How Many Years Back Does a Background Check Go?

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Background checks continue to be a part of life when applying for jobs in the United States. Understanding how many years back a background check goes makes it easier to prepare for the results of a background check. Knowing what information will show up allows you to explain the situation to your potential employer. Ultimately, that’s better than lying about something and having them find out during the background check.

While it’s hard to determine how far back a background check will go because of varying state laws, there are some ways to find out. This article will show you how to determine how far back a background check goes and how to run one on yourself.

What Is a Background Check?

A background check is used to verify someone’s identity. Employers typically issue background checks to learn more about potential employees. To gather information for a background check people need to consent and then answer several questions. Data that forms a complete background check comes from thousands of public record databases across the United States. 

What Information Is on a Background Check?

Background checks contain a lot of information. Depending on the person, background checks might be several pages in length. Therefore, it’s important to know what to expect from a background check even before you know how far back it goes.

Below is what comes on most background checks.

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Employment history
  • Educational background
  • Military service history
  • SSN verification
  • Criminal records
  • Sex offender status
  • Fingerprint details
  • Addresses
  • Email addresses
  • Social media accounts

Most background checks for employers will look for this information. However, keep in mind that some background checks, like immigration or military background checks, are more in-depth.

How Many Years Back Does a Background Check Go?

Typically, background checks show information from public record databases that store information about someone. Due to the nature of these databases, most background checks will see the entire history of a person’s life. Therefore, there is no cut-off for things like education, work history, and marriage details.

On the other hand, criminal background checks have limitations placed on them by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA). For example, some states allow criminal records to remain accessible for more than 10 years, while others limit criminal records to 7 seven years. That said, there are some caveats to be aware of.

For example, there are some exceptions to these rules, and it comes down to salary. In many states, making under $20,000 exempts you from being held back by a criminal record. In contrast, some states have a similar rule but with a $75,000 salary.

How Far Back Do Fingerprint Background Checks Go?

Fingerprint background checks go as far back as they need to. When it comes to fingerprints, there is no time limit, especially if it’s for a government position or a federal agency. That said, there are some cases where fingerprint background checks are limited. An example is a state that limits criminal records from appearing on background checks after 10 years.

How Far Back Do FBI Background Checks Go? 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has almost unlimited access to someone’s public record information. Depending on the nature of the background check, an FBI fingerprint check or name check will cover someone’s lifetime. The only limitations apply to foreigners. However, FBI background checks vary, so it’s important to know which type you’re getting. Some may go even farther back or have limitations.

How Far Back Do Federal Background Checks Go?

The federal government doesn’t always have to play by state rules. When applying for a government job, the 7 or 10-year criminal records rules are disregarded (sometimes). Ultimately, federal background checks will show a lifetime of criminal records and other details. Federal agencies may also perform other background checks and screenings that go as far back as necessary.

How Far Back Do Immigration Background Checks Go?

Immigration background checks conducted by Border Protection agencies will go as far back as possible. Depending on the person immigrating, immigration background checks may go back 40 to 50 years. There are also different types of immigration background checks, but most types will go back as far as possible.

How Far Back Do Employment Background Checks Go?

Employment background checks go back 7 to 10 years. In some cases, some employers will also see lifetime records, but that depends on the job. Background checks that go back seven years include government sanctions, civil judgments, and professional licenses. On the other hand, bankruptcy is one of the few things that goes back 10 years.

Employment background checks experience the most limitations when compared to other background checks. Employment background checks also have limitations that have to do with someone’s salary. For example, some states limit a company’s access to information if the salary is less than $75,000. States also have other salary limitations, like under $50,000 or $20,000.

How To Check Your Background 

To prepare for a background check, it’s in your best interest to check your background first. Checking your background will help you determine what information will show up and how to handle it. Knowing what information will appear on the background check also gives you time to explain the results before they reach the person running the check.

To get a closer look at your background check the best method is to use a people search tool. While it’s easy to hire a firm, that costs a lot of money. Furthermore, searching through public records databases on your own will take weeks or months.

Thankfully, people search engines like Information.com make checking your background records a breeze. With their tools, you can view your criminal record, sex offender status, and much more.

To use Information.com’s background check tool, begin by visiting the website. Then, enter your full name and address into the search bar. Once your results come up, open the full report to check your background report.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of how far back your background check goes, it’s always best to be prepared. Make sure you run a background check on yourself before applying to jobs because it will help you prepare. Information.com makes running a background check simple and quick. In fact, it takes less than five minutes to open a full report about yourself.


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