Are Background Checks Confidential?

Are Background Checks Confidential?

In the process of selecting a new background screening provider, prospective clients often inquire about the confidentiality of background checks. This concern is paramount for companies needing a service that is not only comprehensive and compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and local and state laws but also fast, affordable, and respects the privacy of individuals.

Are Background Checks Confidential?

Yes, background checks are confidential. The information obtained during a background check is protected under various laws, including the FCRA, which sets strict guidelines on how information can be obtained, used, and shared. Employers must obtain written consent from the individual before conducting a background check, and the results are shared only with authorized personnel involved in the hiring decision. Examples of maintaining confidentiality include securing the storage of background check reports, limiting access to these reports, and ensuring that information is not disclosed improperly.

What Are Background Checks?

Background checks are a comprehensive review of a candidate’s or employee’s history, used by employers to verify the accuracy of an applicant’s claims and to uncover any potential risks. They are an essential component of the hiring process, contributing to safer, more informed hiring decisions.

Why Employers Run Background Checks

Employers conduct background checks for several reasons:

  • To ensure workplace safety by identifying candidates with violent or harmful past behaviors.
  • To comply with industry regulations, particularly in sectors where employees handle sensitive information or work with vulnerable populations.
  • To verify the qualifications of a candidate, ensuring they possess the experience and education they claim.

Common Components of a Typical Background Check

A standard background check may include, but is not limited to, the following components:

  • Social Security Trace: Validates the candidate’s Social Security number and identity.
  • Sex Offender Search: Identifies any sex offender registry listings.
  • Criminal Records: Searches for any criminal history across county, state, and federal levels.
  • Driving Records: Reviews driving history for violations or suspensions.
  • Verifications: Confirms employment history, education, and professional licenses.

How Far Back a Background Check Typically Goes

The extent to which a background check goes back varies by jurisdiction and the type of search conducted, but typically, employers look back seven years. This period can be extended or shortened based on state laws and the nature of the position being filled.

What Shows Up in the Results?

Results can include a wide range of information, such as criminal history, past employment verification, educational background, and any discrepancies found between the provided information and the verified data. Only authorized individuals within the hiring company, who need to know this information to make a hiring decision, are allowed to view and use the results.

Who Is Allowed to View and Use the Results?

The results of a background check are strictly limited to individuals within the organization who are directly involved in the hiring process or have a legitimate business need to access this information. This limitation is part of the FCRA’s requirements to protect the privacy and rights of the individual being screened.


In summary, background checks are a crucial component of the hiring process, offering a comprehensive review of a candidate’s history while being conducted with the utmost confidentiality. Employers looking for a reliable and efficient background screening provider will find that EDIFY Background Screening offers the expertise, technology, and adherence to privacy laws necessary to conduct these checks responsibly. We encourage those in need of background screening services to reach out and discover how we can assist in making your hiring process both thorough and secure. Trust EDIFY Background Screening for your background investigation needs, where confidentiality and efficiency meet compliance and thoroughness.

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