Are Background Checks Public Record?

Are Background Checks Public Record?

A common inquiry among organizations in search of a new background screening provider is, “Are background checks public record?” This question is particularly relevant for those seeking a service that is not only comprehensive and compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and local and state laws but also fast and affordable. Let’s delve into the specifics of background checks and their nature regarding public and private records.

The Nature of Background Checks: Public vs. Private Records

Background checks are a blend of public and private record searches designed to provide a holistic view of an individual’s background. While many aspects of a background check are derived from public records—such as criminal histories, court records, and certain civil records—other elements involve private records or databases, including certain employment history, education verification, and professional licenses. This mixture ensures a thorough vetting process, albeit not all information obtained through a background check is publicly accessible without specific authorization or purpose.

How Background Checks Work

Background checks gather information from a variety of sources, both public and private, to compile a comprehensive report on an individual. Common components of a typical background check include:

  • Social Security Trace: Identifies names, aliases, and address history associated with the Social Security number provided.
  • Sex Offender Search: Searches national sex offender registries to identify any matches.
  • Criminal Records: Includes searches of county, state, and federal criminal records to uncover any criminal history.
  • Driving Records: Reviews an individual’s driving history for violations, suspensions, or other infractions.
  • Verifications: Validates employment history, educational background, and professional licenses through direct contact with institutions or through specialized databases.

The Steps of the Background Check Process

  1. Consent and Initiation: The process begins with obtaining consent from the candidate, as required by the FCRA.
  2. Collection of Information: Information is gathered from both public and private sources, ensuring a broad and deep search.
  3. Verification: Data obtained is then verified for accuracy and completeness.
  4. Reporting: A detailed report is compiled, highlighting findings relevant to the employment decision.

Background checks typically look back seven years, in compliance with many state laws, though some records (like convictions) can be reported indefinitely depending on jurisdiction and the nature of the job in question.

What Shows Up in the Results?

The results can include a wide range of information, from verified employment and educational histories to criminal records and driving infractions. The specific outcomes depend on the scope of the search and the types of checks performed, tailored to the employer’s requirements and the job’s nature.


Addressing the initial question, “Are background checks public record?”—while they leverage a lot of information from public records, background checks themselves are comprehensive reports that include privately verified information and are not public records in their entirety. They are essential tools for employers to make informed hiring decisions, ensuring workplace safety and compliance with regulations.

For organizations looking for a reliable and efficient background screening provider, EDIFY Background Screening offers the expertise and technology needed to conduct thorough background investigations. We encourage prospective clients to reach out to explore how we can assist in making your hiring process both comprehensive and compliant. Partner with EDIFY Background Screening for your background check needs to ensure a fast, affordable, and thorough screening process.

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