How FBI Criminal Records Work

How the FBI is Flawed

When it comes to employment background checks, many believe that FBI searches are the gold standard and the best quality.  However, data reveals that the FBI employment background check is seriously flawed.  This can be bad news for employers that trust and count on the FBI to do a thorough job.

Check out below to learn more.

Dream vs Reality

Most Americans assume that a FBI background check looks something like this:

In reality, FBI reports look closer to this: 

How Criminal Records Work

Criminal records are handled at the county level. When an individual is arrested, pulled over, or merely detained—that information is communicated to and processed by the appropriate county court.  In some cases the individual is fingerprinted—but not in all cases.

Criminal records are handled at the county level. When an individual is arrested, pulled over, or merely detained—that information is communicated to and processed by the appropriate county court.  In some cases the individual is fingerprinted—but not in all cases.

Unfortunately, many states do not have appropriate software infrastructure that communicates information from all county courts within the state. Most do not have statewide repositories comprising of all criminal records handled within the state.  Only 5.5% of US states report the outcome of an arrest at least 90%-100% of the time.

Unfortunately, many states do not have appropriate software infrastructure that communicates information from all county courts within the state. Most do not have statewide repositories comprising of all criminal records handled within the state.  Only 5.5% of US states report the outcome of an arrest at least 90%-100% of the time.

With one-third of felony arrests not resulting in a conviction, many employers viewing arrest records with no final disposition are left in muddy compliance water. Even records that have been expunged or sealed can show up as an arrest only—with no additional information.

With one-third of felony arrests not resulting in a conviction, many employers viewing arrest records with no final disposition are left in muddy compliance water. Even records that have been expunged or sealed can show up as an arrest only—with no additional information.

How the FBI Search Works

The FBI does not dig deeper or search other databases to help supplement incomplete information.

They rely solely on the state.

FBI Search Results

The Justice Department admits that almost 50% of their background check records are incomplete and do not contain the final outcome of a case.

The National Employment Law Project estimates that 1.8 million workers a year are subject to FBI background checks that include faulty or incomplete info, resulting in 600,000 workers being hurt by the misinformation that keeps them from employment. 

Most of the time, the FBI search is relying on records of individuals who have been fingerprinted. Yet, many crimes in numerous states get processed without fingerprints.  By relying on a fingerprint search, you miss out on all records not fingerprinted.

The Right Way to do a Background Check

Instead of relying on the FBI, more accurate searches can be done using personal identifiers (name, DOB, SSN) at the correct source.

A good background check should also look into…

Local searches: These should be done at the county level and only at the state level if the state has a true statewide repository.

Driving Records: In some states DUI’s are a driving record, not a criminal record.

A good background check should also look into…

Local searches: These should be done at the county level and only at the state level if the state has a true statewide repository.

Driving Records: In some states DUI’s are a driving record, not a criminal record.

Nationwide criminal database:

These searches are an inexpensive way of casting a net over the country to potentially find records in areas that the candidate has not lived in. Typically, this search also includes a nationwide sex offender registry search.

…and do any other additional searches, like past employment verification, education verification, drug tests and more.

Don’t miss out on vital information for your next hire.

Accurate Information

Less Expensive

Quicker Results

Easier