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How Far Back to Go with Your Employee Criminal History Checks

It might seem obvious, but it’s worth stating: Criminal background checks are the best way to keep criminals out of your business or organization. These routine checks typically provide employers with critical information about as potential employee, such as arrest records and any criminal convictions. While this information can be very helpful in determining whether an applicant is suitable and trustworthy, it also carries risk.


If not used properly, a criminal background check can also violate the privacy rights of the applicant. There are different companies that help you do this properly, for example, using something like an afp police check could help you to look into your employee background without violating their privacy rights. To prevent this from happening, be aware of the federal and state regulations set in place to protect all parties involved:


Conducting Criminal Background Checks

When conducting a criminal background check for employment, an employer can either perform the screening in-house or through an external agency such as KRESS. Many employers forgo conducting their own background checks because it is a tedious and potentially litigious process. However, unlike criminal background checks perform in-house, background checks from outsourced agencies like KRESS are regulated by the federal government and must adhere to certain time restrictions according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).


Unless you have a great deal of experience, conducting a criminal background check for employment can be an arduous process involving considerable liability. Most companies who are able outsource the process to a professional firm with experience, but employers should be aware of the relevant time restrictions to avoid any unexpected problems.


Time Restrictions on Criminal Background Checks

In most cases, the federal government is responsible for setting time restrictions on what can be reported in a background check for employment. However, criminal convictions do not have any federal time limits and can be reported at any time. While the federal government doesn’t set time limits on criminal convictions, you should always be aware of any state regulations. For example, the reporting of criminal convictions older than seven years following release, disposition, or parole are not allowed in Texas. However, this limitation doesn’t include job applicants for occupations with a salary of $75,000 or more. In other states, certain types of information such as arrests without convictions are not allowed to be included in a criminal background check for employment.


Time Restraints on Other Information

While the time restraints on criminal convictions are largely unrestricted by the federal government, the FCRA does set time limits on the reporting of other items.


  • Tax liens are not allowed to be reported for more than seven years after it has been paid.
  • Bankruptcies are not allowed to be reported after 10 years of it being settled.
  • Collections accounts are not allowed to be reported after seven years.
  • Any additional negative information such as civil judgments and civil suits are not allowed to reported after seven years.
  • In any case, the previously listed FCRA time limits do not apply to occupations with salaries of $75,000 per year or more.


It’s important that every employer have an understanding of the criminal history check and its role in the hiring and employment process. Always make sure to adhere to all federal and state legislation regarding what can be used in the background check! To rest easy knowing that are regulations have been followed properly, give KRESS a call today regarding your business’ criminal background checks at 888-636-3693. Our experts can answer any questions about the process that you may have.

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