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First Advantage Background Screening FAQs

Background Checks

Background screening, a.k.a., background “checking” or a background check, is the process of researching and consolidating a variety of employment, educational, criminal, financial and personal records about an individual or organization for the purpose of evaluation for employment or residential purposes. 

You’ve worked hard to build your business and you need to obtain a comprehensive picture of the person with whom you want to work.

Searches more than 700 US based newspapers, magazines, journals and other media sources to provide adverse content that may be related to your U.S. candidates

Negligent hiring is a claim made by an injured party against an employer based on the theory that the employer knew or should have known about the employee’s background which, if known, should have disqualified the individual from consideration.

In addition to obtaining written consent to conduct a background check, you must first collect your candidate’s first, middle and last name, as well as the correct date of birth (DOB), government ID or social security number, and home addresses from the last 7 years if possible.

Our information is compiled from FCRA-certified resources. Our experienced teams handle the court record checks by going straight to the source (whether on-site at the courthouse) or through appropriate technology. For employment and education verifications, we will determine if the information is available in an approved database or will go directly to the source. Other data sources will depend on the searches requested as part of the background check.

There are some proprietary databases of criminal histories which collection information on a nationwide basis from many different sources. This is known as a national criminal database. There are no publicly maintained “national” criminal databases from which the general public can access. Some background screening companies maintain private or proprietary criminal history databases, and others will subscribe to third party aggregators of criminal histories. County searches are very pointed specific searches in a courthouse of the county in which the subject of the search may have works or resided. It is a search of one courthouse’s records. While a national criminal database can be considered to be “an inch deep and a mile wide”, a county courthouse search is “a mile deep and an inch wide.” A federal criminal search covers federal crimes that are federally prosecuted and typically not included in either county or statewide criminal checks.

Our platform uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for encrypting all personal information online, including your business information and your payment methods. When you are logged in to our site, you will notice there’s a HTTPS, instead of an HTTP in the URL so you can visually see that you are in a secured location of our site.

Before you take any adverse employment decision, (e.g. reject a job application, reassign or terminate an employee, or deny a promotion) known as “adverse action,” based in whole or in part on information on a consumer’s background report, you must provide the consumer a Pre-Adverse Action notice along with a copy of the consumer’s report.

Consult with your own legal advisors for your particular circumstance. There are laws in some states that limit or restrict employers from making adverse employment decisions based solely on a criminal history. Likewise, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance in 2012 on the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, and on the use of criminal and arrest records to recommend that employers do not automatically disqualify an individual based solely on criminal history as potentially being in violation of the Act. While the guidance is not law, the EEOC recommends specific factors employers weigh when assessing whether the existence of a criminal record is sufficient for job exclusion.

Delivery time varies based on the searches you are running on a candidate; however, before you will receive your first full report we need to validate your business. Don’t worry though, you can still order reports and we will email you as soon as your business is verified so that you can check your results.

Of course! Our platform uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for encrypting all personal information online, including your candidate’s information and your payment methods. 

Fingerprint Screening

Yes. First Advantage has a direct channel to the FBI, allowing us to electronically transmit fingerprint and fingerprint data to the FBI on a federal submission level. This does not apply to state-submission fingerprints. Customers can purchase channeling and non-channeling services from First Advantage. Channeling is just the submission to the FBI while non-channeling services include the ability to store the rap sheet, adjudicate the rap sheet, and perform rap sheet reconciliation. 

Banks, Credit Unions, Public Housing Authorities 

Can First Advantage perform pre-employment fingerprint checks for financial institutions that are not banks or credit unions? 

No. If a financial institution is SEC-regulated instead of FDIC-regulated, they are required to submit fingerprints directly to a Self-Regulatory Office (SRO) for pre-employment fingerprint-based background checks. 

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The FCRA as well as other state and local employment laws come into play in making employment decisions based on the use of a background screening report.

Because the FCRA stipulates that First Advantage, a Consumer Reporting Agency, can only provide reports to people we believe intend to use the information for an FCRA permissible purpose such as employment and tenant screening purposes, we need to verify that you have a legitimate business need to request background reports. 

The information gathered by a consumer reporting agency is far more complex, more thorough and comprehensive and likewise potentially more compliant with laws and regulations than the information that may be obtained from a cursory search on a web-based search.

Adverse action refers to an adverse employment decision based in whole or in part on the content of the consumer’s background screening report. Examples of adverse action include, denial of employment or any other decision for employment purposes that adversely affects any current or prospective employee.

Following the pre-adverse action notice, after a reasonable period of time has passed, the employer is required to issue an Adverse Action notice which should include certain required pieces of information include the name and contact information for the consumer reporting agency and the ability to obtain a copy of the consumer report. 

Employers should be aware that the FCRA, as well as state law, places limitations on information that can be reported by a background screening company. To comply with employment law, consumer reporting agencies cannot include certain items in a consumer report.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has rulemaking authority under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the FCRA. In addition, enforcement of state and local laws and regulations may have other agencies or law enforcement authority. 

The phrase “consumer dispute” encompasses broad areas of the law involving a challenge that a consumer may have against a retailer, a manufacturer, a wholesaler or any company selling a product or a service. In the context of a background screening report, it refers to the consumer’s challenge or dispute about the accuracy of the content in the consumer’s background screening report. 

Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company and the information provider are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.

Drug & Alcohol Testing

While all specimen types have their advantages, urine testing is by far the most common, flexible and customizable. With so many combinations of illicit drugs available for testing, with urine testing there is a panel option for almost any testing reason. 

Alternatives include point-of-collection and testing methodology options as well as testing specimens beyond urine—oral fluids or hair. These alternative methodologies/specimens have opened a multitude of program possibilities for employers. These alternatives can enhance employers’ efforts to ensure a drug free workplace by making it more difficult for applicants and employees to subvert the process during specimen collection. They are also viable, logistically attractive, and cost-effective program solutions available now. An employer’s practical and logistical considerations often drive an organization’s selection of alternative methodologies—offering a number of convenient and cost-effective testing options. 

The use of lab based oral fluids tests is widely accepted under state law and has become a very popular and effective solution for many employers. This methodology detects the SAMHSA five drugs and offers some extended panel testing, identifies recent usage, permits a donor to collect their own specimen under direct visual supervision, and requires no special collection facilities.

The impact of alcohol abuse within the workplace is far-reaching and should be considered by every employer, since it has been linked with increases in employee tardiness, absenteeism, sickness, workplace injuries, reduced productivity and lower employee morale. Alcohol testing is an effective screening strategy for identifying alcohol abuse in the workplace and mitigating its many negative effects. 

Rapid results are available within minutes. But usually lab-based drug screening from start to finish(collection to result receipt) typically takes 24 – 48 hours. 

First Advantage offers hundreds of different panel configurations and cut off levels which can be customized to your needs. 

Yes, First Advantage will coordinate onsite testing for hiring or random events from start to finish. 

First Advantage employs a specialized team of Medical Review Officers (MROs) with a vast degree of industry knowledge who have been certified by the American Association of Medical Review Officers and/or the Medical Review Officer Certification Council to review chain of custody and test results, and conduct the entire donor interview process as prescribed by federal regulations. Specifically, an MRO is a licensed medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) with specialized knowledge in the medical use of prescription drugs and the pharmacology and toxicology of illicit drugs. MROs have expertise in the areas of controlled substance use, abuse, testing and rehabilitation. 

The First Advantage MRO team review chain of custody and test results and conducts the entire donor interview process as prescribed by federal regulations. Specifically, in the case of confirmed non-negative results, MROs conduct phone interviews with the donor and, if needed, the donor’s doctor and/or pharmacist. The goal is to determine if there is a legitimate medical explanation for the test result, such as a current, legal prescription for a drug being used to treat a medical condition. A Medical Review Officer (MRO) is a person who is a licensed physician and is responsible for receiving and reviewing laboratory results generated by an employer’s drug testing program and evaluating medical explanations for certain drug test results.

First Advantage offers a comprehensive collection site network. The First Advantage Collection Site Network provides you convenient and close locations for accurate data collection and transmission that adheres to our service level agreements. Whether you’re screening applicants, vendors, or employees, you want access to a reliable network of collection sites when you require a drug test or collection of other biometric information. 

The chain of custody is a document that captures the collection, transfer, receipt, analysis, storage, and disposal of a sample for drug screening.

Yes. First Advantage international drug testing can help streamline your global hiring process by offering a convenient solution that allows you to combine market-leading global drug screening services with U.S.-based drug screening and other employment screening services. Instead of juggling paperwork, invoices and services for multiple vendors, you can confidently consolidate everything—U.S.-based and non-U.S. based drug testing— with First Advantage. Centralizing your program under one, trusted provider saves you valuable time, resources and money that could be redirected toward other recruiting activities that help you attract and keep the best talent. 

Random Drug Testing

Random testing is performed on an unannounced, unpredictable basis on employees whose identifying information such as Social Security number (SSN) or employee number have been placed in a testing pool from which a scientifically arbitrary selection is made. This selection is computer generated to ensure that it is indeed random and that each person in the workforce population has an equal chance of being selected for testing, regardless of whether that person was recently tested or not. Once an individual is selected for testing, the person is notified and must immediately report for a drug test. Since this type of testing has no advance notice, it serves as a deterrent. 

As a powerful tool that helps employers spot workers with substance abuse problems, random testing is used as a long-term, post-hire deterrent for curbing on-the-job substance abuse. It is an integral part of a drug-free workplace that poses a much higher threat of detection than other testing methods such as pre-employment. In fact, random testing is mandated within regulated industries that fall under the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines.

For every active employee enrolled in a pool, he or she has an equal chance of being selected, each time there is a selection, throughout the calendar year. For any pool (DOT or NDOT), a person may be required to test at least quarterly and a maximum would be monthly. 

The DOT’s random testing requirements specify that random selections must be spread evenly over a12-month period. Most non-regulated companies choose the same approach. This further supports the deterrence factor since it is impossible for a pool member to know when a random selection will be generated. 

First Advantage runs random selection programs for thousands of companies and government organizations throughout the United States according to strict guidelines on a specially written computer program. The program randomly selects donors from a company’s employee selection pool(s) on computers physically located at First Advantage. Since there is also no way to add or delete a name to the list once started, you can be sure that your company’s random selection process is completely non-prejudiced, entirely equitable and completely free from any outside interference or influence. 

The minimum number, or percentage, of ID numbers or names that are actually selected annually is also specified by the DOT. Non-regulated companies tend to use the DOT regulations as guidelines. Employees can consult their company policy or program administrator to find out what the percentage of random selection is for their company, although many companies treat this as confidential information. It may also be helpful to know that if a company with 100 employees decides to test at 50 percent ‘random rate’ it does not mean it will test 50% of its employees. Rather it will conduct 50 tests on whichever employees are chosen by the random selection computer program. It is not uncommon for the same donors to be selected several times in succession since all employees are available for each selection. 

An employee who is subject to random testing will be part of a selection pool of other employees who are also subject to random testing. Each employee in the pool will have an equal chance of being chosen each time that a selection is generated. As an example of how this happens, consider this experiment; pick ten cards at random from a deck of 52. Then place those 10 cards back in the deck, reshuffle them and draw another 10 cards randomly. Is there a chance one or more of the same cards will be drawn the second time, the third time, etc.? The same chances apply to the random drug and alcohol selection.

A-Z List

Searches a centralized database of child  and elder abuse and neglect investigation records.

Use First Advantage to outsource the substantial administrative burden on large employers to comply and document ACA actions. This service continuously evaluates your workforce to determine who are full-time, part-time, and full-time equivalent employees. To compile, prepare and maintain material for ACA compliance and audits.

Applicant Tracking Systems help employers track job applicants from “cradle to grave” or initial contact or application through end of employment. First Advantage background checks and hiring tax credit services can integrate into these systems so that results remain as part of the candidate’s overall records.

Drug testing via a blood sample. SAMSHA certified labs used for all testing.

Alcohol testing via a breath test. This is DOT compliant—Rapid results available immediately at clinic.

Searches both lower or upper level county court and/or federal courts based on address submitted for civil litigation cases associated with candidate.

Search credit history for employment or residential purposes to help you determine the credit worthiness of an individual.

Searches of felony and misdemeanor county criminal records.

Searches the county Primary Upper Court index only for criminal records.

Searches both the county Primary Upper and Lower Court to obtain felony & misdemeanor criminal record information. A secondary court location will be searched regardless of physical location of the building in the county to obtain the secondary court information if the information is not contained in the primary court location. Secondary court location searched based on covered address.

Searches the county Primary Upper Court index for criminal records. Only felony level information will be returned.

Verifies with business registries past and current directorships and major stock

Searches State Motor Vehicle records data which may include type or class of driver’s license, any restrictions or violations, convictions and license revocations, automobile insurance cancellations, etc.

Verify educational credentials involving dates of attendance, course major (when available), degree(s) attained and the date the degree was awarded.  This search can be used to verify high-school, undergraduate, or graduate-level degrees.

Validate candidate’s work history including dates of employment and job titles and eligibility for rehire (if available).

Login for the employment background screening and drug testing product.

Searches a collection of public and proprietary data regarding landlord tenant disputes including evictions.

For executives and other top posts in your company, a thorough, far-reaching background check using a team of 70+ private investigators, the search goes beyond the average background check to business associations, investments and media coverage.

Searches information on disciplinary actions ranging from exclusions and debarments to letters of reprimand and probation.

Searches the Federal court for criminal histories.

Searches more than 200+ databases for financial sanction information.

Authorized recipients can manage electronic fingerprint submissions to the FBI with First Advantage—an approved channeler to receive any fingerprint-associated criminal record information.

Login for the fingerprint portal.

Login for the fleet legalization and mileage and fuel tax system. 

From drivers qualification file systems, physical exam management, substance abuse testing, title management, to licensing and permitting, organizations turn to First Advantage to keep their fleet and drivers compliant and on the road. 

Searches U.S. and foreign database sources for sanctions.

Hiring tax credit programs were developed by federal, state and local governments to drive job creation, job training, capital investment and new business development by providing incentives for hiring specific groups or hiring in a specific location or both. The First Advantage Tax Credit Services division monitors over 2,000 tax credit and economic incentive programs throughout the United States, as well as economic incentive opportunities overseas to help you apply for credits you’ve earned.

Login to access tax credit system.

In the context of background screening, a proven methodology for implementing your screening as part of a larger applicant tracking system or property management system.

Automate completion of the U.S. I-9 or E-Verify program across all business divisions and locations — a critical service for large, decentralized organizations. Work with First Advantage to simplify and automate your I-9 program.

Searches military locatordischarge verification, and full records.

Searches over 350 million+ records in proprietary databases of criminal convictions and includes sex offender records across all 50 states plus Washington, DC.  Approximately 6,000 new electronic records are added daily. 

Premium call-in service through which client applicants/employees call the NSC for collection site location and scheduling of services.  The NSC tracks the progress of the service.

Give you the power to initiate state-based queries of nurse aid registries, plus other occupational “credibility”. Searches criminal data, wants and warrants and more to further expand your due diligence. 

Online, self-service where client candidates/employees can schedule and map collection site locations and services. 

Property Management Systems help property owners and managers track resident applicants from “cradle to grave” or initial contact or application through end of lease. First Advantage residential services can integrate into these systems so that results remain as part of the applicant’s overall records.

Means by which employers can get employees drug tested after an accident or if suspicious of intoxication or drug use.

The Professional License Verification is used to verify that a person holds a valid occupational license with the occupations and licensing boards for applicable state or other professional credential organization.

Manage and facilitate random pools and selections including compliance management support, online pool management support, and online compliance management.

The Reference Check is conducted on information submitted by the applicant.  This search checks for accuracy of dates of relationship and familiarity of contact with applicant.  An attempt is made to gather as much information from the contact as possible.  Questions may include work ethic, character establishment and general knowledge about the applicant.

A complete suite of resident screening solutions that help property owners and managers quickly turn qualified applicants into residents, while giving them the risk insight they need to protect their property from problem renters, thus avoiding both financial losses and potential liability. Our screening solutions support the full leasing lifecycle—from application and move-in through move-out and collections.

Login for the resident screening product. 

Rapid results available immediately at clinic via a saliva swab test. Requires Breath Alcohol Test for non-negative results.

Reviews of national and state-level sex offender registries in 48 states and Washington, DC.

Use the same credentials to log onto multiple, associated systems.

Searches a proprietary, contributory database where properties share the information about problem renters.

First Advantage works with Fama who can provide a social media screening product.

Searches of either the State or the Centralized State Police Repository or State Administrative Office of the Court and will report Felony & Misdemeanors found and allowable to report.

Searches either or both lower level county court or upper level county court based on address submitted to provide civil litigation information based on the dollar amount at each county. 

Helps connect DOT applicant and employees with qualified local help.

Tax credit programs were developed by federal, state and local governments to drive job creation, job training, capital investment and new business development. The First Advantage Tax Credit Services division monitors over 2,000 tax credit and economic incentive programs throughout the United States, as well as economic incentive opportunities overseas. 

Reduce risk to your company by clearing candidates against multiple domestic and international terrorist lists, narcotics traffickers and other threats to national security as mandated by the Office of Foreign  Asset Control (OFAC) and the USA PATRIOT Act.  Databases searched include but are not limited to Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), FBI Most Wanted Lists, World Bank Debarred Parties List, Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL), DTC Debarred, EU and OSFI Consolidated Lists and Bureau of Industry and Security List (BIS).

Non-DOT rapid test results generally available within 15 minutes with non-negative results certified in a lab.

Verify Advantage is First Advantage’s secure, online employment income verification service. This service allows requestors, such as credit lenders, mortgage companies, government agencies and prospective employers confirm a current or former employee’s income or employment information.

A comprehensive drug and alcohol testing service platform along with DOT compliance help that is convenient for you and your employees while giving you access to the most up-to-date technologies and drug testing industry innovations.

Login to Wellness Advantage. 

Searches Worker’s Compensation claims histories for verifying filings and for establishing possible patterns involving claims for injuries. Some states require a release signed by the subject. Response may include subject’s name, Social Security number, date of birth, employer’s name, date and type of accident, nature of injury, affected body part, extent of disability and date of return to work.

The WOTC program is a federal program designed to promote hiring of individuals within specific target groups, who may face challenges securing employment due to limited skills or work experience. Employers can earn a tax credit between $1,500 and $9,600 by screening, hiring and retaining qualified employees. 

Background Check Resources

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Along the applicant journey and beyond, leading HR teams around the globe rely on First Advantage for screening, verifications, safety, and compliance. Striking the balance between tech and people, our innovations help you Hire Smarter and Onboard Faster.
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