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Background Screening

Background Screening

Background Screening is more than Criminal Record Checks. The objective in carrying out comprehensive background screening is to ensure that the applicant is who he/she says they are (Identity Verification), that they have done what they say they have done (Employment Verification and/or Employment/Personal References), have attained the level of education stated (Education Validation), are licensed to do what they do (Professional Credential Validation and/or Driving History) and that they are of good character (Criminal Record Checks) An additional tool of great value is an Attitude and Behavioral Assessment that establishes Cultural and/or Job Fit.

Screening Programs

Not all jobs are equal and therefore background screening programs should vary to match the job being filled. The make up of the screening program for a given job should be the same for all applicants for that job, and the components of the program must have a relevance to the job.

For example, the fact that an applicant has a conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) should not generally preclude him/her from a clerical job, but the presence of a conviction for assault may well do so.

Most screening programs will consist of a basic mix for all applicants, plus other inquiries for specialist job positions. The following are the main components of background screening programs. Other inquiries may be made and information is available from your account manager or from

Identity Verification - Social Security Number Validation and Residence Trace

This is where the process begins, and establishes the truthfulness of the candidate. The applicants Social Security Number (SSN) will be validated, and a list of previous addresses used will be provided. These may be compared against those provided on the application form and is the basis for criminal record checks. The inquiry may also provide the applicant's phone numbers, and will include a search of the index of Social Security Numbers subject of death filings. Any discrepancies provide an additional avenue for research.

Criminal Record Checks

The FBI criminal records (NCIC) are only available for designated professions and some government departments. These are typically in the security, banking and some other specialist industries.

Federal Criminal Records

These are generally cases of interstate criminal activity or where charges of a serious nature have been brought by Federal Agencies. It is not common practice for searches to be conducted in these courts for everyday jobs. The courts operate in Districts and further details may be obtained from your account manager.

Statewide Criminal Records

As the name implies these are records compiled by state repositories (usually the state police) from information on arrests received from police and sheriff's offices within the state. These records may not contain all arrests, may not contain dispositions, and may not contain records of arrest warrants issued at the county courts. They are not available as public record in the following states: AZ, CA, HI, LA, MS, MT, NJ.

County Criminal Records

The county court is where most criminal cases are conducted and are generally viewed as the "core" of the criminal record check, and is usually carried out in the counties of residence for the past seven years. This search consists of an examination of the court's index of cases by subject name and is the most reliable of all types of criminal record check available. Felony and Misdemeanor records are searched by professional researchers who know the idiosyncrasies of their particular courts.

Note:  It is very common for employers to ask applicants if they have ever been convicted of a felony. It is also very common for plea bargains to reduce charges from the serious Felony to a lesser Misdemeanor to facilitate cases through the courts.

DiscoveryPlus Criminal Record File

This is a name and date of birth search and includes the sex offender violent offender database, several local city and county courts and municipalities, state databases, and many national and international databases used by the Department of Homeland Security. The OffenderScan™ search includes registered sex offenders in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, several U.S. Territories and Native American Tribes. This sex offender database is updated weekly for accurate information. 

Foreign Criminal Records

Not all countries allow access to criminal records for public purposes. Those that do have different rules of access, different levels of reliability and some involve high cost and long turnaround times. Please speak to your account manager or email your inquiry to

Motor Vehicle Driving Record (MVR)

If the applicant or current employee is likely to drive a company vehicle or their own vehicle on company business, it is essential that knowledge of their driving history is obtained. The employment of an unlicensed driver, or one with a bad track record, places the employer in a very precarious situation in the event of an at fault accident.

Credit Check

If the applicant or current employee is likely to have financial responsibilities in the job position then a credit check should be carried out at a National Credit Bureau. This check may give details of credit debt referred to collections, bankruptcies, previous employment, as well as account status, amounts owed, payment history and rating.  There must be a reason connected with job responsibilities before you should consider requesting credit bureau reports.  Poor credit in itself should not be considered a reason for adverse action.

SingleSource is not a direct provider of credit reports but has partnered with Merchants Credit Bureau (MCB) to provide them to our clients.

Employment Verification

It is not uncommon for an applicant to exaggerate the job position held, the level of pay, or even the dates of employment. It is essential to verify employment details provided as a test of honesty and to ensure they have the experience they claim. The information obtained may include job position, salary, reason for leaving, eligibility for rehire, reasons not to hire, and overall performance.

Employment or Personal Reference

This is an important area to consider in background screening. After all, who knows the applicant better than those who have supervised him/her. A telephone interview is held with the previous employers (or personal reference) and behaviors and character are investigated. The areas covered include Reliability, Performance, Team Player, Trustworthiness, and more. The Referee is also asked for any reasons why this person should not be hired.

All but 7 states have statutes on the books which protect those giving references, provided that they are true and not given with malice or with intent to prevent the applicant getting hired. This dispels the myth created by attorneys that the absolute minimum of information should be given. In fact failure to disclose may shift the liability for the malfeasance of the applicant to the referee.

Education Validation

Some positions require minimum academic qualifications, such as a Bachelor's Degree, or greater. Many applicants do not possess these but in order to obtain employment will lie about their qualifications.

In today's high tech world many applicants are "self taught" or have attended courses and do not have a degree in the subject matter yet can often fool an interviewer or pass a simple aptitude test. It's not until a number of months down the line that their true capabilities are discovered by which time much expenditure has been made in their training, and projects grind to a halt. The MS claimed is found to be history, geography, or some other perfectly good but totally unrelated degree.

These applicants and others often resort to degrees obtained through the Internet from "Diploma Mills". These organizations provide totally worthless diplomas from colleges and universities with very similar names to the real entity. They even offer transcripts and will verify the degrees. Your professional background screening company monitors these and makes sure that bogus degrees do not facilitate bad hiring decisions. Currently there are over 300 active Diploma Mills with new ones appearing daily.

Professional Credential Validation

Those jobs requiring state or federal licensure or certification present a need for the claims of the applicant in this regard to be validated. The license is validated with the appropriate state or federal issuer and may provide such information as issue date, type, expiry date, status, and any disciplinary activity.

Drug Screening

Drug or alcohol abuse presents safety and health risks not only for the drug user but also for any other person in contact with or affected by that user's work. An employer has a responsibility to all of its employees to provide a safe workplace and also a responsibility to the public to ensure their safety. The necessity of having drug-free and alcohol-free employees at work requires the employer to adopt a plan. For advice on such plans please contact your account manager or email

Additional Inquiries

Designed for organizations required to conduct specific inquiries by statute, policy-driven due diligence, or for management level positions. These specialized searches may utilize:

  • State Divisions of Workers Compensation
  • Fraud and Abuse Control Information System (FACIS)
  • Office of Inspector General (OIG)
  • U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)

 To set up an account, please call us at 800 713-3412 extension 152 to speak with a Sales Support staff member.






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