Fingerprint background checks compare an individual’s fingerprints against large criminal records databases. These searches can reveal an applicant’s criminal record, including arrests and dispositions.
However, they do not research non-criminal matters such as education and professional certification records. That is why it’s best to conduct a name-based background check in addition to a fingerprint check.
Many industries must run fingerprint background checks as part of the hiring process. This includes financial sectors that need security clearance and positions that work with vulnerable citizens such as children or older people. These searches are incredibly accurate and can identify any criminal records associated with an individual, even if they have legally changed their name.
A fingerprint-based background check involves an applicant visiting their local police department or a third-party screening company and having their prints electronically scanned by a machine. These prints are then cross-referenced with the FBI’s internal database to find matching criminal records. The FBI’s databases are primarily intended for law enforcement and do not always include information about misdemeanor offenses or other crimes that could still be relevant for employers seeking to hire someone.
Fingerprint background checks also often rely on state and county police departments to provide the FBI with their data, which is rife with collection and reporting issues. In addition, the 10th Amendment prevents the federal government from requiring states to declare their criminal records to the FBI, leaving a considerable information gap. As a result, fingerprint searches can often take weeks and are not as accurate as other background checks. On the other hand, name-based identity verification is much more reliable and can be completed within a day or two.
Fingerprint-based criminal history checks are far superior and more accurate than those conducted using only personal identifiers like names, dates of birth, social security numbers, addresses, etc. That’s because fingerprints cannot be changed like other information can. This is a crucial factor to consider in cases where you must ensure that the person who is being checked is the one who is seeking employment.
During the fingerprinting process, candidates go to the local police department or something similar to have their prints electronically scanned. They are then sent to a database that looks up matching criminal records. While name-based background checks can also search the same databases, fingerprint-based searches provide a more comprehensive look at an individual’s past.
There are several reasons why employers prefer to use a fingerprint background check. For starters, they are a more effective way of ensuring the safety of employees. This is especially true for positions in finance, healthcare, and other sensitive industries.
Secondly, fingerprint-based background checks are more reliable than other reviews because they can be cross-referenced against vast databases collected and compiled by law enforcement agencies. Using these databases helps identify who was at the crime scene, establish timelines, and ultimately help solve crimes. In short, fingerprinting is a great way to promote workplace safety.
Many industries require fingerprint background checks of their employees to meet safety standards for their specific jobs or to ensure that they are hiring people who can be trusted. This is especially true for industries that deal with crime or where a person’s criminal past could make them a risk to people who interact with them (like financial services, childcare, security clearance, and more).
Fingerprint background checks involve individuals’ federal and local records being searched based on their prints. This is a much more accurate and thorough way of finding information than the traditional name-based background check, which uses a candidate’s personal identity information (like their name, address, and social security number) to search available records for crimes.
It is also a more secure method of gathering information, as it is impossible to forge a fingerprint. Fingerprinting requires a person to physically come into a Live Scan center, where an Enrollment Agent can adequately take the print and process their request.
Whether you’re in the finance industry or not, fingerprint background checks can benefit your business. By running these background checks on your employees, you can show that you take the privacy of your customers seriously and prove that you are a company people can trust. This is important for retaining market share and building your brand’s reputation.
Many people assume that fingerprint background checks will provide more thorough results than those relying on name-based searches. This is because fingerprint data ensures that only one person’s fingerprints are used to search for records, whereas several people may share the same name. Additionally, fingerprints cannot be changed or altered by someone else like a name can.
Fingerprint background checks work by comparing an applicant’s fingerprints to federal databases. The most commonly used fingerprint database is the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), managed by the FBI, which houses 70 million criminal records. The process of collecting a fingerprint for a background check typically involves visiting a local police department or similar establishment to have your fingerprints electronically scanned by a kiosk known as a live scan.
These fingerprints are then compared against the database to find matching criminal records. However, the FBI’s database mainly depends on state and local governments reporting to it, which is not always done promptly. This can result in incomplete or inaccurate data that could hurt people of color.
Employers or landlords obligated by law to conduct a background check should consider the advantages and limitations of fingerprint vs. name-based vetting. It’s important to note that fingerprinting doesn’t automatically give the whole picture, such as telling if an arrest record was dismissed or expunged.