Length of Time Covered in a Background Check

By: Kat Saks September 14, 2012
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Criminal background checks can provide a great deal of information about a person's past.

But, when you perform a background check, just how far can you walk down memory lane?

Read on to learn more about the length of time covered in a background check.

Background Check Time Periods Vary

The length of time covered in a background check varies depending on the type and source of each piece of information. Some sources provide information dating back for many years, while others only provide a snapshot of a person's current information.

Typically, the following types of information provide a simple snapshot of a person's current status:

  • Social security information.
  • Drivers license information.
  • State licensing information.

Other sources tend to provide information spanning over the last seven years:

Some sources don't specify an end date, but instead provide information regarding a person's history. For example, education verifications can provide information on a person's complete education history, from high school onward. Credit reports might provide a simple current status, or might date back many years.

Keep in mind that the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) sets some limitations on the amount of historic information a background check vendor can provide an employer. So, if you want information that's practically prehistoric, you might be out of luck.

Also, some states restrict the period of time background checks can cover. Typically, state restrictions vary based on the type of information in question. For example, you might be able to receive bankruptcy information dating back ten years, while you can only receive criminal records dating back seven years.

Consult with your state to learn more about the unique rules and regulations of your area.

Have you ever run a background check? How far back did the information go? Tell us the details in the comments section.

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