While the use of background check services is generally legal, it’s still important to exercise caution when doing so to respect other people’s privacy rights. Companies have been relying on some form of background checking for years as a means of validating their hiring choices and screening applicants for promotion and reassignment. But beware, as different rules of legality apply to different types of information.
Basic personal information such as gender, age, occupation and even marital status is gathered from public records, and as such it’s perfectly fine to search for them. Verifying employment and education history is also widely allowed across the country. Lastly, checking records of military service, driving license, drug tests and social media content are permitted as well. If you are an employer or a recruitment agent, then be careful when searching criminal history since this is limited in certain areas. The laws in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and several other states forbid asking about criminal convictions in job applications. California, Colorado, Washington and New York City (among others) also limit access to credit history unless the applicant is applying to a financial institution.
Online background checking sites explicitly state that they aren’t recruitment agencies, and as such the reports they provide may not be used for screening employees. Still, the common courtesy suggests that employers should always inform the applicants whenever a background check will be involved with the application process and should also ask for their written permission. Also, all applicants must be judged under the same terms to ensure equal opportunities. Using background checks is fine if the gathered information isn’t used for decision making or the right to privacy is affected. It’s a good idea – even encouraged – to look up your own profile to get an understanding of what a background check might have on yourself, giving you the knowledge to perform better in job interviews.
The Best Background Check Services of 2020