A background check is the process of finding out information about someone who has applied for a job, or is interested in renting an apartment. The results are usually available within minutes, and can reveal things like criminal convictions, financial history, immigration status, and much more.
In most cases you don’t have to pay any money upfront, but when you do need to pay, it’s often less than $50. Many companies use background checks as part of their hiring procedures, but some people also use them to find tenants for apartments they own.
But not all background checks take the same amount of time. They’re based on many factors, including how thorough the search is going to be, what type of company requested the report, and whether the person submitting the request is affiliated with the employer.
How long will a background check take? Here’s what you need to know.
When Are Background Checks Performed?
Most employers perform background checks at the end of the interview process. In this case, you’ll probably be asked to fill out paperwork that includes your name, social security number, address, and phone number. If you’ve ever had a credit card, bank account, or driver’s license application denied because of something on your record, you might have been asked to provide additional information like copies of court records, judgments, tax returns, and so on. You may even have been required to prove your identity by providing identification documents like your passport or birth certificate.
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This is the time when most background checks begin. However, it’s possible to schedule a background check before the person applying for employment meets with you. For example, if you’re considering taking a test drive from a car dealership, you could ask if you can have a background check performed to make sure the vehicle is in good condition. This might only take a few minutes, but it’s worth checking out.
Some employers perform background checks immediately upon completing the application form. This means there are no extra steps involved. Other times, the individual filling out the application form will be asked to wait while the background check is being conducted.
How Long Does It Generally Take To Perform A Background Check?
The average length of time for a background check is 30-60 minutes. It depends on how thorough the search is going to be, the company requesting the report, and how much information the applicant provides.
If the background check is done by the employer, the search is likely to be fairly detailed. For example, an auto repair shop would want to know where you live, your previous residences, and where you were born. The owner of the shop might also ask questions like “Do you have any relatives living in Michigan?”
When the background check is done by another party, such as a rental agent or landlord, the search is likely to be much less detailed. They might simply ask for the person’s full name and date of birth.
What Information Is Included In A Background Check Report?
While every background check report contains some information, it’s important to understand that each one is unique. Each state maintains its own database of criminal records, so reports often don’t include records from other states. Some localities maintain their own databases too, making information from one city or county unavailable in others.
For these reasons, background checks aren’t always completely accurate. Depending on the nature of your work, you may be subject to different laws regarding privacy, and therefore have different rights regarding what kind of information is included in your report.
For instance, if you work with children, it’s illegal for an employer to ask about juvenile arrests, unless it’s related to safety concerns. But if you’re a teacher, it’s legal to ask about prior arrests.
Other types of background checks contain more information than just names and dates of birth. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, for example, a background check will certainly show that fact. In addition, some reports will include information that’s not public knowledge, such as medical conditions that affect your ability to hold down a job.
Finally, some employers may require additional information at the time of the search. For example, if you’re looking for a new position as a salesperson, the company conducting the background check may want to know your salary expectations. Or if you’re looking for a roommate, the background check may ask about your finances.
How Much Does It Cost To Conduct A Background Check?
Depending on the information you need and which company performs the search, the cost of a background check can range anywhere from $25 to over $100. There are several factors contributing to the overall price.
One factor is the kind of information that’s searched. For example, if you’re applying for a job that requires a security clearance, you’ll need to provide documentation verifying that you’re free of certain mental health issues. If you’re applying for a job at a small business, your employer may be willing to spend less than $100 to determine if you have a clean record.
Another factor is the level of detail that’s needed. A background check report will typically include both your name and date of birth, but sometimes it’ll also include your Social Security number, place of birth, and residence. Finally, the type of company performing the search, along with the type of information that’s searched, can also add to the final price tag.
How Long Does It Take To Get Your Background Check Results?
It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week to receive the results of a background check. Sometimes they arrive quickly, but other times they can take longer.
Many background checks are performed online. In this case, the report is sent directly to the employer and the results should be available within a day.
On the other hand, if the company requests that you visit their office to complete the search, you may have to wait until the next business day. Once the report arrives, it’s usually printed out and given to you.
Are There Any Consequences Of Doing A Background Check?
There are two main consequences of doing a background check. First, you won’t know if the results are valid unless you compare them to another source. Second, if you submit false information during the course of the background check, you could face serious penalties.
For example, if you lie about a criminal conviction, you could go to jail. If you lie about a financial situation, you could lose your home or car. In either case, you could face fines and restitution. And if you lie about having a drug problem, you could risk losing your right to vote.
Fortunately, most background checks include enough information that it’s easy to verify the validity of the results. If you suspect the results are incorrect, you should contact the company that conducted the background check and let them know. They should be able to validate the information.