Frequently Asked Questions
Pre-Employment Background Screening
Why conduct a background check during pre-employment screening?
Pre-employment screening is not a sign of mistrust or an invasion of privacy, but rather an important step in protecting your company from the risks that come with an untrustworthy employee. Employers cannot rely on resumes alone to determine which candidates will make good employees. According to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, 56% of applicants’ resumes contain one or more significant discrepancies. Simply having a background check policy in place encourages applicants to be more forthcoming in their resumes and interviews. While a pre-employment screening policy does not guarantee that all “bad” applicants will be weeded out, it does provide employers with the hard data they need to help make informed hiring decisions.
What is negligent hiring?
If an employee harms someone on the job, his employer can be charged with negligent hiring if a court determines the employer knew or should have known through a background check the employee was dangerous. Employers are increasingly being held responsible for negligent hiring, and more than 70% of employers involved in negligent hiring cases lose their lawsuits.
How can I avoid being accused of negligent hiring?
Employers can show that they practice the due diligence required to avoid negligent hiring by having solid pre-employment screening practices in place. Most pre-employment screening programs include a criminal background search conducted at the court for each place the candidate has lived for the last seven years. Employers should also verify work history at each company the applicant has worked for the last seven years. All degrees and licenses claimed by the applicant should also be verified. These simple steps may be enough to show that an employer took reasonable precautions before hiring an applicant.
What do I need to conduct a background check?
Once you have completed our new account application, you are able to order background checks using our user-friendly, web-based software system. Employers also have requirements under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act as well as some state consumer reporting laws. Those requirements are covered in answers to other FAQ’s listed on this page.
Do I need an applicant’s authorization to conduct a background check?
Yes. A disclosure to your applicant that you are going to procure a background check is required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, the disclosure must be made using a separate document that consists solely of the disclosure statement and may also include authorization language.
Do I have to supply my applicant’s date of birth?
Yes. Next to the applicant’s legal name, the date of birth is the most important identifier used in pre-employment screening. Most courts use it as a primary identifier, and some actually require it to process a record search.
What are my obligations as an employer under the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires employers that procure a background check from a consumer reporting agency that will be used in a hiring decision to disclose to the candidate that a background check will be conducted. If the background check contains items of information that may cause you to make a hiring decision that will adversely affect your candidate for employment, you must provide the candidate with a letter advising that adverse action may be taken, include in the letter the name, address and telephone number of the consumer reporting agency that prepared the report, provide a copy of the background check report, and also provide the FCRA summary of consumer’s rights document that explains the rights consumers have under federal law. This gives the candidate an opportunity to dispute any inaccuracies that may be part of that report.
How far back do your criminal record searches go?
All criminal record searches go back seven years.
The length at which records can be searched depends on the record bearer. For example, some courts allow for a quick and efficient search of their records further back than 7 years. The length at which criminal records can be reported to a customer of a consumer reporting agency depends on the type of information being reported as well as applicable federal and state laws that contain prohibitions on reporting certain types of information. As an industry standard, criminal conviction searches date back 7 years.
How long does a background check usually take?
Criminal record searches typically take between 24 and 48 hours to report. However, a number of factors can affect the length of time a search takes; including, the need to match an applicant’s identifiers to court records, the lack of identifiers like date of birth or Social Security Number, common applicant names, court holidays, and multiple records for the same applicant. With our user-friendly, web-based software, you will have access to updates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How will I receive my background check information?
We offer the most comprehensive, full-featured, web-based software system on the market. This system is free to all our clients. It requires no set-up fees, no software to buy and no upgrade. You will receive email notifications when an order is placed and when the order has been completed. You will have access to the system 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Because the system is Internet-based, it is paperless and will give you access to your records two years after the search was ordered.
Can I expect my background check to be 100% foolproof?
No pre-employment screening firm can guarantee that all information on its reports is 100% accurate simply because we must rely on information source for that accuracy. For example, data will not show up if it was incorrectly entered or missing from the legal system in the first place, if a county does not report its information to the correct agency or if an applicant gets through the legal system using false identifiers. However, we are committed to training and developing the industry’s finest pre-employment screening personnel who adhere to the highest quality standards so we can provide the most accurate reports possible to our customers. We earn our customers’ trust by putting them first and providing them with honest, dedicated service.
How much does a background check typically cost?
Pre-employment screening is a very diverse and complex process requiring access to numerous information sources. Generally speaking, a background check costs far less than the new employee’s first day of work, but your cost will vary depending on your customized package. Our pre-employment screening consultants can help you build a background check program unique to your organization that is efficient, cost effective and offers the integrity all employers
Tenant Background Screening
Why conduct a background check during a tenant rental process?
The flip side of renting out real estate is not renting out real estate, i.e., vacancies. When you have a vacancy, no one is paying for that empty space but you, through your mortgage, insurance, and all the expenses that go with making sure the place does not collapse through neglect. But filling a vacancy is easy. Filling a vacancy with a tenant who will pay the rent on time, not annoy neighbors, and keep the property in decent shape is not so easy.
In order to weed out prospects that are likely to become headaches in the future, you need a plan. This plan is your system for screening the prospects. Without a plan you are just taking a shot in the dark. In addition, given the current state of the law, it is illegal to treat applicants differently on the basis of race, sex, religion, and other characteristics. A plan that you follow consistently will help you avoid getting into difficulty for doing this, or seeming to do it.
Should I screen relatives and friends?
Yes, definitely. It is a cliché that the nastiest disputes are between relatives and former friends. You will need the information you verify through credit checks, etc., whether you are friends with the prospect or not. Whether you lower your standards to help out a friend or relative is up to you, but at minimum you should have the information on hand, just in case.
Do I need a signed release from the tenant?
Absolutely! Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a landlord must have a separate and distinct tenant release clearly stating that the tenant gives permission to run a credit report and criminal record search. We also suggest that the landlord review a picture ID.
How do I know if the information the tenant writes on the application is truthful?
You don’t. Although an application is extremely helpful, always verify the information through an independent source. For example, rather than calling the telephone number provided by the tenant, use the Yellow Pages or directory assistance. Be sure to talk to Human Resources. Call your county auditor’s office to verify the name of the owner of each of the tenant’s past addresses. Then give the real owner a call. Ask the landlord if he would rent to them again. Did they give proper notice? Did they leave the property in good condition? Did they have pets? Did they pay on time and as agreed?
What does a credit report tell me?
A credit report is one of the most important components in your tenant screening process. It serves to establish credit worthiness and show ON TIME or DELINQUENT PAY HABITS. A credit report can also assist in establishing the identity of your prospective tenant by comparing their personal information to that entered on the rental application.
How helpful is the tenant’s credit score?
We don’t consider it useful. If you were a mortgage company or a car dealership, the score would be important. However, a landlord must look at each line item of the credit report. The landlord must review the report and ask themselves why the score was low. If it is because of medical bills, foreclosure or a discharged bankruptcy, the tenant may still be an excellent candidate. Look at the entire picture, not just a score.
Why do I need an eviction report?
Your rental property is probably one of your largest assets. Why let a stranger move in and impact your life for the next 12 months? Now is the time to conduct a thorough due diligence investigation, not after the person has moved in and wrecked your home! People are evicted for reasons other than non-payment of rent; drug activity, noise ordinance and health code violations. What a tenant has done in the past is what they are going to do in the future.
What should I do if I decide not to rent to the applicant?
Decline your prospective tenant’s application to rent properly. Be sure to provide the applicant(s) with an “Adverse Action” letter for any action other than an approval on standard terms (i.e. an additional deposit, cosignor, or declined application). Know your local, state and federal laws regarding the use of consumer reports. In some states, you must also provide a copy of the credit report to the applicant.
LiveScan Digital Fingerprinting
What is LiveScan fingerprinting?
Live scan fingerprinting refers to both the technique and the technology used to capture fingerprints electronically, without the need for the more traditional method of ink and paper. LiveScan fingerprinting provides an automated service for criminal history background checks that may be required as a condition of employment, licensing, certification, adoptions or volunteering.
What do I need to bring with me to my fingerprinting appointment?
You will need to bring (1) the ORI number for the agency that has originated the fingerprint-based background check request; and (2) a valid photo identification. (i.e. driver’s license or ID card, passport, military identification). An out-of-state identification is acceptable as long as it is still valid.
What is an ORI number?
The ORI number, or Originating Agency Identifier, identifies the agency that has originated a request. It is an alpha-numeric code assigned to an authorized agency and once inputted into the LiveScan system, it determines where the results of the background check will be sent. Please be advised that we will not provide or look up any ORI numbers in our office. If you need to obtain your ORI number, please contact the agency that has told you that you must undergo a fingerprint-based background check.
What are the fees associated with LiveScan fingerprinting?
The fees vary depending on the reason for fingerprinting. The fee is usually comprised of an FDLE submission fee, an FBI submission fee and a provider rolling fee. All appropriate fees are listed during scheduling process.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Payment is due at the time of fingerprinting. We accept cash or credit/debit cards with Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express logo. Please be advised that we DO NOT accept checks.
What if my requesting agency requires photo submission at the time of fingerprinting?
Some states agencies now require photo submission during fingerprinting. If that is the case, we have a small photo studio in our office and will take the photo during the fingerprinting appointment. There will be an additional photo capture fee included in your fingerprinting fee. If you are required to have a photo submitted at time of fingerprinting, please refrain from wearing hats or heavy makeup to your appointment.
How long before the requesting agency receives my results?
Most results are available within 72 hours of transmission. For security and privacy reasons, MacData Background Screening does not have access to the results of your background check.
What do I do if my fingerprints were rejected?
Rarely fingerprints get rejected; however, there are a number of reasons fingerprint submissions can be rejected. The most common reason is lack of fingerprint ridge detail. This can be caused by professions that work with corrosive or abrasive materials such as cleaning materials, stone work, etc. Another factor may be age. As a person ages, sometimes fingerprint detail is lost. Approximately 1-5% of the general population is affected by this issue. If an applicant’s fingerprints are rejected on this basis, MacData Background Screening will re-take the applicant’s fingerprints at no additional cost. You will receive a letter of rejection from your requesting agency, containing a TCR (Transaction Control Reference) number that is necessary for resubmission. You will need to bring this letter with you to your appointment.
Can you please send the results of my background check to another agency (or person)?
No. When you are fingerprinted, the record is submitted with the ORI you provided. That number indicates which agency is authorized to receive the results of your background check. The FDLE and FBI conduct the criminal history record check and send the results directly to the authorized agency. MacData Background Screening never has access to the results of your background check. If another agency or company is requiring you to complete a background check, you’ll need to register using the new ORI and complete the fingerprinting process for the new requestor.
We have a large group of people that need to be fingerprinted at the same time, are you mobile?
Mobile services are available for groups of 10 or more within Volusia and Flagler counties. For smaller groups, there is a nominal travel fee. Contact our office for more information.