Series: Employment Background Checks – A Closer Look
Topic #1 – Industry Standards – The 7-Year Rules
Author: Robert Perez
In looking closer at employment background checks, it is important to know there are industry standards…guidelines that are generally followed and accepted in the community of like-minded professionals. Perhaps the most prominent of these in the employment background check industry is the 7-year reporting period. That is, a standard employment background check will include research for an applicant only dating back 7 years in their past.
Why 7 years? Primarily because this coincides with FCRA guidelines, which dictate the reporting limit for adverse information in an employment background check report (in most states) is set at 7 years. This means that records dating back more than 7 years may not be included in a background check report, with varying exceptions. These exceptions typically vary state-by-state.
The most common of these is the salary exception, meaning that a background check company can report information beyond 7 years if the applicant (the subject of the investigation) is slated to make more than $75,000 in annual salary. Other such exceptions may be based on specific job responsibilities, access to certain private information and additional security or legal requirements that are mandatory for the position.
But why choose 7 years for the FCRA guidelines? Statistically, most information for any given person will be found in the geographical areas the person has frequented in this period of time. As a result, most employment background checks will begin with a review of the applicant’s residential and work history to determine where to focus their research. For example, if an applicant grew up in New York but has lived and worked in the Silicon Valley region for the last 7 years, the CRA is likely to search for court records in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, CA but may choose not to search the courts in New York. Another industry standard for employment background checks is to focus the research of the investigation on 3 counties/state(s), or “jurisdictions”.
What does this mean? This means that a standard employment background check will cover research of the applicant’s history dating back 7 years in 3 jurisdictions selected by the background check company in this example.
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