Background Screening FAQs

What applicant information should I provide when submitting a search request?

  1. Full Name
  2. Social Security Number
  3. Date of Birth
  4. Address*
  5. Driver's License Number*
  6. Employment/Education Information

* Required for credit report, motor vehicle record and verification items, respectively.

Must I supply applicant's dates of birth?

Date of birth is critical to the criminal record search process. The majority of courts use date of birth as a primary identifier, but please note that a handful actually require this piece of information to process requests. However, ABI offers alternative options to customers who are unable to supply this information. Date of birth information may be confidentially submitted to our Quickapp feature that forwards applicants to an internal 128-bit SSL encrypted website where they are prompted to enter the needed information.

What are the advantages of a researcher network?

Some background screeners rely solely on compiled databases for criminal and other information because of its low cost. Unfortunately, there is an inevitable lag between when the data is recorded at the courthouse and when the compiled database is updated. In addition, the compiled databases usually include only a subset of the full court record. At ABI, we go back to the original source - the courthouse - for the up-to-the-minute, comprehensive record, including disposition dates, applicant identifiers and case outcomes, information that is critical to a sound, defensible hiring decision under federal and state law. While compiled database searches can be a tempting shortcut, they don't provide the accuracy and defensibility that are the primary goal of background screening.

Why do some real-time criminal records take longer than others to be returned?

  1. The need to match legally insulating applicant identifiers against court paperwork
  2. The need to sort through multiple possible records
  3. Common applicant names
  4. Lack of customer-supplied dates of birth
  5. Court holidays/closures

What quality control measures are in place to ensure the integrity of the information reported?

In addition to ABI's Vendor Integrity Program (VIP), which regularly monitors our searcher network for accuracy and response time through blind tests, received criminal case information is scrubbed on multiple levels internally by our staff to confirm complete disposition information, acceptable identifiers and federal and state reporting scope guidelines. Further, following completion of these steps, prior to official release management again reviews criminal records before they are approved for forwarding to the customer.

What can I do to improve my turnaround time?

  1. Ensure legibility and completeness of application/submission forms
  2. When applicable, provide full company/institution name, address and phone number
  3. Avoid abbreviations and addresses lacking street numbers
  4. Provide full applicant information as listed above, including maiden names/aliases when applicable

What are my obligations as an employer under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?

  1. Obtain a signed release from the applicant prior to conducting any type of background investigation
  2. Keep an applicant summary of rights on file along with individual applicant reports for a minimum of five years
  3. If considering adverse action, provide the applicant with a copy of the report and applicable summary of rights prior to taking any adverse action

EEOC Guidelines

Questions to Consider under EEOC Guidelines

  1. Do you have knowledge that the applicant actually perpetrated the offense?
    Per the EEOC, employers are required to (1) provide the applicant with the option to explain the events surrounding his/her arrest(s) and (2) take reasonable measures to confirm the validity of his/her explanation prior to denying employment.
  2. What is the nature and severity of the offense?
    The law requires that employers consider the type and degree of the offense(s) in question. Rather than grouping all crimes into one category and creating an across-the-board policy, the EEOC prefers that employers recognize the difference between, for example, a jaywalking violation and grand theft charge.
  3. How long ago did the offense occur?
    Though no specific guidelines exist, the EEOC suggests that employers consider the time that has passed since the offense occurred. To illustrate, a more serious offense such as murder would typically remain pertinent for a longer period of time than would a disorderly conduct charge. However, keep in mind that the Fair Credit Reporting Act also contains limits on the age of information used.
  4. What is the nature of the position being applied for?
    Employers must weigh the relevance of the criminal information with the type of position being applied for. A felony assault charge against an artist who would potentially work alone from his/her home may not be as pertinent as it might be for an individual applying for a live-in nursing position.

Effective Date: 03/11/2017