Background screenings existed before the 1990s, when the Internet started gaining popularity worldwide.
The FBI launched the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in 1998, enabling firearm sellers to screen potential buyers in a matter of minutes.
Now, there are dozens of background checking sites and applications, each specializing in a particular niche.
For example, some provide more details on one’s social profiles, while others emphasize financial status and credit scores.
Types of Background Checks and Why They Are Important
From a geographical perspective, background checks can be limited to a particular county or state.
Federal background screenings search the databases of district courts to expose federal charges and convictions.
Depending on their purpose and focus, background screenings fall into seven major categories:
- Tenant & roommate screenings
- Medical professionals’ screenings
- Child and elderly care checks
- Gun sales background checks
- Volunteers’ screenings
- Pre-dating checks
Pre-employment background checks are the most popular and essential type of screening. They focus on the following aspects of one’s background:
- Criminal & court records
- Identity verification
- Employment history
- Education & professional training records
- Credit score
- Social accounts & forum posts
Why are employment screenings important?
Because employers want to make sure they aren’t hiring the wrong guy. Safe for social account screenings, all other operations in an employment background check require the candidate’s written consent.
Tenant & roommate screenings
Background screenings are instrumental in renting or leasing a piece of property. Landlords run background checks on potential tenants on various websites to make sure they can pay their rent and bills on time.
Tenants, on their part, run background checks on new roommates to ensure they are not letting in a registered criminal or a con artist.
Both background checks are essential because most Americans rent rather than own their homes.
Medical professionals’ screenings
Seventy boards regulate the work of medical professionals in the US, and half of them require mandatory background screenings before they can earn a license.
These special screenings are important because most medical practitioners can access heavy prescription drugs and sedatives like morphine.
So, hospital HRs first ensure applicants have no police registrations for drug and alcohol abuse. Then, they take a closer look at the candidate’s criminal records and education history.
Child and elderly care checks
Childcare professionals and elderly caregivers also pass a rigorous background screening. If you hire one through an agency, it’ll carry out the candidates’ screening for you.
Suppose you’d like to hire a home assistant independently. In that case, you should pay special attention to their criminal record, employment history, and if they hold a valid license to practice the profession in your state.
Either way, it’s always wiser to hire a trained professional than ask your neighbors’ teenage son or daughter to do part-time babysitting or elderly care for you.
Gun sales background checks
The Bradly Law requires every licensed firearm dealer in the US to run a background check on a potential buyer in the NICS database.
A firearm background screening report becomes available in less than a minute. It covers criminal records, residential status, drug abuse, etc.
The FBI prohibits the sale of firearms to individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental condition or dishonorably discharged from the army.
Volunteers to work with vulnerable social groups should also pass a background check. NGOs and charities rely on donations to implement their projects.
So, their managers want to make sure that the volunteers who apply to help are reliable and responsible individuals.
Volunteer screenings pay special attention to federal crime records. A volunteer teaching English in Mali may be trying to escape the US justice system.
Pre-dating background checks
Even without Tinder’s inbuilt background checking tool, you can Google your future date before going out with them.
Even if you only take a glimpse at their forum posts and public social media statuses, you can easily spot potential red flags.
For more detailed reports, experts recommend specialized websites like Instant Checkmate, PeopleCheck, or Information.com.
They can reveal recent name changes, crime history, past addresses, and phone numbers. You should use your best judgment to interpret the results.
Let’s sum up
Every background check is vital because it gives credible and up-to-date information on a person before they are hired to do a specific job.
Human Resource officers carried out background checks on job applicants long before the Internet started but the process was slow and required lots of hard work to complete.