How far back does a background check typically go?

Most items in a background check go back as far as seven years. Bankruptcies appear on your consumer report for 10 years, and in some states, criminal records are indefinite.

You can conduct a background check further back than seven years for items such as previous employment, personal references, and in some states, criminal records. However, federal law forbids credit bureaus from reporting credit history information older than seven years, with the exception of bankruptcy, which remains on a consumer credit file for 10 years.

As outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a background check report, called a consumer report, cannot contain bankruptcies after 10 years, civil suits, civil judgments, and records of arrest, from date of entry after seven years, paid tax liens after seven years, accounts placed for collection after seven years, and any other negative information after seven years. In these cases, you would not be able to conduct a background check back further than seven years.

None of this precludes an employer from conducting a previous employment background check beyond seven years, or interviewing personal references about circumstances beyond seven years old. It is, however, important to note that employers are required by federal law to obtain permission by any prospective employee before conducting a background check and must give them the opportunity to access the background report if an adverse hiring decision is made.

If you’d like to conduct a background check for yourself or someone else, you can do so online. Conducting a background check online is quick and easy and will better prepare you for your next job search process.

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