How Long Does a Background Search Take?

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As technology continues to get better and more accurate, background searches are available in shorter times. However, turnaround times depend on the type of background search and the level of depth required. Here, we analyze how long do background checks take, from the fastest to those that take a few days or even a month. Remember that this article is only for informational purposes and results may vary depending on your provider and location, among other factors.

“Immediate” Background Checks

Internet services such as CheckPeople offer a really fast and accurate service. Because they rely on technology to crawl the web, results can be ready almost instantly. These services are limited to information that is publicly available, (for example, they are not allowed to perform credit checks). It is important to understand that not all background check sites are equal, so if you are looking for reviews and data to compare and contrast services, consider visiting UnMask.

Using the services of a background check website, you can expect to get:

  1. Identity Verification
  2. Criminal History (available through public court records)
  3. Sex offenders status
  4. Data from Social Media accounts
  5. Registered addresses
  6. Marital Status

The other type of immediate background search is the one required to buy most types of firearms. Known as a Universal Background check, it was established by the FBI to lower suicide an homicide rates. A universal background check relies on a data list known as the Universal Criminal Background Check System, and results are ready in less than two minutes. They check:

  1. Mental health records
  2. Juvenile delinquency records
  3. Protective order information
  4. Warrants

Background Checks that Take 1-2 Days

Most credit reports fall under this category. Credit Reporting Agencies (or CRA’s) must verify documentation before running a check, including consent forms. Usually, this is why the process can be delayed. The information that you can expect to get from a credit check includes:

  1. Identity Verification
  2. Credit History (bank accounts, loan limits and loan payment patterns)
  3. Public Records regarding bankruptcies and tax liens

In-depth criminal records also take a few days, as they need to contrast information between county, state and federal courts. Usually, a criminal check is only required for certain types of jobs, such as law enforcement and caregivers. The information these checks compile include:

  1. Felonies and misdemeanor convictions
  2. Pending criminal cases
  3. History of incarceration
  4. Arrests pending prosecution
  5. Arrests that did not lead to incarceration

Background Checks That Take 2-5 Days

Education verification background checks take longer because they require cooperation between entities and manual work (such as calling or emailing institutions). If you need information from institutions out of the country, the process may take even longer. Sometimes, applicants can help speed up the process by contacting institutions beforehand and letting them know they need their official records.

Drug screenings also take longer, mainly because there is a scientific process that needs time to get accurate results. Also, drug screenings require the applicant’s consent and documentation, so incomplete files will usually be archived. If this is the case, the process needs to start again from the beginning.

Background Checks that take 1 Month

An international background check usually takes a month or even longer, depending on the countries involved. An international check requires cooperation between governments (some countries will not grant access to their databases to foreigners). Usually, the best course of action is to hire an in-country agency to perform an international check, but this can be difficult if there are several countries involved.

Are You Waiting for Your Results?

If you are in the middle of a hiring process and haven’t heard back a week after a background check process started, contact the hiring manager. Some issues that can significantly delay a background check are:

  • Duplicate information
  • Missing documentation
  • Incomplete or inaccurate applications
  • Legal Restrictions (some agencies may place temporary restrictions before releasing sensitive information)
  • Holidays

Candidate’s cooperation and full disclosure usually speed up the background check process, so ask if there is any further information that you need to provide in order to continue the process. Remember that most employers value honesty, so if you know that they can find conflicting information, it is better to come clean and talk about it beforehand.

Never lie during an application process (regardless of if it is a job or housing or any other application). The truth usually comes out, and there are few things as difficult as cleaning your image if you are found cheating or lying. Remember that hiring managers across different companies to communicate and warn their peers, so be careful not to close important doors.

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