all good ways to figure out what might come up in your background check. If you find anything that you think may be of concern, raise the issue with the employer before the screen is conducted. This will give you a chance to explain yourself, while also proving your honesty and integrity.

You can also check out SureCheck, a CareerBuilder service that lets you see what’s on your background check before an employer sees it.

For more on background checks, see:

Credit Checks on the Job Hunt: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

  1. I think all of this is getting out of hand. How long should a person be punished for something they did a long time ago. With the exception of rape and or child molestation if it is not a repeated offense over and over then a person should not be penalized for the rest of their lives.

    • I think all of this is getting out of hand. How long should a person be punished for something they did a long time ago. With the exception of rape and or child molestation if it is not a repeated offense over and over then a person should not be penalized for the rest of their lives.,i feel the same way i made a mistake why should i get punished every time i apply some place .how can i be a productive member if i cant get a job??? and im talkin jus a min wage job like kmart

    • I believe that employers are losing out on valuable,hardworking americans because they may have made a few bad misstakes in the past. Remember that everyone deserves a chance to prove they have changed no matter what the “background check” says.

      • I agree with you wholeheartedly! Everyone makes mistakes & need to be given a second chance. Our society is so unforgiving! If a person has taken responsibility for their offense, paid their debt to society, and has made an honest effort to change and to not re-offend, then that person should not be penalized for something that happened a very long time ago. For God’s sake, most ex-offenders are trying to rebuild their lives and move beyond their offense. Let’s give them a chance to do just that.

      • You must not know the laws. I have an MBA, BST, am certified throughout the automotive industry, have many awards from many manufactures, and yet am unable to get a job due to a felony being on my record. As a result of some hometown justice and erroneous legal advice, I plead guilty to a charge of stalking (a class D felony – lowest level). Yes it is a felony in the state where I was charged. It has and had nothing to do with my capabilities as an employee, but was a trumped up charge from a small town listening to the lies of a lifelong resident. The “victim” also received a large settlement due to her statements. $$$ motivated her, not the truth and justice that we have been mis-lead to believe in… The companies should NOT be able to access your legal background except in the case of capital crimes and sexual predators.

        • I think you should have a tough time getting hired. Your story is that you were doing shady things to get something you wanted. Random people just don’t cast blame. You did something that affected her and she was getting revenge. Maybe you should have thought about your actions first instead of acting impulsively.

          And as for your judgment of pleading guilty. If you were not guilty then why would you tell the world you are. Stand up for yourself and have some backbone. That’s another reason I would not hire you. I want people who believe in something. People who do not change with the wind. Your certifications and degrees may mean you are smart. They may also mean you will do anything to look good.

          Integrity cannot be sold.

          • you are VERY naive. People do things like that to other people just because they can – and they don’t think of the ramifications. As the founder and CEO of a $350,000,000 corporation I know that you are the one I would not hire – too rigid.

            My assistant for the past 27 years is an ex-felon who went to jail over a woman in his 20s – and it was a conspiracy to commit murder charge. He is now at the Sr. ExVP level, earns over $250K and has a very stable family life. Oh yes, he is Black (some are wondering, I’m sure).

            I took the time to look into it because he was so forthcoming when I asked him about the 7 year “gap” in his resume.

            • Bravo on your accomplishments. It must make you proud to brag about how successful you are. And thanks for not allowing me to have an opinion that differs from yours. How stifling is that?

              Clearly you are better at business than you are at the grasp of the English language. I said that I think he should have a tough time getting hired. I did not say no one should hire you. I also stated I would not.

              In a way you made my point very clear. You didn’t hire your employee without more information.

              So Jerry, why don’t you tell us the name of your company since you are so proud of it. I might want to know so I can steer away from sending business your way. Wait, your now ashamed of the reality of human nature? Not so secure about the bragging now? Hiding behind a vague post of success without any proof. Now that’s naive.

              • Jeff, you are truly IGNORANT!!! It’s fools like you who are a true danger to society. I’m sure that in your warped mind you are probably a legend and a paragon of virtue. I am glad that not all people are such morons and judgemental as you. There are countless examples of people who have made mistakes…..in some cases BIG MISTAKES in the past and have successfully turned their lives around later in life and gone on to be very productive individuals. It’s really too bad that your self righteousness blinds you from reality. I agree with the gentlemen who hired the ex-con…..I would hire the ex-con over a self righteous moron like you every single time. People who have made mistakes in the past tend to not be so self righteous like you, are more open and will try hard since their lives are laid bare and they have nothing to hide. I can only imagine all the crap hidden in your closet.

                • Funny you think I am the dangerous one to society. I am the employable one who keeps my house in order and I pay my bills on time. I am the one who runs a business without worry that customers will uncover some deep secret. And yes, I learn from my mistakes too just like everyone else. The kicker here is that I do not have to commit a felony to learn how to be an upstanding citizen. I think before I act.

                  Please do not get me wrong, I am not perfect and have done some pretty dumb things myself… but DUI, murder, embezzlement, drug use, harassment, stalking, rape, etc. are not some of them. I have never done anything that would amount to a felony. The occasional speeding ticket comes my way but sadly folks that is the extent of my bad boy reputation. Color me boring but a clean life is actually easy if you just have respect for yourself and others around you.

                  The reality is that I choose every day to lead a clean life and many people here seem to not be able to accept that. I also associate with people who lead a clean life. My friends have never committed felonies. My wife and two kids also lead clean lives (no felonies). They similarly have no skeletons. Any my parents and my wife’s parents also have no skeletons (or felonies). And my grandparents… you know there is a pattern emerging. Maybe the way we raise our kids has something to do with it.

                  We all do dumb things we regret but the magnitude of the error is what is being discussed. Hurting someones feelings, being a jerk, and misdemeanors are not the topic of discussion. The topic isn’t even whether criminals can be rehabilitated. Simply, should felons get a free pass? I say felons should have a hard time getting a job. You say felons should have an easy time getting a job or at least the significance of their crime should fade over time. You clearly hate my opinion. I think you are misguided over yours.

                  • Jeff,

                    You are very right, we should all just live clean, normal lives and do nothing wrong except a speeding ticket every once in a while. However, that’s not the world we live in. I, like most people have made mistakes and went to jail. I have no felonies, I just have a possession of marijuana at age 18 and a DUI at age 18 and at age 20. Yes I am a repeat offender!! Throw away the key!! Yet did you know that a males brain isn’t fully developed till age 25? And for some of us terrible people like myself who read how horrible we are for using drugs and drinking when we are younger that you compare us to a murderer or rapist, well we grow up and change. For some it takes having your freedom taken away or a child being born to really get ” your shit ” together. I’m sorry but not all people are perfect. For me it took both losing my freedom and then when I had a child born for me to get my life on the right path but for the past 9 years I have worked very hard to change and I pray my background check goes well because it would be life changing for me. I also had my oldest daughter out of wedlock, do they need to know that as well lol? I like many people that have made mistakes just want a chance to prove we aren’t that same person. You cast judgement on those who have gotten a DUI or used drugs, you do know addiction tends to be genetic right? I happen to fall in with those who just make bad decisions, but for many its a very hard struggle from the genes they were born with. Try to have compassion for your fellow man, try the saying fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Give people a second chance if they seem they are sincere and deserve it. Not everyone does but some really do. It’s because of my children I truly changed and I only hope for the chance to give them a better life but if my chances rest in the hands of a simple minded person like you I know I should start looking elsewhere. As someone with kids I hope the best for you and yours, but if they make a mistake when they are in their late teens I hope your more understanding with them then you are with the rest of us. We live in a country where we give second chances if your rich enough or have some special skill or talent. I would like to see that spectrum broadened to even someone like me in the poverty level. Probably not, but that is ok, I still smile everyday

              • You are the worst of America. Maybe you should look into moving to one of the third world countries where most criminals are executed or maimed. But then you would have to live high and mighty instead of hiding your dirty little secrets. You are human, so you do have them.

                • I think the punishments should be much more severe, even for something as “simple” as a DUI. Yes, people make mistakes, but they would probably think beforehand if they knew one of their hand would be chopped off… or if their license was forever revoked.

            • Jerry,

              Bravo to you. As a parent of a convicted felon (over a girl in his 20′s) I know it is going to be hard for him to find employment when he gets out next year.

              I hope someone gives him a chance like you did this man.

            • Boys settle down. Everyone is great, and so smart we get that. The truth is, everyone has something that they wouldnt want the world to know, but does that make you a bad person? I dont think so.

              In my younger years (13-23) I was as wild as they come. Never did any jail time, but only because I never got caught lol. Then one morning I woke up and was like “Wow I need to get my stuff together and get my life started.” From there I’ve gone on to do pretty well for myself and I believe that its mostly due to the fact that I learned a lot being out in the world and exploring things.

              I’ve worked closely with CEO’s and Presidents of companies of all sizes, and I am sure that if 99% of them knew me back in the day they would have never have hired me. I dont think any of them would believe me today if I were to tell them all my sorted stories. What I do know, is that they all valued my “wisdom” which I call street smarts, and the fact that I tell it like it is good, bad or ugly with no butt kissing involved ever. I have even been fired because I stood up for what I thought was the right thing to do in my heart vs. what the company wanted me to do because it didnt seem like the right thing to do.

              My point is, that before you judge someone based on their past, take some time to get to know them first. If anyone here can say that they have never done anything that they wish they had not have done, stop bs’ing us!

              • Precisely my point. Just because somebody has a clean record doesn’t mean they were a complete hellraiser (just means they didn’t get caught). So how long do you have to pay for the $2.00 piece of Junk Jewelry you stole back in 1982 ? I think Felons can change (depends on the case). Not so sure about Child Molesters and Rapists though.

            • Jerry, thank you for giving that person a chance to prove himself worthy. I myself have been convicted of a felony when I was 17. I dropped out of high school and became involved with the wrong crowd. Ended up getting convicted for Aggravated Assault a class 3 felony, even though no one was hurt or injured. I did not even have a juvenile history. The state of Arizona felt I was too close to being 18 to be charged as a juvenile, so they transferred me to the adult system. I was gulity for associating with the wrong crowd. I am 34 now and have not been in any trouble since. This mistake I made when I was a kid has completely ruined my life and the world wont let me get past it. I cant find a meaningful job and I guess not many people believe that second chances should be given to anyone. Perhaps if I already was rich, maybe an athlete, celebrity or even a politician things would be different. They seem to get all the breaks. I pray to God everyday that someone will give me a decent job. Its good to know that there are people like you out there. It gives me hope. For those that believe people cannot be rehabilitated. You dont have love in your heart or forgiveness and it is why the world continues to spiral out of control. Hate, greed and selfishness consume your lives and when judgement day arrives. You know what the Lord our God has in store for you.

            • Hello,

              I was charged & found guilty & sentenced to 15 years in state prision at 21. I never committed the crime. The guy who worked in the retail store was a drug addict who robbed it him self. The Local Detective hated me because i kicked his sons ass in high school, andl had this guy say it was me. In court Identification. I was home sleeping. I spent 4 years in state prision for a crime i never committed. I didn’t have a record before my conviction, and never got arrested since my release . I’m a 50 year old man that has gone through life with this BLACK cloud over me. I have always owned an operated my own business up until 3 years ago when i had to shut down my furniture retail store. Due to the economy. Now i can’t even get hired because my background record. I try to stay positive in life. But the bottom line is people judge other people all the time. Can u Imagine spending 4 years of your life with Violent criminals 24 /7 for a crime u never did, and still being punished for it 30 years later. Have a Great Holiday.

            • Jerry,

              I’f your looking for a Quality, Professional salesman. I’m your guy. God Bless you for giving that man a chance. I spent 4 years in state prision for a crime I didn’t do. Ive always owned my own business up to 3 years ago. We had to shut down. 30 years later i still getting punished because my back ground check. I have a 750 Fico score. with a conviction gets me 0. Some times it’s difficult staying positive. Happy Holidays to all your families.

          • I stood up for myself..went to trial and was still found guilty due to the laws of what is admisable in court…the justice system fails people….if i had to do it all over again after knowing what i know..i would have pled guilty and done less time….

            • Jeff,
              You would be astonished at how often people are accused and found guilty like Jerry. A vengeful boss, girlfriend/boyfriend or neighbor can easily file a report that creates legal havoc on an individual. When a prosecutor (in many areas they are elected officials) claims a high conviction rate there are politics behind it. Many prosecutors use the office to further their political career by saying they are “tough on crime.” On television you will see full disclosure of evidence and mitigating circumstances between prosecutor and defense attorneys. In real life, “discovery” is controlled by the prosecutor; leaving many defendents to suffer as a notch on the prosecutor’s conviction success.

              While I have not been a victim of this I have seen it up close. There are a lot of very gifted and talented professionals out there that have found themselves in situations they never could have imagined.

              Each case should be taken on its own merit.

          • Jeff sorry to pile on but I am currently in court fighting charges of stalking, harrassment and assault of an ex girlfriend. Luckily for me the incident in question occured when I was out of state but if I had been at home how could i disprove the allegations? I am still awaiting my court date and have been denied 3 jobs due to the pending hearing. I was forthcoming in my interviews that I need to go to court but that didn’t seem to help. I am 32 yrs old, never have been arrested or charged with any other crimes yet someone’s careless allegations have left me unemployed for 6 mos. Just because you are accused of something or maybe even take the easy way out and plead guilty doesn’t necessarily mean you are guilty and it certainly doesn’t mean you forfeit your right to earn a reasonable living.

        • my husband is also in automotive field and has the same problem with a felony at 22 and he is now 60, with nothing since. He served his time and learned his lesson, over the years, he met good people willing to give him a chance based on a clean record and great work ethic, now in this day of new technology and extreme unemployment can’t get a job because he has to check a box “yes”.

          • In answer to the lady stating that her husband has to still check the box for felons is not exactly correct. Computer’s historie’s usually don’t go back more than 25 years. meaning, if you have lived a decent life, you don’t have to relive something that happened 40 years prior. I think there is also some kind of rule whereby you can have a one time forgiveness of a crime in your life. I believe you will need an attorney to file it, but I’m fairly sure it gets completely removed anyway. If you are not a dopehead or alcoholic like most younger people these days, don’t worry and don’t tell.

            • P Lee: Once arrested or convicted, your criminal history follows you for the rest of your life. Most businesses contract with the state (highest law enforcement agency in your state) to run your criminal history and if there is ANYTHING there (misdemeanor or felony) it will be there forever, UNLESS you get it expunged — that’s only by court order. And, if it was ever published
              on-line, you can forget about it ever going away.

            • In most states you can NEVER have your criminal conviction expunged, unless you were 100% acquitted by the full jury of 12 people. If you were convicted at all, even taken under advisement or given probation by the judge, you CANNOT have it expunged. The only way is to have a FULL pardon by the governor of your state, which is basically impossible. Governors only give 1 or 2 full pardons a year for huge injustices and there are riots and demonstrations in the streets by conservatives claiming the governor is “liberal” and soft on crime. The governor does give thousands of conditional pardons, meaning you still have a conviction record but you just received a “forgiveness” from the state, but you still have a criminal record. It is basically impossible to have a criminal record removed. It will be there even if you lived to be 500 hundred years old.

              I think this is ridiculous. We are the only nation in the world that is so mean and spiteful and hateful that we destroy our citizens lives because they made one mistake in their life. What other country has the concept of a “felon”? We are the only one that does. There should be an incentive to not commit future crimes. If someone is crime free for 10 years or so their record should be completely expunged, that is just common sense. The politicians just want to appear “tough” on crime.

              It’s not like most convicts hurt anyone anyway. The VAST majority of them never hurt anyone at all. So if some 18 year old guy who is barely an adult and hooks up consentually with a 16 year old is convicted as a felon, they should never be able to redeem themself and move on? That is wrong.

              So now Chinese and Indians who could have been convicted of murder or stealing or whatever can just come here to the US for a new life and nice jobs. Do you think China or India has a computer network of crimes so that immigration can check? NO, they don’t. You can be a street thug in New Delhi and be stopped by the police everyday for stealing and there is only paper records. You can now come to the US and then get a nice IT job that another American can’t get because he or she shopliften decades ago. Real smart huh?

      • Excuse me but as a felon from 16yrs ago 1st time offense and never in trouble again and I was never placed in jail for one minute over that felony is nothing to be worried about.. As a matter of fact I should never have been made a felon what so ever but a crappy laywer and to young to know what to do got me a title I do not deserve and no money to do anything about it.. I have 2 kids 1 whom is in college to be a teacher and a teen with excellent grades and wanting to be a correctional worker with a great husband…. So how bad can I be!!!!!! Oh yeah the cop that was trying to make a name for himself over me not only was a female abuser, kicked off the force, wife left him for cheating and he killed himself years later…. But I am the one you are worried about… Whatever

      • Then Unsan you evidently don’t know what forgiveness and the death of Christ is all about. You ever stolen, lied, raised your voice, got angry, had immoral thoughts or had lustful thoughts towards another person (rape in your heart), then this will disqualify you to enter into heaven without the forgiveness of Christ :( Don’t be a hypocrit, receive Christ today as your Savior. You just never got caught, Jesus sees all :D

        • Dale, I am sorry but I have to disagree with you about something. To everyone else I am sorry to go off topic, but this needs attention. Dale, I was partially raised by devout Christian grandmothers and attended Christian school till 10th grade and I have never once heard a preacher, teacher, missionary or anyone else who is educated in religion and the Bible…refer to having immoral/lustful thoughts as *rape* in your heart. I think that is just a little bit harsh as I personally believe rape to be a horrific violation of an innocent victim (no need for more description). We all (men and women) if we are normal healthy adults have had a lustful thought or two at some point in our lives, and I believe it to be JUST that a lustful (yes sinful) thought. But day dreaming/thinking about kissing or touching the man I sit across from at work isn’t equal to rape…in my opinion. I understand that the Bible says if you think it in your heart you have as much as really done it, and I agree with that Word, but to describe it as rape is taking it a bit far and I guess I was actually somewhat offended on a few levels. The rest of what you said is appreciated and I in no way mean to offend or upset you or start a silly debate. Thank you for sharing in this forum just the same. Now, if I am dead wrong and there is scripture that actually presents this sin as you previously described, please correct me with the reference so I may read it myself and I will be more than happy to apologize. I just do not recall ever having read it. Like I said I mean no harm at all. :)

    • my daughter just got denied a job because of her credit report that was done during the background check. I can understand them doing a background check to make sure they are not hiring someone that may cause problems such as a child molester or something to that type. BUT, a person who has had financial problems because of losing their job should not be punished for it by not allowing them another job. Standards must be stipulated so that only crimes can be used on a background check….NOT A CREDIT REPORT….

      • I can understand background checks for some jobs. Credit checks are a violation of privacy. And then what do you do when a potential employer calls your former employer for a reference and they slander you in ways that could keep you from ever getting another job in your field. Even though you know and just about everyone else knows that this person was mean and spiteful. I worked hard to finish my education and become a teacher. Thankfully, my new employer was not so quick to judge and dug a little deeper. I had impeccable references. And the one who did the slandering, she was the boss’ daughter, not even authorized to give out any information. The situation was corrected, but what if another potential employer calls for a reference from this company and gets this daughter again? There are a lot of really good people out there who have made mistakes, especially when they were young. They do deserve a second chance. At some point this behavior needs to stop, and let people start relying on good judgment to hire people who are qualified for the jobs.

        • i have bad credit but that in no way reflects on what type of worker i am.I was at 1 job for 15 years of my life before i got laid off due to lack  of business.i have a great work ethic and currently going back to school but i have dui’s but no felonies.i have been through treatment and have been sober for 2 years.

    • Hey I was wondering If you are under age and you committed a felony but you were never charged and in the future will it ruin your chances to being a Police officer?

  2. Background checks can be a form of punishment because if there is a blemish on your background the only jobs you might be able to get are dead end jobs and that translates into a poor retirement. There needs to be limits to this practice, whether it is a limit on years or offenses, I don’t know.

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  4. I don’t think credit checks should ever have been allowed. I have heard employers say they want to know about bankruptcy to evaluate whether someone might have a tendency to steal. If they were a thief they probably would never have filed for bankruptcy. It is a terrible invasion of private lives in a number of ways, and of course employers talk and gossip just like the rest of the world.

    • You are spot on there, Shelly. I’ve been unemployed for 18 months after 37 years in the industrial supply business. Friends tell me that most of the local suppliers are now doing this (background/credit check). If I ever get to another interview (1 in 18 months) I would make it clear to a prospective employer that I will not subject myself to a credit check. It’s none of their business. I won’t have any employer that far up my ass. One reason I’ve heard is if an employee can’t pay their bills, how can they do this job without fouling it up? Flawed logic…

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  12. I agree, what does a credit check have to do with getting a job? How far will it go, home inspections to see what we do on our own time or on the weekend? The government that we elect are the ones that need a credit check with the way they spend our money then want to put extra taxes on us! This is rediculous, its bad enough jobs aren’t paying next to nothing!

    • first let me state that i think background checks, drug checks and credit checks are overused and even when used should never be taken at face value – in other words, the party in question sholud always have a chance to tell their side. that said it is ingenuous to say they are not of value in some circumstances.

      even credit checks.

      credit checks say something about your integrity. if you gave your word to pay a debt, then dont, maybe you shouldnt be trusted in other respects. also, in the case of people who handle a great deal of money, goods, etc…. in other words are in a position to steal, their integrity and whether or not they are in financial trouble and need money must be taken into account.

  13. The biggest problem I have found is that not all the information is available, I had an allegation
    made, never charged, never arrested never convicted yet it shows up and has prevented me from getting jobs

    • Dennis – you need to have that expunged from your record or have an official judgement issued. Get a lawyer…you can make this go away.

    • Dennis, my daughter is in the same position. Two years ago, at age 18, she drove an aquaintance to a local Kmart because his truck was not running. He went one way in the store, she went to the makeup section, and when they met up to leave (he texted her that he was ready to go), they were stopped at the exit, taken to the office and searched by security. This boy had stolen merchandise on him, but she didn’t and had no idea he had stolen anything, they body-searched her as well as emptied her purse, and found nothing. However, the Kmart security pressed charges against her, and she had to go to court. The judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence or wrong-doing, and she has a paper that says as much. She has tried for over a year to get this expunged or erased, but was told this was not possible, as the case was dismissed so there is nothing to expunge. HOWEVER – when she applied for a job at an insurance agency, they did a background check and there was that charge on the findings. The CHARGE, not the final outcome. She faxed copies of the dismissal to both the employer and the company that did her background check. She didn’t get the job because they still felt she had a blemish on her record and told her so. I suppose it is their perogative to do that, but I think it is a sad state when even being accused of something, and later being proved innocent, is still grounds for not getting a job.

      • She needs to hire an attorney to do an expungement, normal people cannot do an expungement. The attorney has to do a court hearing. It is pretty difficult but that is the only way to get an ARREST not conviction record go away. Each state has different procedures. This is not a conviction record, this is an arrest record. You can only have an expungement if you were acquitted or the charges were dismissed. She should be able to have it expunged because it was dismissed but it will take several months and thousands of dollars of legal attorney fees and court hearings. In the end, she should do it, it will be worth it.

  14. I wonder if employers are doing background and credit checks on the thousands of foreign workers that we all talk to on a daily basis about our credit card, and other accounts. Answer: Probably not.

    • Add the credit reporting agencies to that list of overseas workers. I had a little blip on my credit report that was an error, and tried to get it fixed. I faxed copies of paid receipts, and when that didn’t work, I started calling. Guess who I talked to? “Keith” in India. His accent was so heavy I couldn’t understand one word he said.

    • Not at all, they don’t even check their resumes of job experiences and skills. I work everyday with technical people from India that have the same job experiences and skills and each work on projects that developered software for a DVD distribution company. It is so funny, that I was in a Nordstrum store a couple of weeks ago and an India clerk told me she did the same thing and got a job. She stated she had just gotten laid off and was working at Nordstrum why she looked for another job. We got into a conversation about work and employment and the state of the economy. So, you are right, foreign workers do not have the same scrutiny as Americans workers and are hired strictly from information from recruiters who are working for placement fees and can care less if the information is true or not.

    • You are correct, if you are from India or China (or any other nation for that matter) you can be a convicted murderer or rapist and still get a nice job over here in the US. The US is one of the only mean and spiteful nations where we destroy our citizens lives and not allow them to make amends and redeem themselves after making a mistake. You could be a career criminal in New Delhi or Beijing and there will only be paper arrest documents, no computer records. The US companies cannot do background checks to see if they are convicted thiefs or burglars or whatever. They can come over here and get a nice job, taken from some other American who can’t find a job because they shoplifted decades ago.

  15. i agree with most of this everyone deserves a second chance.no one person on this earth is perfect. i know people who have a felony and you have to give them the benifit of the doubr they may have a good reason for what they did. ithe only 1 i dont agree with is murder that person should be in jail. but maybe the person that did a burgerly needed to feed his family. they commplain about too many people in jail but jobs dont want to give people a second chance they are not god to judge people. background checks is evading your privicey.

  16. The bottomline is that ‘CREDIT CHECKS’ should have nothing to do with getting a job. If the job requires that you handle money as a cashier, bank teller, ATM Technician, or even handling credit cards, then I could see an employer doing a ‘credit check’! My credit rating has nothing to do with my ability to perform the duties of a particular job.
    One guy on another site stated that you need to live within you means, that’s BS! Listen you can save ALL you want, but eventually you run out of $$$. Then what do you plan on doing?
    There are many jobs that i could work at and bring ‘value’ to an organization, but if you need a ‘credit report’ well guess what, it won’t happen.
    Besides, if the person can’t get employment to pay down and correct his/her credit, how in the world can they better their financial situation?

  17. Recently my fiance had a job offer from a company, was sent the offer letter, etc. In his interview and on his application he was truthful about his blemished past and yet was called back time and time again for further interviewing process, asked to provide his educational credentials, etc. At the very end, they ended up not hiring him, even after the offer letter had been received… They had completed the background check… Which he knew was going to be done, and again, had been completely honest about everything… How is this legal?

  18. Where in the constitution of the United States of America; What Amendment; are you given the right to privacy. I know of no such amendment and any court that sides with such fiction needs to be removed. I preform background checks for my organization. A sheet is signed by the prospect acknowledging that a background check will be done. Further; anyone handeling money will also have a credit check preformed even if it is a cashier or higher up. The state in which I live has mandated that certain crimes will exclude you from employment for life.

    • Excluded from employment for life…that makes a whole lot of sense. What are they supposed to do to support themselves? Many criminals already use this as an excuse for repeating their crimes. What state do you live in, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas? Wait until you get a felony for talking on the phone while getting in a traffic accident and we’ll see if you have a change of opinion.

      • tooth – Illinois is where and if you want any type of job with a taxing body you had better not be convicted of any sex crime, drug offense over a misdomeanor, or any felony involving a weapon. Any of the above will exclude you for life. State Statute ILCS 720.

      • Mark – the 4th amendement reads “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and siezures, shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or Affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” That is word for word from the U.S. Constitution website. Where in there are you “guaranteed” the right to privacy? You get so much as a parking ticket it becomes public record. Say you are hiring for a delivery position and you have two applicants; one iwth a clean record and the other has numerous convictions for DUI, DWI, and speeding revealed during the background check. Who will I hire? #1 Better risk, and obeys the rules

        • “The right of the people to be secure in their persons… shall not be violated”
          It’s stated right there, pretty obviously. Regardless of what you read it to be, it’s still interpretted as a right to privacy. That’s why they make you sign a release form to be investigated. And people aren’t arguing privacy per se, they are arguing what should be investigated and held against them as accountable. For instance, I can’t remember the state, but it was just recent that a state government passed a law saying that credit checks are no longer viable unless that person is being hired in a financial capacity.
          And your wording on the state law is skewed. It’s saying that a felony can be used as a basis for termination or refusal of job opprotunity. It’s not saying that because of a felony you cannot get hired, it’s still up to that employer’s descretion.

        • RTS,
          …”SECURE in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against UNREASONABLE searches and seizures…” may not literally say privacy. Perhaps that is because the writer(s) of Amendment IV wanted to be very clear about what constitutes ‘privacy’. It is worded in very ambiguous terminology and as such has been and can be loosely interpreted to mean privacy; in other words it is IMPLIED. Perhaps the wording should be updated for the 21st century. Let’s not split hairs here we can all surmise what the writer(s) intended if we are intelligent enough.
          Yes, anything that is public record is public knowledge and can be obtained by anyone from the courthouse or the library without permission. But there is some knowledge which by law must remain private, for example medical records and that privacy is strictly maintained by HIPPA. We also have civil liberties hence, EEO. However I do understand the logic behind checking the criminal record for a prospective employee and maybe a credit check. Though any information gleaned from a criminal record should certainly be enough to determine whether a person can be trusted with a company’s money. It does not neccessary follow that if a person has not handled their own money well that they won’t handle your money well either. The guarantee part is implied as well, as these are inalienable rights, though our Constitutional rights are frequently violated so there goes our guarantee! By the way that is spelled “perform” not preform, handling not handeling and misdemeanor not misdomeanor. Fundamental to being employed, it should be mandatory that all employees be literate, i.e can spell correctly (or look it up and check your own typing), can speak well, express themselves well and be able to write correctly. Did they check that before they hired you?

    • RTS, it’s truly sad that in today’s world there are still such ignorant people like you. To exclude someone FOR LIFE form employment is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. We should send people like you out to deep space to colonize your own ‘perfect little world” inhabited by perfect little people like you. It is not hard to see that you are a person who has absolutely no forgiveness in your heart for ANYONE. The Bible tells us that we should not judge so that we also will not be judged. It also tells us that we will be measured by the same yardstick we use to judge others. When the dust is settled and we all move on from this world to our final judgement, I sure would LOVE to be sitting in on your trial. I sure would love to see you judged by the yardstick you use to judge others. Even Jesus forgave the worst of the worst and gave sinners the chance to make a change in their lives. I truly pity you sir…..when you are judged before everyone I am sure you are the one who will be found lacking

    • rts, get your head out of other people’s business and learn a little something. the right to privacy is an IMPLIED RIGHT. it is a right that has been recognized and protected thru CASE LAW (the other way law is made in this country besides coming from the legislature) for many, many years now.

      how can i be free to pursue the happiness that the constitution is in place to guarantee if i have no right to keep anything in my life private???

      IT IS THIS IMPLIED RIGHT TO PRIVACY THAT HAS BEEN USED TO STRIKE DOWN LAWS SUCH AS ANTI-SODOMY LAWS FOR ONE EXAMPLE (asking the question “how can i be free if even what i do in the privacy of my own bedroom is not private).


    • You and your company can just keep on what your doing and we will all just pray that one if those perfect souls you do hire burns your a** bad. Do you really believe that embezzlement and fraud are done by those who already have something bad on their record? Think Enron there oh wise one.

    • so a person shouldnt have any employment if they have something simple like a misdemeanor??employers arent giving people a chance to work and prove themself.they are asking them to commit another crime.in god’s eyes we all have sinned and we are all seen the same.

  19. I am a small business owner with my husband and would hire and work with a thief before I would work with someone who does drugs, even recreationally. Things can be replaced people can’t . Anyone who does drugs these days if caught gets a slap on the hand and let go to do it again. Anyone can make a mistake and should be given a chance, after all we only human. Everyone deserves to be treated with some respect. And no I have never been in trouble before. Treat someone with respect and get respect back.

    • You’d rather work with a thief than a drug user..How would you know what a drug user looks like? Because they’re all “Cracked out” …. I’m sure you work with a few and just don’t know what they do in their PERSONAL lives.

      “Everyone deserves to be treated with some respect.” ” Treat someone with respect and get respect back.” ….. except if your a drug user right? ha…

      (and no… I’m not a drug user at all, or have I EVER been…)

    • This is the stupidest comment yet.

      you are saying you’d rather employ somone who will probably steal from you than someone who goes home and smokes a joint.


  20. People getting background checks need to make sure they’re getting fingerprint-based background checks, not just name checks. Fingerprints scanned into the system are read and matched with the person’s criminal record. Name checks only are getting employers sued like crazy due to identity theft, same names, typographical errors, etc.

    • Mary: Not every law enforcement agency is connected to AFIS — like it shows on TV. If you give your name, date of birth and social security number to a prospective employer, he/she has enough to verify whether it is actually YOUR record he/she is looking at or someone who has stolen your identity. Couple that with a “residential” history, and a work history, the prospective employer can be pretty close to certain he/she has the right person.

  21. I cannot count the times I have been turned down for a position due to a credit / background check! As a now divorced, single mother to three children, my EX-husband declared *personal* Chapter 7 Bankruptcy before we separated and left me in a home which was, to my horror, in foreclosure. Not only is a “divorce” on my record, but the debt of $369 THOUSAND DOLLARS he left in MY name along with the home foreclosure is for all the world to see. I was forced to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy myself in 2009. When I had my first child, it was an agreement between my then husband that I was to “retire” from nursing and be a “stay-at-home-mother.” Four children later, divorced with no medical insurance, no life insurance, an immune disorder for which I cannot get treatment, and at least a hundred plus job applications; I cannot get a job! The wonderful “Court” system in Shelby Co. Alabama failed me and my children by giving me a total of $1900 dollars a month. Bills are going unpaid, my credit which I was supposed to be rebuilding is again in ruins thanks to massive medical bills and delinquent notifications for utility and basic living essentials. Background / Credit checks for someone like me and basing a decision as to hire or exclude due to a history for which I had ZERO control of is unethical and unfair. I am not a criminal. I have never had more than traffic ticket. My only “crime” was being married to a man who gambled our savings, our lives, down the drain. Women like me NEED work to live and support our children. I contend that YES, it is an invasion of my privacy. If I were a criminal with a record, I would expect that to be checked, NOT a credit report.

  22. Good grief- this is the problem with people- No one feels they should take responsibility for their actions! There’s always an excuse: had a bad lawyer, it was when I was young, my DUI was a mistake, bankruptcy was the only option for my spending habits, it was the lowest grade of felony, etc. You did the crime or “mistake” so own up to it and stop placing blame on everything and everyone else. Everyone knows laws exist and are in place for a reason whether you like it or not and responsible people abide by those rules.

    Yes, everything in backgrounds are scrutinized as they should be. Employers have the right to hire the best of the best and if that comes down to people’s ethical and moral choices in their past, then so be it. There are plenty of jobs that do not conduct backgrounds for those who are worried about it. If a background is conducted on you, most likely you will be interviewed too and have a right to explain the issues (in the case where you “check the box” on applications for committing a felony, usually you are able to explain yourself and it is your job to articulate the explanation.) The employer takes into consideration what issues are raised and the explanations behind them, whether it was an isolated incident or if you made effort to rectify it, etc, and makes a decision based on that-not just the issues. It’s a competitive job market, those who have squeaky clean records are more desirable, those who have higher degrees or training are more desirable. Take action to set yourself apart, stop making excuses because it is not unfair. “Mistakes” show a lack of judgment at some time.

    Backgrounds are legal. If I were an employer, I would want to know about my employees and the potential risk they may have on my business. Legal records indicate their potential (that doesn’t mean that they will or will not) to commit other crimes against me, my business, or other employees. Financial records indicate the same (it doesn’t matter that they do not have access to cash in a business)- is that person’s financial situation so bad that they may be inclined to steal money from the register, steal clothes or supplies, take a wallet of an employee that was left in the break room, remove equipment from the business that can be sold to make money, etc. Not only to those checks show the potential to commit crimes, they show how people take or refuse to take responsibility to make things right. An example is having a bankruptcy. While a bankruptcy is a negative thing, it also shows that you recognized you had a problem and took a step to resolve it. Having a bankruptcy may not disqualify you for a job- remember you can explain yourself. After the bankruptcy you should be able to show that you have been taking actions to prevent it from happening again, that you are not accruing more debt again, and that you are making an effort to rebuild your credit. Have you learned of an account that went to collections and chose to ignore it, hang up when the collections agencies call and throw the bills in the trash, or have you tried making a payment plan with the creditor. It’s your responsibility to pay it. It’s not the banks fault for lending you too much money for your mortgage and then you got laid off. Doodoo happens and you have choices such as foreclosing and downsizing. That is not desirable and I wish that on no one but you have to roll with it and do what’s necessary.

    Remember that there are plenty of lawyers out there who can offer advice and help point you in the right direction for removing negative issues and helping you to know how to articulate your explanations. There are also a plethora of organizations and groups that can assist and give support for free or minimal charges. Those services include many things from legal advice, resume writing help, shelters and affordable living options, unemployment compensation, financial debt consolidation and advice, etc. Everyone reading this has internet access and the ability to search and research options for help. If you know someone in need who does not have internet access, many public libraries offer free internet access and bulletin boards with postings of city programs that can help. City halls usually have people who can give you info on free city programs that offer help too. Just another resource for you to take responsibility for yourselves and seek help. No one is helpless unless you refuse to help yourself by reaching out.

    Lastly, we people in America need to stop over-valuing ourselves. We all would like to make a million dollars for the job we do and for those of us who have a college degree or many years of work experience feel over qualified to work minimum wage jobs. Truth is, in an economy like today’s, our over-valuation of ourselves help put us in this situation and we need to stop whining about it. We have to do what is necessary to put food on the table for our families and if that means working 2 or more jobs for less pay than you think you deserve to get you on your feet, then you need to suck it up and do it. It’s not fun but you have to do what you have to do (legally.)

    • ive been reading your post, and with a 30 year old felony on my record i see what i must do. use one of your dogooders snn to start a new life. thanks

    • @propopo

      Well written and you have made some excellent and reasonable points, but please allow me to counter a few things. First off, the people who do the background checks are not gov’t or police related of any kind, they are private for profit companies and none of them can guarantee the validity of their information, yet they are enough too condemn a person to undue punishment. If you get a police background check vs. one of these private companies you will see exactly what I mean. Someone having the same name as you (common), identity theft and clerical errors are riddled through these private company reports and are not checked or corrected, where as law enforcement uses more than just your name and social and filters threw the one’s with identity theft as most of them have police reports filed saying so. IMO a for profit company should never have any deciding/controlling factor on our personal lives, that’s what the government is for, if it needs to be done, it needs to be done RIGHT and FAIRLY. A person would be naive to expect this from a corner cutting, typical american company. Background checks would be ok if done correctly. with better rules and limits. Felonies are a huge debate, but simple non-violent crimes of any type should have a limit to which you can be punished. The constitution does mention double jeopardy, how is this not punishing someone multiple times for the same crime???

      Second, you completely ignored everyone’s very valid points about credit checks. The problem is so bad with them now, my state is fixing to pass legislation to bar it completely, yet we still have 49 other states all ignoring this issue. I can see credit checks for some high end jobs, but for jeebus sakes my son had to pass a credit AND background check for a freaking job at McDonalds???WTH , please justify that one and explain how anyone caught with bad credit deserves it and should just suck off the gov’t teet. Half the problem in this country is JOBS, it does us no good to employ only the perfect when that just burdens society more by having to dish out more tax dollars to helping the needy, it’s ridiculous. When these companies outsource 50,000-500,000 jobs a month , I wonder how many Indians and Taiwanese have to go threw BG/Credit checks. IMO this is just an excuse maker, if they can eliminate half the workforce available in THE U.S then they have an excuse to outsource. Just like the excuses thay make over our citizens not having the skills they need so they outsource, what they don’t tell you is they TRAIN those foreigners just like they COULD train us, and give them those skills to do their work. Anyways, I am getting off on a rant lol, but I hope you get my point, this isn’t right how it ALL is going down with JOBS in general, open your eyes America we are quickly becoming a fascist corporatist nation and it’s not Obama’s fault either

      • I never thought about the outsourcing side of things but it makes sense, as well as hiring foreign nationals because you can pay them a lower wage. I have been working for 40 years and I do believe the Credit and criminal checks that are being performed started around the same time as outsourcing of jobs to other countries. Americans have been working in this country for hundreds of years and now it is a problem if you have a criminal record or bad credit. Do you know how many Americans from just 50 years ago would never have gotten a job.

      • You are so RIGHT ON! Companies like Choicepoint and Intellius are run by crooks and they make no effort to remove expunged records. I was going to say that Mr. Safety First Clyde over here is probably one of those Tea Baggers (we should all pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and work three jobs even though we work more hours than any other country in the World).

        But most of the solutions you proposed (like going to the Library) will all be abolished if you get your way.

        And I just want to see you try and get hired at McDonalds since you do sound overqualified to work there.

    • What they are saying is that they can’t get jobs, not that they can only get low wage jobs. They can’t get ANY job! Right on, get the digits.

    • The fact is, there are way too many laws and law enforcement these days. Most crimes are now even upgraded to felonies. Back in the 50′s and 60′s you could do drugs, get in fights, drink, dui, whatever, and you would have such a small chance at getting caught. How many of these FBI agents that are now retiring din’t hook up with an underage girl back in the 60′s?

      These days they spend such a huge amount of our nations budget on law enforcement and corrections that it’s almost impossible to not get caught up doing something illegal. You are probably some lucky baby boomer who didn’t have to live in the nazi present when you were growing up. You probably did just as bad things as these “felons” and “convicts” that you are bashing, but you were just lucky enough to not get caught.

      You think all of the others who don’t have criminal records have never committed felonies? There are many people who have committed grand larceny or embezzling and just didn’t get caught. Just because they were lucky and stayed under the radar doesn’t mean they are a saint.

      They shouldn’t even be able to ask about someones background if it is more than 5 or 10 years old. Who cares what someone did when they were 20 years? As long as they didn’t commit a violent offense and don’t have a victim, it shouldn’t be a right for employers to be able to look into this data.

      We should create laws that make it a felony for employers to look into peoples background and base a hiring decision on anything more than 5 years ago or if it doesn’t specifically relate to their job. Then maybe we can make you a convicted felon and then you will see how ridiculous this all is.

      No other nation in the world has the concept of a “felon”. We should be giving incentives not to commit crimes. If someone has been crime free for 10 years their record should be expunged and not public record.

      Indians and Chinese can be convicted murderers or rapists or burglars and because their country does not have computer based records and only paper ones the companies over here will never even know about it and will hire them.

      These people ALREADY paid for their crimes! They served their due sentence handed down by a court. We don’t need people like you perpetuating this cycle of holding people down years after they repaid their debt to society.

      You really think employers give people the “benefit of the doubt” and a second chance and the opportunity to come in to “explain” the circumstances of their case?? You really think HR does that? Man, you are naive. They just toss their application in the garbage. What a mean and spiteful person you and others who advocate this approach are. A bunch of self righteous hypocrites.

    • i was honest and open with an employer and they didnt hire me because i didnt mention an operating after revocation which was 8 years ago,they asked me on the application the past 7 years.they can do whatever the hell they want.

  23. I have had this happen. I wrote some bad checks back in 1993 and my temp job wouldn’t allow for my hiring because the company says that is a form of theft. Even though they were paid off. Then they got mad because I walked out, didn’t like the fact that I told them if I am not good enough to hire, then I must not be good enough to finish the week out, fu@king commies.

    • Well, last I knew writing bad checks IS a form of theft, You are stealing money out of the pocket of the person who is expecting to be paid for their good or service.

  24. The thing that annoys me the most about this, is Employers rely on this information. I have run several checks on myself over the last 5 years to see what type of information I get. Guess what folks, about 75% of the information is inaccurate. Furthermore, you have no recourse! I have attempted to get three of these firms to correct the information, but they wouldn’t. Additionally, this is NOT governed by any law, or that is what attorneys have told me.

    SO, Employers beware!
    Prospective Employees beware!

  25. I have first hand knowledge of how “the system” works. Over 10 years ago I plead guilty to a felony charge of Receiving A Narcotic under false pretense, 3rd degree felony. I was abusing pain pills and had a dentist friend who would prescribe them to me, then we would split them 50/50. When caught I was relieved as I knew I would die soon if I did not quit. I attended and completed a 2 month rehab program, then had to face the legal consequences. I received a $5,000 fine, 5 years probation, and random UA screens. I paid the fine, did so well on probation that I was released at the 1 1/2 year mark. I am still sober today, my record only has that one charge–No tickets, wrecks, NOTHING. That one felony cost me my job, friends, money, alianating family, now I have a very hard time finding a job as as soon as the felony “pops” up, I am disqualified immediately. I made the choice to start taking pills and take full responsibility but I am now learning the hard way” that a lifetime of good deeds can and will be ruined by one AH SHIT”. I paid dearly for that mistake and continue to do so at every juncture. Some people are forgiving and take into account that it happened over 10 years ago, one employer had me sign a contract that I would do a UA at anytime, immediately if asked. I was asked to do 7 UA tests while I was there, passed them all but was laid off due to lack of work from other vendors. Now, I have to re-hash my past, my addiction, how, what everything. It is like a stain that never goes away. I try to keep my attitude positive but when you are continuously turned down for jobs you are qualified for it starts to wear on a man’s soul. My advice to everyone; One Day at a TIME, hang in there and persevere. It can only get better—Hopefully

  26. Some employeers do not want drug use (perscribed or not) altering decision making capabilities. Relagating that employee to other job duties, short/long term disability, or termination.

    I find this as no coincidence that there is a push to legalize drugs and there is a legal challenge to screening questions like if an employee “has received counseling or treatment for recent illegal drug use in the past year”. Which would move someon from random drug screen catagory to scheduled drug screen catagory.

  27. We can help!
    Running a background check is my profession.
    We have been in business since 1979.
    Check out our website: http://www.PhelpsEmployerService.com
    or email me: rhoste@msn.com

    We specialize in Pre-Employment screening for Companies
    but, we can also perform background checks for individuals.

    Do you want to walk into a Job Interview with a background check already done? Call me, I will run one for you.

    People wanting a job: If you are up front about any type of criminal record you many have, 90 percent of the time, the employer will hire you. It is the people that try to hide their criminal convictions that don’t get hired.

    Phelps Employer Service
    (480) 807-9799

    • You are the last person honestly that I think anyone here wants to here from. No it is not just those who hide their convictions that don’t get hired. As soon as that little box is checked, the app is put in the trash, who do you think you are kidding. It is companies like yours advertising to these employees telling them how dangerous it is to hire without these checks. Go away, your advice is not welcome.

  28. My son has had a simple misdemeanor charge on his record of disorderly conduct. He was defending himself from someone at school who attacked him first. Because he was 18 and the other person was under 18 we had him plead quilty afraid that he would be charged with a more serious charge because the other kid was under age. This kept him from getting jobs when his background was checked. The actual charge reads disorderly conduct with violent tendancies. All he did was strike the other kid in the face so he would let go of his neck. That was the end of the altercation. The school and police decided to charge his because they have a zero tolerance policy for fighting. They do not even listen to what actually happened. There were witness that even told the police that what my son had said happened was the truth. I cannot believe that this charge still hinders his job choices to this day.

  29. One of the main purposes of a background investigaion is to see if there are any areas where a person might be vulnerable to any type of pressure, coercion or duress. Have monumental creit card or gambling debts? that person could be persuaded to do something in exchange for large sums of money. If there is a lie on an application, a claim of education or positions [even puffing up] that were not earned or held, the denial of a criminal, alcohol or drug related incident = there can be a question about honesty or integrity. It is alway better to tell the truth than to have the information uncovered by an outside source.

    • Where are gambling debts going to show up? Seriously? Those who have embezzled the most from companies are those in upper management who most likely would have passed a background check with flying colors.

  30. I have been hit by this same thing. Knowing a background check is going to be done, I always have to ask myself do I check yes or no when asked about being convicted/arressted. I hat the fact that the applications/employers now say “Have you EVER been convicted/arressted.” They don’t seem to care if it was a felony or misdemeanor or how long ago it was. In my case it was a misdemeanor charge of simple battery. My credit has been fine for years but when they ask that “ever” crap I know I’m screwed. I was many times given the offer letter only to be told it was taken back but given no reason why. Well, I know why…it was bacause of the info from a background check that showed something years ago. I think when it come to these check there should be a time limit and/or certain crimes/charges that should be omitted. Also they really need to stop letting these employers use such broad wording on the application. I know employers are losing out on some great people and really in turn forcing some into desparate situations.

  31. Anyone involved with YOUTH, no matter what organization – YMCA,Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts must also go through a background check. Even if your involved with youth at your Church.
    Not as extensive as the check for Government employees.

  32. Felonies only should be the law. I applied for a job one time and the app said they would only check back 7 years , I got a call from the employer asking about a misdomeanor alomst 20 years ago and another 10 years ago. Both a little emabrrassing as I used to be a tad more wild in those days. The app specifically said had you been introuble in the past 7 years. Y are they calling about something that happen a decade and 2 decades ago. They were’nt anything too serious but inagine some of the escapades a young guy gets into when he is out drinking lol. I didn’t have a drinking problem just a problem when i drank. I thought i was hillarious, no one else did.!! at any rate as a grown man now with solid experience and top of my trade I couldnt believe i had to explain a couple of indiscretions. When Do i get to move on ?

    • Here is the problem, and my argument. “Felonies only” used to mean murder, rape, assault, and non-petty theft. Drugs only became illegal in America over the past 80 years too. Writing bad checks or similar crimes were not felonies. The states, feds, and prosecutors keep upping the ante and making up more and more felonies. Felonies should be SERIOUS crimes. Not getting an overdraft for $250 or stealing $300 in merchandise when you’re 18. Should they be punished? Of course, I’m not saying they shouldn’t take responsibility for their actions. But…what I am saying is they should not be penalized for their ENTIRE life and denied for all but the worst jobs…you know, the kind where you are seriously better off on welfare or turning to a life of crime…what other options do you have? Not many…
      Stop the insanity, and put a stop to the government turning everyone into a felon by simply making more laws…

      Having to worry about every little thing you do, lest you become a certified felon, is not a country or life of freedom. It is a life of FEAR and TYRANNY when the government can take your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness with little provocation. If it doesn’t change, I’m leaving the U.S.

  33. I understand the whole background check and what the companies are trying to prevent and the risks they take of hiring people with a not so straight back ground, but what i do not understand is when it goes further then a back ground check into a polygraph test. I had to do both for a position i applied for, passing the background check where they interview over 40 of my closest friends and relative i had to proceed to do a polygraph. Well as it turned out i failed the polygraph, the examiner was trying to tell me i was lying on my application which the background investigator looked over and everything check out fine. After the examiner said i did not pass i was dropped from the hiring process, remind you this was about a year and a half process of doing physical exams, background checks and other testing. I do not believe in the polygraph anymore because i do not think that one person who says they know how to read your pulse rate can tell if your lying or not. I really believe that you can not get a job for your skills or type of person your are now days, it all about who you know.

  34. I too think the whole background & credit check paranoia has reached a ridiculous level. Quite a few posts here are talking about felony convictions and the subsequent inability to find employment, along with the justifications and logic for either using them or not. One thing the “pro” background check proponents need to keep in mind is that what constitutes a felony in America today is not what it was 100 years ago. Sure, we all know that things like kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary, high-end theft, assault, and the other “big crimes” should be felonies, and they have been punishable by law since the Code of Hammurabi in ancient Sumeria thousands of years before Christ. In short, we dealt with the big crimes a long time ago.

    The states and federal government have enacted more laws and penalties for more and more crimes; these are increasingly becoming what many would consider “lesser” crimes but now they become a felony, and for the felon, any felony is tantamount to a civil death sentence. No life insurance, no health insurance, no job, and the list goes on and on.

    These days, bouncing a check over $350 can be considered a felony in some states. My electric & heating bill has been higher than that, and certainly medical bills have been higher…a poor person trying to keep their heat on in the winter, or put food on the table for a family could easily become a “serious criminal” with a felony record….

    Have the misfortune of injuring or killing someone in a car wreck in which there was no alcohol or drugs involved? …just a bit of bad luck for everyone involved? …yep, you can become a felon.

    Become addicted to pain medication and end up stealing or purchasing it on the street? If you have more than a few pills of oxycontin, it will cost you 10-40 years in prison or LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE in Arkansas! Not dealing mind you, but simply having more than the set amount…we’re talking about pills people, and the state has become so insane regarding punishment that they put having pills in your pocket right beside capital murder and brutal rape as a Class Y felony….

    I agree that we need laws, penalties, and prisons to keep the bulk of society safe from those who can’t obey the laws of society, but we’ve reached a ridiculous point.

    I actually used myself as an example for the pills. Yes, I had a drug problem. Yes, I stole a bottle of pills (100 count bottle). Guess what? The prosecutor charged me with a class Y felony that was punishable by 10-40 years or life without parole for my first offense, which was a drug crime…no violence, no assault, no physical or mental harm done to anyone but myself…and they treated my offense as it was rape or murder….that isn’t right and ends up hurting the entire state and nation over time.

    When someone is convicted of a felony, they are relegated to the lowest rung of the social ladder. Actually, the limitations place on the felon today are strikingly similar to those placed on slaves and many blacks during the Jim Crow era. Slaves were not allowed to carry firearms (though some did anyway depending upon their owners and talents…some hunted or had use for a firearm), vote, become independently employed, or allowed to travel outside a certain area without written permission. That is where I take serious issue with it. This is not an exaggeration or hyperbole…I’ve researched it.

    My own experience led me to realize just how crazy all this has become. Through my hard work and commitment to better myself and my situation, I went to treatment for substance abuse (before prison actually), was released from prison, and went to college. I ended up working at a treatment center and completed a master’s degree in counseling. However, due to my conviction, I couldn’t even get licensed as a counselor or cutting grass with a lawnmower! Ludicrous! In fact, I’ve had to forgo any kind of official or professional license because of my legal handicap. Again, it’s a civil death sentence and the list of potential crimes that will get you there are growing and growing…it’s rather easy to earn a felony credential these days…just research the laws.

    Out of a stroke of luck I presume, I was able to finally become a university professor. Thank goodness that our institutions of higher learning are much more liberal and logical in their thinking than some of the people on this board. I’ve been here for well over five years now and there has never been any reason for anyone to think I’m anything but a model employee. I care about my students and act with the highest degree of ethics towards everyone. I am extremely grateful for my job.

    However, all it takes is one mistake to completely undo one’s life. I realize crimes, especially serious crimes need to be punished and that some people cannot be rehabilitated or changed, but many are in prison for minor drug offenses these days. It’s gone way too far and we’re losing valuable people because of it. I knew an engineer who designed F-16 fighter jets who lost his job and went to prison over a small amount of marijuana….imagine the income that is now lost because of these insane laws and what his family’s future now looks like…no college for the kids, food stamps, no home (HUD apartment instead), no private health insurance (Medicaid because they’re poor now), and the list goes on and on. We need laws, the police, and prisons, but only for those offenses that really harm individuals and society. The drug war has failed, and casualties are higher than many realize. We need a return to common sense.

    Bob Marley (no, I won’t reveal my name and employer)

    • Yes, my son received a felony for stealing $303.70 from his employer because the law stated anything over a $100.00 from an employer is a Class H Felony for embezzelment. I know because I had to paid his restitution. Now at 22 years old and a year and half later he still can not get any, ZERO, employment. He performed his probation, community services and paid all fees without any incidents, has not gotten into any other problem and finish a two year degree in IT. Still nothing, not a thing. Were is that fair?

      • Exactly. While punishment is warranted, I have to ask how is society best served. By punishing this young man and giving him a chance to move on, or by keeping him unemployed and in poverty his entire life? Think of the tax dollars, public services his family or future family will likely need since he’ll be broke and unemployed (as well as emotionally and spiritually broken as the years go by and he can’t get a job even 20 years later despite staying out of trouble and going to college). Best thing he could do with an IT degree is start his own business. It may be small at first, but there wont’ be any background checks since he’s the one in charge. Heck, he could set it up to where he doesn’t want anyone UNLESS they’ve been in some kind of trouble! Like Con-Air Trucking company…

        Punishment and justice? Yes.
        Lifelong poverty & misery over something you did when you were still in your teens and early twenties? No.

        seriously, tell him to start his own computer business. You can start out with as little as a few grand (or even hundred out of your garage) and build it up. Tell those employers to take a hike.

  35. People like Jeff are the kind of people on my brother’s jury who sent my brother away for 30 years for a crime he did not commit and that could not be proved. There was absolutely no evidence that a crime was even committed and there is nothing we can do about it. Appeals are not even looked at except if there was something the attorney or judge did wrong, other than that, the transcript is not read by the appeals court. Every attorney I have talked to who read this transcript can’t believe my brother was found guilty. The only thing that can get him out is if the person changes their story cause there is no DNA. Juries say they aren’t prejudice when they are asked by the court, but you couldn’t prove it by me. That is the only way my brother was found guilty cause he is a gay HIV male.

    • Missy Ann,

      I got sentenced to 15 years in state prision as a 21 year old Irish w/m from a middle class family, The states only witness recanted his testomony by saying the detective Lied & made up un- true stories about me. The Judge said well to Bad, I believed u when u said he was the guy. I don’t believe Now saying he isn’t the man who robbed u. The system is corrupt.They would rather up hold convictions then Justice. And let me say this, there are alot of BAD people in jail & they deserve to stay there. I saw people killed, raped, stabbed, beat up all the time. But im a good guy that didn’t allow other humans make me something Bad.

    • You could not be more wrong. I sat on a jury where a 19 year old black kid allegedly assaulted an older black man with a tire iron and I was one of the holdouts that refused to convict him of a felony. It was a white jury in an affluent area that wanted to convict the kid about an hour after hearing the evidence. The evidence showed that the older man egg’ed on the kid until the kid reacted. The old man used his car to taunt the kid and chased him for a few miles weaving in and out of traffic and slamming on his brakes in front of the kid several times. The kid started the incident when he pulled out in front of the old man without having proper clearance which made the old man slow down or slam on his breaks. The old man got pissed and wanted revenge and he even stated so on the stand. We got to listen to this old man rant a little about how some young kid was not going to push him around and cutting him off was not going to be tolerated. The old man got out of his truck at a stop light and grabbed a broom handle from the bed of his truck. The kid was in a different lane two cars away at this point but got out of his car too and grabbed a tire iron. There was an altercation but it was just words without an assault taking place. A witness said she did not see the kid do anything wrong other than pump his arm while holding a tire iron. The kid was an idiot for grabbing a tire iron because in the face of these jurors it was close enough to actually committing an assault that they just closed their minds to the rest of the details. In their eyes, having a tire iron inside his car and then pumping his arm once or twice while holding the tire iron meant the kid was instantly guilty of a felony even if he was only threatening violence. In my view it was a defensive move anyway but in our jurisdiction only contact is required for felonious assault so it did not meet the element of the law. No contact occurred. Some jurisdictions include threats and/or contact so somewhere else this kid might have been legitimately guilty if the jury did not see his actions as a defensive posture.

      This case lasted for five days and we ended up deadlocked and the case got a retrial. I did my part to make sure that someone did not get a felony. I will do it again if the situation warrants it. But, sadly, for your husband, he did get a felony. I can only say that as an American he has a right to defend himself on appeal. If you do not take that right then you face a lifetime with a scarlet letter. He has paid his debt to society and is a free man again. His freedom is what is guaranteed. No one promised fairness in business. If he doesn’t like the scarlet letter working for someone else maybe he should start his own business where he only has to answer to himself and his customers. America is great that way. Even felons can have a second chance and be productive members of society.

  36. What ever happened to the saying “your debt to society has been paid” ? My husband messed up, did his time and went back to living a good life. But in the process got mixed up with the wrong woman who when it was ended turned into a spiteful little shrew. Guess what? Our lovely small town legal system refused to admit into evidence hard PROOF that he couldn’t have done it, nor would they let certain key people testify to this. Back he went. This wench then has the gall to email him recently to “apologize and say that she has changed her behavior because she is married & has a child” HORSE HOCKEY, it was part of her 12 steps for NA that was court ordered!!!
    Now my husband has a hard time finding employment that will pay decently. Thank heavens I had the good sense to take the time to find out what he had done and not write him off because of his background when he first asked me out. I would have missed out on one of the best things in mine and my daughter’s lives!!! And yes because I was a single mom, I did look into what he had to tell me, only to find out that he wasn’t lying!
    Too bad more employer’s won’t and don’t take the time to listen to WHY something happened. Men & women like my husband have alot of value to offer, but if they aren’t given a chance to PROVE it, they will out of sheer desperation and necessity go back to a life of crime. And let’s not forget that these “horrible unemployable” people are someone’s child, parent, spouse and sibling.
    As for credit checks, that is why I stay at home. A crappy economy, single parent and low paying jobs because I didn’t have a mommy & daddy to pay my way for every little thing in life combined with not being willing to have someone else raise my child to work 3 jobs means that when push came to shove and it was pay a credit card or rent, I chose RENT. Oh and for you cynics out there, I married for love, not a man to take care of us….my daughter has a dad and he is a huge part of her life.
    The gov’t needs to put a stop to anyone except for financial institutions and certain POSITIONS (accounting offices) doing a credit check. McDonald’s and the like are in no danger of me stealing from them. Until there is some simple common sense in place, I will remain unemployed and if need be, we will get gov’t assistance. THAT is called karma to the hard-line, nosy, out of control types that think they can run everyone’s life and call the shots!!

    • I understand, but your husband needed to realize (like I did) that once he has been through the system, he can’t afford to make any type of mistake. Associating with anyone that has issues of character or potential problems is asking for trouble. I stopped hanging out with EVERYONE I used to know and didn’t do anything but go to work, school, church, and home.

      Once you’re marked as a felon, it’s a long hard road to simply stay out of the system. You have to be extremely discriminatory about who you associate with and what you do. No mistakes…I haven’t even had a traffic ticket in over ten years now. I just don’t screw up. Only way I could turn my life around.

  37. For all the corporate types and organizational true believers who have fully accepted the established business party line that company policies and procedures are always right, that innocent people are never convicted of crimes, that only financially irresponsible people end up with poor credit ratings, that good job performers never get fired unjustly, and that the information used by credit bureaus is always 100% accurate, consider this piece of news that should result in more questions being raised about the reliability of information obtained for background checks.

    MSNBC’s Red Tape Chronicles (http://redtape.msnbc.com) had a posting today reporting the results of an in depth investigation done by a ID Analytics about the use of Social Security Numbers. The company’s analysis indicates that chances of someone else having your SSN are 1 in 7. That is about 40 million people out there who are using the same SSN number as another person. According to the report, many of these are not the result of traditional identity theft. In other words, the person is not trying to pass himself or herself off as you. They are living their own lives. However, they have gotten your SSN number and are working, paying taxes, and using credit, which may end up being associated with your credit record or taxes in cases where an organization uses the SSN as the primary identifying code number for its records.

    Apparently the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the credit bureaus, and many financial institutions all know this is happening, but are not disclosing it. They are still holding firm to their official position that their records and reports are correct and that if they report something as being associated with your SSN, but it is an error, then it is your problem to try to get the error corrected, rather than for them to take the time to make sure their records are correct. Good luck trying to get the errors corrected, since many organizations take the position that their records could not be wrong, so your proofs must not be legitimate. Ask anyone who has fought the battle of getting their records cleared after someone stole their identify.

    • If the Repugs get their way, some of these “true believers” will get their come-uppance. I truly think we need to form a society or underground economy that does not include them because they are like Pod People (or Zombies) who cannot change and need to be stamped out. All I know is that if the American Economy does not matter to them and all their profits come from India and China, why don’t they want to leave here and go live there. I wish they would all just go.

  38. The thing about these is that you never hear anything about what they turned up, you just don’t get called back. With so many infants on the TSAs No-Fly list it’s hard for me to believe that much of the information available in one of these background checks is actually true, and related to you. But it prevents you from being hired (and employers from getting very good employees). As I see it, these firms that do background checks should be legally required to furnish a copy for the applicant for free, just like credit reports are. Then at least they’d have some confidence the information is sound because someone who knows (the applicant) is able to review it.

  39. Becuse of comething I done 8years ago I couldnt get an apartment I have a three year old child and now have to stay in a homeless shelterand I know when I do try to get a job I wont get that to becuse of a disordely conduce charge whats wrong with the usa they dont subport our people.

  40. I have a simple misdemeanor(disorderly conduct) and I cannot get a job because of it.  4 places that were going to hire me would not because of it and yes I was upfront about it.  Sad that something so stupid and actually something I didn’t even do stops me from getting a job.

  41. 2 background checks have been done on me and both times the matching criteria was first name last name and DOB i have a very common name. both times i was mixed up with someone in New York. i have nver been to NY just wondering if theres a way to permanently fix this?

    • My advice would be to just be upfront that you have encountered that problem before and they need to be more diligent when doing the background check to ensure they’ve actually got you.

  42. I have a question. I have been working for a company for 20 years and I want to transfer. I lied 20 years ago and said I graduated from high school.Im worried they might check my education background.Does anyone work in HR?

    • @semily oh please, just stay where you are. you can’t pull crap like that these days. i think i just heard the collective anguished screams of 20-somethings everywhere who can’t get a job at a fast food place without a degree.

  43. I have question I filled application out on line for volunteer fireparment in which never asked me about my background. I was hired on 3 weeks later the chief let me go and said they found out I had a battery on my record which was 10 years ago I do hold a emt lic. and work with kids what should I do

    • @robdaddy You need to contact the city or the courts etc. so that you can get that charge expunged, since it was 10 years ago you will have no problem getting it expunged from your record, This way when your employer does a backround check it won’t show up on your record unless it’s a military job or high end gov. job  good luck,

  44. I lied on my resume about college, and I entered only my high school info on my background info to be safe. Will HR see this and call me on it?

  45. @Bob I agree with your post but I also wanted to add that whenever a person gets a felony that is drug related they are no longer in their entire remainder of their lifetime eligible for food stamps according to federal law.  So, in short its a civil death sentence while being left to starve to death as well.

  46. I have a question, i got charged with petite larceny a week ago from today. I have been offered a job at a retail store like Dillards, will it show up?

  47. Pingback: FAQ: Employment Screening, Background Checks & Mistaken Identity | JD Palatine

  48. Here’s a doozy for you. After I left my psychotic ex, he PAID someone to pretend to be him and have me arrested for assault. I am 100% innocent and was the victim of his continual abuse. The crooked small-town cops falsely arrested me, stole the posted bail – $5,000 (10% of total bail) and then charges were dismissed before I was even formally arraigned. Here’s the kicker – the person I supposedly assaulted was in jail at the time serving for repeated DUI’s so yes, I am 100% innocent.

    This arrest does not show up anywhere on my driving record, not on any legitimate background reporting site (nothing to expunge), yet every employer I have had since leaving him finds out about it through the grapevine and fires me without cause. To add injury to insult a predator and ex-convict from my last position sexually harassed me on my last job – after two weeks on the job. Disgusting how many sick people will kick you and take cheap shots when you’re down.

    Please note, I am a law abiding, tax paying citizen that was the victim of repeated domestic abuse and a sort of survivor – if this is to be considered surviving.

    I promise you, there is no justice in this crooked no good country. Now I will have to be a product of the system as I have no option for employment and trust me this is the LAST thing I have ever wanted for myself and I love to work hard and make a living, let me repeat, I am being forced into poverty, food stamps and being a product of this no good system based on a lie and out right character defamation.

    This is not one job or even two jobs, we are talking six different employers so yes, most are not willing to do the right thing and not a single one has asked me, given a legitimate reason for termination, or gone about it in any sort of ethical fashion.

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