There are many reasons why someone might conduct a police background check. Police records are controlled and generally disseminated to law enforcement agencies, government licensing agencies and criminal justice agencies. Those working with high risk populations like the elderly, handicapped or children might also be asked to undergo a police background check. Anyone that is employed in a high security environment should also expect to have a police background check run. Running a police background check can be done using two methods. A general records search online using a background check service or a more accurate report through a fingerprinting agency are the two most common methods.
While an online police background check will likely reveal the same information as a fingerprinting service, it often will also include additional records that don’t apply to the person under scrutiny. A person can provide a fake social security number when they are arrested, causing a records search to turn up a crime that an individual has no knowledge of. However, with a fingerprinting search, only crimes that were actually committed by the individual will be found. Sorting through all the results returned by an online search can be difficult, particularly if the person being checked has a common name. The more common the name, the more results will be returned and the more time consuming it will be to sort through the presented records.
A fingerprinted police background check provides more accurate information regarding an individual’s criminal history, but it is not made available to everyone. Employers cannot ask for fingerprints unless they deal with high risk populations or sensitive government documents. The individual’s right to privacy makes it so that those criminal data bases are only generally available to law enforcement professionals. Not only that, but fingerprinting can be very expensive. While an online police background check can be performed in minutes, a fingerprinting takes several weeks and can cost over $75 per person. The cost and restricted nature of fingerprinting makes an online background check the most common method for background checks in most industries.
It may be more difficult to sort through all of the returned results, but the information collected on most job or rental applications should be enough to narrow down the field. If there are any remaining questions about information appearing on a police background check the prospective tenant or employee should be able to give you the information needed to either prove the charge is not theirs, or explain why they failed to mention it. Either way, it will give you the necessary information you need to make informed decisions.