Individual Background Checks

A standard background check can include verification of a person’s education history. This may involve checking with schools to confirm degrees and certifications. This review must follow all legal regulations and preserve an individual’s right to privacy.


Employers can’t use information from background checks to discriminate against an applicant or employee on the basis of race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or age.

Criminal Record Check

Criminal background checks are a crucial element of the screening process that helps employers understand an applicant’s past felony and misdemeanor convictions. The results of the search will reveal details including arrests, charges, case number(s), disposition and sentencing. They also indicate whether the offenses were a felony or misdemeanor, which can help you determine an appropriate hiring policy.

A standard New York criminal record check provides information reported to the state by police departments, district attorney offices and courts. However, it will not include records of arrests and convictions that may be in other states or countries. Private companies offer this type of background check through a database search using an individual’s name and date of birth. They will charge a fee for this service.

Some employers prefer to conduct a fingerprint-based background check, which is more thorough and can reveal records from other jurisdictions. This is typically required for jobs that involve children or security guards. A fingerprint-based background check will take longer to complete.

Employers should know that New York State has a law called the Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPL) that prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s criminal history. They should be sure that the check they order meets the requirements of the FEPL, and should refrain from asking questions about past misdemeanors or felonies that are more than seven years old.

Driving Record Check

A driving record check (also known as an MVR) checks a candidate’s state department of motor vehicles or similar government agency to find traffic infractions, accidents and other records. This information can help you determine whether your candidate is a safe driver and meets your company’s driving requirements for certain positions, such as local delivery drivers or couriers, or ambulance drivers.

Most states allow individuals to request a copy of their driving record. However, it can take a while and increases the risk that the applicant could alter the report. Instead, many employers work with pre-employment screening agencies that specialize in MVR checks and can provide the results quickly and legally. The agency also can help ensure compliance with FCRA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on protected characteristics.

A commercial MVR check typically searches the state where the individual lives and where they have a current or past driver’s license. The search may also include previous addresses where the person lived or worked, as these can impact their driving history. Most MVR checks go back three years, but some states may offer a five- or seven-year search.

Before conducting a driving record check, it’s important to inform the candidate of your intention and obtain their consent in writing. It’s also a good idea to follow any ban-the-box laws in your jurisdiction.

Credit Report

The credit report is a snapshot of an individual’s borrowing and repayment history. It consists of data such as how long you’ve had accounts, your credit to loan ratio, how many open credit cards you have, and whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy. It also shows how much debt you currently have and any public records, such as foreclosures, repossessions or liens. A credit check is often a component of a background check that’s conducted for employment, tenancy or certain government roles. Employers may be looking for indicators of financial distress that could put them at risk of embezzlement or theft of company funds or confidential information.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers must get your consent and authorization to access your credit before doing so. They’ll also need to specify the permissible purpose (like “employment purposes”) for which they’re requesting it. This will appear in a section of your report marked as such, and will be distinguished from other hard inquiries by the use of text stating “employment purposes.” If you are denied a job or housing opportunity due to what’s on your credit check, under federal law, the employer must advise you of the specific reasons. They’ll also have to give you a copy of the report for review. If it’s incorrect, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau.

Reference Check

The reference check is a process whereby current and former co-workers interview an applicant about their work experience, skills and ability. The goal is to gain insights into an applicant’s reliability, ability to communicate and manage projects or team members, as well as past behaviors that may indicate future behaviours. This type of verification typically involves current and former managers and other direct supervisors.

During the reference check, it is important to discuss your expectations for the candidate and the specific competencies you are looking for in this particular position. This allows for more honest and comprehensive feedback. It is also helpful to verify any information provided by the candidate on their resume or job application and during the interview process.

While most references will provide a positive and descriptive picture of your candidates, it is important to ask probing questions that focus on the applicant’s abilities and behaviours that are relevant to the position for which you are hiring. The questions should also be consistent to ensure that the same set of questions are asked of all referees in order to produce a more accurate and comparable evaluation.

It is also important to avoid questions that are considered discriminatory and that relate to prohibited grounds of employment discrimination as specified in the Canadian Human Rights Act. This includes questions related to age, sex, ethnicity, religion, disability and marital status.