How Far Back Does a Background Check Go?

It is understandably an uncomfortable process to have to undergo a background check. The fact that someone is taking a peek into your past life can cause an individual to develop anxious feelings about it. There is a common belief that we should leave the past in the past and only focus on the present. With that in mind, how far back does a background check go? We will be taking a look at the answer to this question in the article below.

What is the Background Check Process Like?

It can be helpful to gain a general overview of what the process is like on the side of the observer. For example, if you have just completed a successful job interview, the employer may ask you to agree to undergo a background check. At that point, the employer can give your name and details to a third-party background check service such as Check People.

The information that gets confirmed during a background check depends on the job and what tasks you will perform. If you are working with a vulnerable population, the check will be more thorough to ensure you are trustworthy. In a typical check, a representative from the service will contact a credit bureau to obtain your financial position, call your old companies to verify your employment history, and search federal and state criminal records for any sign of crimes you may have committed.

How Far Back Do Bankruptcy Filings go?

If you have an interest in working in the field of financial management or law, someone will likely be looking at your records to see if you have ever filed for bankruptcy. They will want to make sure that you have good financial skills, particularly if you are handling clients’ lifetime savings or investments. Background checks can only see bankruptcy filings from within the last 7 or 10 years, depending on which state you live in.

How Far Back Do Criminal Records go?

If you committed a misdemeanor in the past, you may have worries about it resurfacing when you apply for a new job. Juvenile crimes or any records that have been court-sealed will not appear on a background check. Typically, misdemeanor criminal records from within the past 5, 7, or 10 years will show themselves on a background check.

If you got arrested for a crime but were not officially found guilty, some states would not show these records at all. These states include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New York

Felony crimes will always show up on a background check unless the state specifically has a limit of 7 or 10 years.

How Far Back Do Driving Records go?

Driving records have a broader range and sometimes do not even come up in background checks. If you are applying for a truck driving job, for example, the check would also include traffic violations that you may have committed and all your past driving records. As a general rule of thumb, driving records from the last 3-10 years can show up on your background check, depending on the state you live in.

Tips for Background Checks

A good tip to remember is that you should always be honest on your resume and in your job interview. If there is something in your past that you are not proud of, your potential employer is probably going to find out about it during the background check. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, you may want to talk about the issue during the interview. The employer will appreciate your honesty, and the two of you may be able to talk through the situation and come to a compromise.

Another tip is to run a background check on yourself before you go into the interview. This way, you won’t have any shocking surprises, and you know exactly what the employer is going to see. It will also give you a chance to correct any errors on your resume that relate to your work or school experience.

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