What You Need To Know About Federal Background Checks

September 2018

A federal criminal background check provides information about certain types of criminal cases prosecuted at the federal level — including robbery, fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion and white-collar offenses. Employers, hiring managers, landlords and others use federal background checks for in-depth vetting of prospective executives, workers and tenants.

Federal crimes are prosecuted through U.S. district courts, and defendants can appeal unfavorable verdicts to federal appellate courts. As a result, a federal criminal background check may yield documents from both the district and appellate levels.

What Is a Federal Background Check?

Federal background checks include searches for criminal offenses prosecuted through U.S. federal courts. They differ from national background checks, which may include court records from tribal territories, counties and states across the country.

With a federal job background check, a prospective employer can collect any records held by the federal criminal courts, including all case documents. Searches can involve specific districts only or can cover all the federal districts within a state or a group of states. Many employers also choose to conduct state- and county-level background checks in addition to federal checks to gain a comprehensive profile of candidates.

How Federal Background Checks Are Used

Federal criminal background checks often are part of comprehensive government employment screenings for law enforcement officers and other public-sector employees. However, workers such as banking professionals who will have access to highly sensitive data or financial information also may be subjected to federal background checks. Also, employers may use such screenings when hiring high-level executives and individuals who work in the medical field, with children or with older adults.

In addition to revealing federal criminal offenses such as kidnapping and robbery, a federal criminal background screening may uncover information about crimes relating to the sexual exploitation of children and illegal sales and purchases of firearms. Individuals attempting to purchase firearms in the United States are subject to background screenings processed by the FBI.

Elements of a Federal Screening

What does a federal background screening include, and how does it differ from a typical background check? The two types of screenings have some elements in common, while others are unique to federal checks.

Federal background checks may include:

  • • Information specific to government clearance level for a position
  • • A list of arrest records — including the charge, the date of the alleged offense, and the length of time the accused individual remained in law enforcement custody
  • • Records regarding crimes allegedly committed on state property or that crossed state lines
  • • Felony convictions
  • • Social Security number
  • • Criminal records
  • • Employment history
  • • Any listed lawsuits

Professional Assistance With Federal Background Screenings

Hiring for law enforcement and other public-sector positions — along with executive, financial and sensitive jobs — requires conducting thorough background screenings.

Federal background checks are an important component of your overall vetting process. By verifying critical information such as federal criminal charges and convictions, employment history and lawsuits, you gain confidence in the fitness of candidates for important positions.

To learn more about federal background checks or to request a quote, please contact Global Verification Network.

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