A background check is a method of studying and collecting employment history, criminal records, financial records, and financial records of an individual or an organization.

While running a background screening test, multiple pieces of information get reviewed. Based on the requirements, these checks can be short or detailed, and comprehensive.

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Background screenings are demanded by employers when they are about to hire a job candidate. For the positions that entail high security or trust, such background screenings become critical.

In the United States, organizations must get permission from the applicant to perform a background check on him or her. The company must be following the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Also, they have to guarantee that they will not discriminate against the applicant. The FCRA regulates such consumer reports

Most notably, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the use of consumer reports as it pertains to adverse decisions, notification to the applicant, and destruction and safekeeping of records.


how long does a background check take


The most common question people ask when considering background screenings is how much time would it take. Most consumer reporting agencies have similar answers—it depends.


What Can Make a Background Check Go Quicker?

Peopletrail is often asked about ways to make a background check go faster. While there are no tricks that can hurry up the process, it is imperative to avoid things that could considerably slow it down. Typically, most delays in background verification reports are on part of the candidates.

You can attain background verification reports faster by advising your candidates of the following:

1. Keep Relevant Information Ready

Candidates would be asked to provide critical information, such as former employer names, addresses, dates of employment, salary information, educational degrees, and so on. It is easier for the candidate to gather data when they receive a head start. Screening can go smoother when the applicants have all the information required on hand and can provide it to the background screening provider quickly.

2. Be Honest

Background screening providers, such as Peopletrail are bound by guidelines of the Fair Credit Reporting Act to double-check the information that is conflicting or adverse in nature before including it in the report. This quality assurance step combined with dispute rectification can slow down the entire background screening process. However, at the same time, this is necessary to protect the interests of an applicant.

3. Complete Cooperation

In certain situations, it becomes necessary for screening providers to contact candidates directly for missing pieces of information. Complete cooperation is imperative for easier and more streamlined facilitation. Contacting a candidate is generally required if the provider encounters an unresponsive former employer or academic institution. Candidates can help in such situations by providing alternate proofs, such as W-2s or old pay stubs and copies of diplomas.

It is important to understand that the total amount of time taken to complete background checks depends upon the individual services comprising the check. However, these guidelines can go a long way in making the process quicker.


When Can Background Verifications Take Longer?

The average employment background verification does not take more than 2 – 4 business days to complete depending upon the nature and scope of the check. However, in certain situations, it may take longer than typical timeframes for a variety of reasons. These are:

1. Unresponsive Information Source

It can be difficult for a background screening provider to establish contact with educational institutions and employers. In such cases, they may request copies of additional documents, such as W-2 and educational diplomas. This can be a time-consuming process if the candidate doesn’t have these documents on hand.

2. Backlogged Courts

It is common for courts to be backlogged during the holiday season owing to the number of non-working days. This can increase the time taken for completing criminal record checks. Also, there are a few outlying municipal court jurisdictions whose records have yet to be digitized. This means any check that needs to be undertaken must be done manually by the court runner or a county clerk. This can take anywhere from 3 to 30 days depending upon the case and county.

3. Drug Screening

Drug screenings involve Medical Review Officers, sample collection, and laboratory analysis. Sometimes, logistics can be the cause of a delay. Maybe the candidate is not available to provide the sample or the results are not provided by the lab on time. A shy bladder from the candidate may also increase the time for a drug test to be completed.

4. Multiple Sources

Background checks that require searching multiple sources and databases may take longer than regular verifications.

5. Use of Aliases

Many candidates change their names or use aliases. For instance, someone who went by their married name when convicted of a crime may choose to use their maiden name to avoid detection. This can cause confusion resulting in delays. Also, the manual check needs to be undertaken for name variances, such as Steven, Steve, or Stephen, Bill William, Billy, or Will.

6. International Background Verifications

Typically, international background verifications take longer than domestic checks. This is usually because non-US courts, government bodies, and police ministries work differently, there are language and process barriers and systems are not interchangeable with US systems. Many cultural issues are involved and many times, they are backlogged and not inclined to reply immediately.

7. Inaccurate Information

Incomplete application forms or inaccurate information is the most common cause of delays in background verification results. Sometimes, an employer may fail to attain adequate release forms or authorization signed by the job applicant for undertaking background verification as required by federal law. Agencies are not allowed to conduct background searches before these forms are received in writing.


Get Quicker Results with Instant Background Checks

Instant Background Checks provide basic information that can be attained from specialized online databases. Only a few accredited and verified background check providers, such as Peopletrail have access to these proprietary databases. You can conduct stored criminal records, a sex offender registry search, a Social Security number (SSN) trace, and a national criminal database search.

Peopletrail Background Screening

It’s true that the time it takes to complete a background check can vary significantly. But for most clients, Peopletrail boasts a national average of 1.6 days with real-time updates on delays. Our screening specialists turn a three-week waiting period into one hour.  Learn more about what we do during that time.

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