One could be forgiven for thinking that an FBI fingerprint database check is the creme de la creme of background checks, the figurative gold standard of all that is out there. Though popular due to being well-known, such background checks are intended for law enforcement, not as an employment screening tool. Consequently, there are numerous oversights that employers should be aware of prior to relying on the FBI as the sole pre-employment background check.
As a pre-employment and tenant background screening service, Screening Intelligence is dedicated to protecting the safety of employees and landlords. While state legislators are to be applauded for their efforts at mandating background checks for many industries, the FBI screening tool should be supplemented with other, more comprehensive measures in order to lessen risk.
Here are three of the primary reasons why FBI fingerprint database isn’t sufficient on its own.
Although television shows such as “Criminal Minds” and “CSI” perpetuate this notion that the FBI fingerprint database is all-encompassing, it simply isn’t true. One of the most egregious mistakes is that the FBI doesn’t always offer information about the outcome of a case. For instance, there aren’t details stating if a case was dismissed, or a record expunged. In 2013, the National Employment Law Project released a report indicating that such inaccuracies are potentially preventing 600,000 Americans from being hired at jobs they otherwise would be perfectly suited for on an annual basis.
Roughly half of all final outcomes from criminal cases are missing from the FBI fingerprint database simply because some states aren’t required to report them. A 2015 Government Accountability Office Report underscored this point by stating that 10 states reported that their databases were 50 percent or less complete; 13 states reported a completion of only 50 to 75 percent; while a mere 20 states reported 76 to 100 percent completion. Seven states didn’t offer any information.
3. Applicant protections
FBI fingerprint database reports do not provide applicants with the sorts of protections that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and similar state laws mandate. Ordinarily, applicants have the right to know what is on their record and then dispute it. Without exercising that right, a person may be excluded from a job due to an error or oversight.
Consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), including Screening Intelligence, go far beyond fingerprint databases to ensure accuracy. Many CRA services will include using personal identification information to examine hundreds of primary sources, such as education, employment, driving records, and criminal history backgrounds with outcome data. When you’re trying to decide what background checks service to use, consider one that provides you with the whole picture.