What you need to know about the background check procedure


There are two types of background checks

Finger-print: California finger-print background check reports are known as Department of Justice ("DOJ") background checks, DOJ rap sheets, or Live-Scan. They are required for California government jobs and/or government issued licenses. Prior to applying, obtain a live-scan background check report on your self through an authorized live-scan operator. This way, you will know what will be on your report prior to your application.

Commercial background checks: commercial background checks are non-finger-print based. Whenever you apply for employment with a private-sector employer, a commercial background check report will be obtained.

How do I know if a commercial background check report was obtained on me?

Employers generally do not obtain background check reports on applicants unless they intend to hire the applicant. This is because background check reports can be expensive.

The law requires the employer to obtain authorization before conducting the background check.

This means that just because you have submitted an online application does not necessary mean that a background check report was obtained on you. Usually, a background check report is obtained only after you have signed the authorization.

In most cases, background checks are conducted at the same time as the drug screen.

Therefore, unless you have been interviewed or are otherwise deep in the application process, a background check report may not have been obtained on you.

How can I tell if I failed the background check?

If after you have been offered the job conditioned upon a successful background check or have been required to undergo a drug screen, chances are, the employer will obtain a background check report on you.

If the employer stops all communication with you after this point, it is possible that you have failed the background check.

By law, if an employer wishes to deny you employment on the basis of a background check report, the employer must send you a copy of the report, a notice of your rights, and an opportunity to review the report and dispute the information before the application may be denied.

However, often times, the employer simply stops all communication and does not inform you whether you have passed the background check. If the employer stops communication, you have the right to contact the employer and ask whether a background check report was obtained. If a background check report was obtained, you have the right to receive a copy of the background check report from the employer and the background check company. If the employer refuses to provide you with a copy of the background check report, ask the employer for the name of the background check company that provided the report and obtain a copy directly from the background check company.

If the employer refuses to provide you with a copy of the report and refuses to provide you with the name of the background check company, call us.

Can background check companies disclose an expunged conviction?

No. Once the conviction has been expunged, the report should be "clean" or "blank." If an expunged conviction is disclosed, immediately contact the background check company and dispute the information. If the dispute is successful, immediately requests the background check company to send the new report to the employer so that you can save your job.

If an expunged conviction is disclosed, you may be entitled to recover damages against the background check company regardless of whether you can save your job.

Do I need to purchase a "criminal database update" to make sure that my expunged conviction will not be disclosed?

No. "Criminal database update" is a SCAM. By law, background check companies must verify your court records before disclosing your criminal convictions. Therefore, if your conviction has been expunged, the background check company is required by law to know about the expungement before the report is disclosed to the employer.

Also, even if you pay for the "update," there is no guarantee that the background check company used by your employer will be aware of the "update." Different background check companies use different criminal databases. Many background check companies maintain their own proprietary criminal history databases. Therefore, just because you purchased a "criminal database update" does not mean that it is the right database that you are updating.

Essentially, when you are paying for a criminal database update, you are paying for background check companies to do what they are required by law to do in the first place! Do not fall for this scam.

What if the background check report contains inaccurate information?

If a background check report contains any inaccurate information, you have a right to dispute that information and have a new report issued. You should also contact the employer and inform the employer that an inaccurate report was issued.

Typical inaccuracies include but not limited to:

  1. Convictions associated with the wrong person
  2. Severity of conviction misreported (e.g., infraction misreported as misdemeanor)
  3. Name of the crime misreported
  4. Expunged crime reported
  5. Same crime reported multiple times

Call us if you have been subject to an inaccurate background check report.

No credit checks allowed

As of January 1, 2013, California employers cannot run credit checks on applicants unless the position is one of the following:

  1. A managerial position
  2. A position in the state Department of Justice
  3. Peace Officer (e.g. law enforcement)
  4. A position involving regular access to ALL of the following (except retail positions involving processing of consumer credit card applications):
    1. Bank or credit card account information
    2. Social Security Number
    3. Date of Birth
  5. A financial fiduciary for another
  6. A position that involves access to trade secrets
  7. A position that involves regular access to cash over $10,000

If you have been subject to credit check and the position you applied for does not fall into any of the above categories, the credit check is illegal.