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These days, criminal background checks are just a fact of life for both job seekers and employers. The simple truth is that there are significant liabilities associated with employing someone, especially in safety-sensitive positions. If a person with a serious criminal background is hired and becomes responsible for an injury, accident, assault, theft, or fraud at work, that person’s employer can potentially be sued for hiring him or her and thereby enabling them to cause the problem in the first place. That’s why criminal background checks and standard operating procedure for a majority of employers in the U.S.


What’s often less well understood are the privacy issues surrounding criminal background checks. Is the information contained in them public, or private? As the experts on pre-employment screening services, KRESS receives this question a lot! Here is what we tell people.

  1. Criminal records are public information.

KRESS and other criminal background check providers conduct our checks using various government records and databases. This is why we cannot perform a criminal record search using only a social security number. Criminal records searches are conducted using name and date of birth, with the SSN as an additional identifier. The SSN is often excluded from criminal records because they are a matter of public record.

  1. A criminal records check provides an applicant’s full criminal record to employers.

Because so many employers must comply with regulations and mitigate risks surrounding the employment of candidates with criminal records, KRESS fields many questions regarding what is actually covered by a criminal records check. The answer is pretty simple: A pre-employment criminal records check will reveal a job applicant’s criminal record if they have one. Criminal records checks generally return felony, misdemeanor, and certain traffic offenses (such as DUIs) and infractions that occurred within the reporting window allowed under state and federal law.

  1. Sometimes, criminal records include mistakes or inaccuracies.

Although KRESS takes every precaution to ensure that the criminal records information we report is accurate and belongs to the subject in question, there is still the possibility that errors can occur due to the human element involved with filing and retrieving court records. It’s possible that someone with a criminal record has the same name, date of birth, or other identifiers as a job candidate completely unconnected to them, which may occasionally result in a false hit. Additionally, identity theft can result in surprise criminal charges on a job seeker’s record.

If errors are found in an applicant’s criminal background check, it is the job applicant’s responsibility to correct them. The job applicant should be sure to call the relevant parties to fix those issues as soon as possible. All job candidates are guaranteed the right to dispute the results of a background check conducted by KRESS or any other provider under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

If you have any questions about how KRESS works to ensure thorough, accurate, and compliant criminal background checks for our clients, please contact us today and ask away. That’s what we’re here for! We take pride in offering premium background check services to business and organization of all sizes in many different industries.