Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers
  • About Background Screening

    • Q:

      What is background screening?

      A:Background screening, a.k.a., background “checking” or a background check, is the process of researching and consolidating a variety of employment, educational, criminal, financial, and personal records about an individual or organization for the purpose of evaluation for employment purposes.

    • Q:

      Why should I get a background check on a candidate?

      A:You’ve worked hard to build your business and you need to obtain a comprehensive picture of the person you want to hire.

    • Q:

      What is negligent hiring and how do I protect my company from negligent hiring liability?

      A:Negligent hiring is a claim made by an injured party against an employer based on the theory that the employer knew or should have known about the employee’s background which, if known, should have disqualified the individual from consideration.

    • Q:

      Do I need my candidate’s consent to legally order a background check for employment purposes?

      A:The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other state and local laws require the employer to make certain disclosures and obtain the written or electronic consent of the candidate prior to requesting a background check be performed.

    • Q:

      What information do I need from a candidate to run a background check?

      A:In addition to obtaining written consent to conduct a background check, you must first collect your candidate’s first, middle and last name, as well as the correct date of birth (DOB), social security number, and home addresses from the last 7 years if possible.

    • Q:

      What law or standards do I need to follow when conducting background screens?

      A:The FCRA as well as other state and local employment laws come into play in making employment decisions based on the use of a background screening report.

    • Q:

      Why can’t I just Google candidates or use a search engine or people-finder type offering?

      A:The information gathered by a consumer reporting agency is far more complex, more thorough and comprehensive and likewise potentially more compliant with laws and regulations than the information that may be obtained from a cursory search on a web-based search.

    • Q:

      What data do you use to conduct a background check?

      A:Our information is compiled from FCRA-certified resources. Our experienced teams handle the court record checks by going straight to the source (whether on-site at the courthouse) or through appropriate technology. For employment and education verifications, we will determine if the information is available in an approved database or will go directly to the source. Other data sources will depend on the searches requested as part of the background check. We pull from over 352+million data sources depending on the information you are seeking on the individual.information that may be obtained from a cursory search on a web-based search.

    • Q:

      What should I do if I can’t verify a candidate’s social security number?

      A:A social security number (SSN) is important to help validate that a candidate is who they say they are. This process confirms that the SSN provided by the candidate is real and was issued after the provided date of birth. A valid SSN can also uncover past addresses associated with the candidate which may be used to conduct a more comprehensive criminal search.

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      If the search is returned without a match, you will need to confirm that the SSN that was searched is indeed the same SSN as provided by the candidate. Any further verification through the Social Security Administration itself can only be done by you as the employer who has hired the candidate. Your Federal Tax ID number will be required to access that information.

      If you require additional assistance, please speak to your legal counsel.

    • Q:

      Why does my business need to be verified? I want to verify a candidate, so why would you need to verify me and my business?

      A:Because the FCRA stipulates that First Advantage, a Consumer Reporting Agency, can only provide reports to people we believe intend to use the information for an FCRA permissible purpose such as employment and tenant screening purposes, we need to verify that you have a legitimate business need to request background reports.

  • Business Verification

    • Q:

      When will my business verification be complete? How long will it take for my business account to be set up?

      A:Business verification can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days depending on the accuracy and breadth of the information you provide.

    • Q:

      What information do you need to verify my business?

      A:We use the following information to verify your company:

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      • Company name, phone number and address
      • EIN: Employer Identification Number. Help me find my EIN.
      • State of incorporation: The state in which your company is registered for tax purposes.
      • DBA (Doing Business As): The trade name or name under which your business or operation is conducted and presented to the world (if applicable). The following types of documents can also help expedite the verification process:
        • A professional license (Home Improvement, Plumbing, Electrical, etc.) The professional license is required if it applies.
        • Corporate filings with Secretary of State such as Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization, LLC, LLP filing, etc.
        • 501(c)(3) certificate issued by the IRS or state revenue department
        • Valid, in-force Business License (state, county, city)
        • Sales Tax Registration or Franchise Tax Certificate
        • The declarations page of a commercial insurance policy (the 1st page only) OR Phone bill dated within last 60 days & addressed to the business location listed on the application.
    • Q:

      What happens if my business cannot be verified?

      A:First Advantage will grant a refund for reports purchased if we cannot verify you as a registered business.

    • Q:

      How is my personal and business data protected? I am not comfortable uploading personal information online.

      A:Our platform uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for encrypting all personal information online, including your business information and your payment methods. When you are logged in to our site, you will notice there’s a HTTPS, instead of an HTTP in the URL so you can visually see that you are in a secured location of our site.

  • Searches and Report Results

    • Q:

      What is the difference between a County, National and Federal Criminal Search?

      A:There are some proprietary databases of criminal histories which collection information on a nationwide basis from many different sources. This is known as a national criminal database. There are no publicly maintained “national” criminal databases from which the general public can access. Some background screening companies maintain private or proprietary criminal history databases, and others will subscribe to third party aggregators of criminal histories. County searches are very pointed specific searches in a courthouse of the county in which the subject of the search may have works or resided. It is a search of one courthouse’s records. While a national criminal database can be considered to be “an inch deep and a mile wide”, a county courthouse search is “a mile deep and an inch wide.” A federal criminal search covers federal crimes that are federally prosecuted and typically not included in either county or statewide criminal checks.

    • Q:

      If a report on one of my candidates contains a criminal record, can I exclude the candidate because of this criminal conviction?

      A:Consult with your own legal advisors for your particular circumstance. There are laws in some states that limit or restrict employers from making adverse employment decisions based solely on a criminal history. Likewise, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance in 2012 on the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, and on the use of criminal and arrest records to recommend that employers do not automatically disqualify an individual based solely on criminal history as potentially being in violation of the Act. While the guidance is not law, the EEOC recommends specific factors employers weigh when assessing whether the existence of a criminal record is sufficient for job exclusion.

    • Q:

      What if some information in my candidate’s background report concerns me?

      A:Before you take any adverse employment decision, (e.g. reject a job application, reassign or terminate an employee, or deny a promotion) known as "adverse action," based in whole or in part on information on a consumer’s background report, you must provide the consumer a Pre-Adverse Action notice along with a copy of the consumer’s report.

    • Q:

      How much does it cost to run a search on a candidate?

      A:With BackgroundDirect®, you pay as you go for the reports you choose to order. You can select one of our packaged solutions with individual add-on reports that can be included with any package.

    • Q:

      What searches do you offer?

      A:Social Security Number Validation – Confirmation that your candidate is using a valid social security number.
      National Criminal Check - It’s important to know who you’re hiring, so we research if your candidate has been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor. This is an automated search; however, it may not uncover all of an individual’s criminal history.

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      • County Criminal Check – You get the most detailed and up-to-date information by sending a court runner to manually check the candidate’s local county court records, but you’ve got better things to do so we’ll send a court runner there on your behalf if necessary. This information is very detailed, however it can be time consuming depending on the county you are checking in, so many clients select only a few counties to run checks generally including the counties a candidate has lived or worked for the last seven years.
      • Terrorist Watch List Check (aka Global Sanctions) – We’ll validate that your candidate isn’t a known terrorist, drug trafficker or importer of weapons of mass destruction.
      • Sex Offender Registry Check - We’ll check if your candidate is on a sex offender registry.
      • Education Verification – We’ll call the schools you specify directly and verify your candidates’ educational background.
      • Employer Verification - Sometimes candidates enhance their resume; we’ll contact any previous employer you specify to verify your candidate’s position.
      • Motor Vehicle Records Check – If your candidate is driving a company vehicle you’ll want to ensure they have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving history.
    • Q:

      How do I get my results?

      A:We’ll notify you as soon as the results are in via email. Your results can be found when you sign in to BackgroundDirect®.

    • Q:

      How long does it take to get my results?

      A:Delivery time varies based on the searches you are running on a candidate; however, before you will receive your first full report we need to validate your business. Don’t worry though, you can still order reports and we will email you as soon as your business is verified so that you can check your results.

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      The fastest reports we offer are in the Choice package; they will usually be returned within 24 hours. The Plus package can take slightly longer do to the complexity surrounding an on-site county criminal record check and Terrorist Watch check; this typically takes 1-3 days. The Premium package, which is the most comprehensive, can take up to 3-5 days to complete.

      Every time you conduct a new search we’ll provide you an estimated time for completion, but you’ll be able to view each section of the report as the results are returned instead of having to wait for everything to be finished. We’ll show you the average turnaround times for the different reports you select when you place your order.

    • Q:

      Where can I find old reports?

      A:Reports will archive automatically after 90 days. To review your reports you can click on “View Archived/Older Reports”.

    • Q:

      Do I get a hard copy of my reports?

      A:No, your reports are only available online.

    • Q:

      Does your system allow me to save search results on my hard drive?

      A:Yes, you can save your report to your hard drive.

    • Q:

      How do I know what parts of my report are complete?

      A:BackgroundDirect® will send an email each time a part of your report is completed. You can check the report throughout the screening process and you can always see the status of your report on the Candidate Report Vault located at the bottom of the screen on the product homepage.

    • Q:

      Is my candidate’s sensitive information stored securely?

      A:Of course! Our platform uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for encrypting all personal information online, including your candidate’s information and your payment methods.

    • Q:

      How do I check the status of my report?

      A:You can check the status of your report by visiting the Candidate Report Vault located at the bottom of the screen on the product homepage.

  • Adverse Action

    • Q:

      What is Adverse Action?

      A:Adverse action refers to an adverse employment decision based in whole or in part on the content of the consumer’s background screening report. Examples of adverse action include, denial of employment or any other decision for employment purposes that adversely affects any current or prospective employee.

    • Q:

      What is required to take Adverse Action?

      A:Following the pre-adverse action notice, after a reasonable period of time has passed, the employer is required to issue an Adverse Action notice which should include certain required pieces of information include the name and contact information for the consumer reporting agency and the ability to obtain a copy of the consumer report.

    • Q:

      Under the FCRA, what information must be excluded from background reports?

      A:Employers should be aware that the FCRA-- as well as state law -places limitations on information that can be reported by a background screening company.To comply with employment law, consumer reporting agencies cannot include certain items in a consumer report.

    • Q:

      What is the governing body that determines what I can and cannot do when conducting an employment related background check?

      A:The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has rulemaking authority under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the FCRA.In addition, enforcement of state and local laws and regulations may have other agencies or law enforcement authority.

  • Consumer Disputes

    • Q:

      What are consumer disputes?

      A:The phrase “consumer dispute” encompasses broad areas of the law involving a challenge that a consumer may have against a retailer, a manufacturer, a wholesaler, or any company selling a product or a service. In the context of a background screening report, it refers to the consumer’s challenge or dispute about the accuracy of the content in the consumer’s background screening report.

    • Q:

      What can a candidate do to dispute information that has shown up on their background report that they feel is inaccurate?

      A:Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company and the information provider are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.

  • Account Management

    • Q:

      Is there a minimum monthly cost associated with my account?

      A:There are no hidden costs to use our product. Once you have paid the $20 one-time, non-refundable registration fee at sign-up, you pay as you go for the reports you choose.

    • Q:

      How do I change my login credentials?

      A:You can change your login credentials by logging into your account and selecting “Update User Information.”

    • Q:

      Can I add or remove users on my company account?

      A:Unfortunately at this time you can only have one user per account. Don’t worry though you’ll be able to add more shortly. We’ll notify you when you can add users.

    • Q:

      What should I do if I have trouble signing in to my account?

      A:You can reset your password on the login page. If you continue to have problems, please call our Customer Service at 1-844-244-4756.

    • Q:

      How can I manage my company information?

      A:Should you need to update your company information, simply login to your account and click “Update Account Information”.

    • Q:

      I haven’t received notice that my report is ready. What should I do?

      A:You can check the status of your report by logging into your account and scrolling down to the Candidate Vault. If you have additional questions, please call Customer Service at 1-844-244-4756.

  • Billing

    • Q:

      How can I find transactions in my billing history?

      A:You can find your billing history by visiting the Payment History section under your account.

    • Q:

      Can I export my billing history?

      A:At this time we do not have this feature. We will be expanding this in a later phase.

    • Q:

      What is the setup fee and why do I need to pay it?

      A:There is a $20 one-time, non-refundable registration fee at sign-up that covers setting up your account, verifying your business and use of consumer reports, and getting your dashboard ready. After that, you pay as you go for the reports you choose to order.

    • Q:

      How do I get billed or charged?

      A:We will charge the payment card you have on file or a new payment card you add to the application at the time you select the package and add-ons that you want and provide your candidate’s information.

    • Q:

      How do I change my payment method?

      A:You may change your credit card by visiting the Payment Preferences section or by changing the default payment method during the checkout process.

    • Q:

      Is my credit card information secure? How is it protected?

      A:Yes, First Advantage considers the protection of information and systems a critical part of our business. The data security program for First Advantage is built to preserve the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and systems. Our comprehensive Information Security Policy is based on internationally-accepted information security standards (ISO), as well as by PCI DSS (payment card information data security standards), EU (European Union) data privacy directives, and other relevant federal, state, and international regulations and standards.