Search scope. What does this mean?

This phrase sounds a little funny or could even make you cringe as if, for example, you were scheduled for a colonoscopy. In the background check industry we often get the question about the length of time we will report criminal records. This is referred to as the search scope. When an employer or landlord conducts a criminal background check we will search for any potential criminal records for the last seven years, as this is the industry standard. However, search scope can vary by state law. If a criminal record populates in our National Criminal Database Alias Search within the last seven years, we would verify this record with the reporting jurisdiction. The National Criminal Database Alias Search is only a starting tool – not all counties in the United States report back to it, therefore holes and gaps may exist. There is a chance that criminal records could be missed if a county does not report back to the National Criminal Database. Some employers may want to consider searching all counties a potential applicant has lived in for the last seven years. This is the industry standard, as well as a due diligent search. The search scope is still seven years of criminal history. The difference is that all counties lived in for the last seven years would be searched rather than only a National Criminal Database search. Our team at C4 Operations Background Check Services can use the last seven years of address history as reported in the Social Security Trace and order the appropriate counties to cover the last seven years of residence history. Some employers gather this address history from their applicant and order county searches based on the information provided by their applicant. The problem here is that you don’t always know if the applicant is giving you the complete address history. With the Social Security trace, you are assured all address history on file that matches the person’s name and social security number will be reviewed.

While initially the idea of a search scope can be confusing, we hope that this has made it more clear. As always, please feel free to reach out to C4 Operations Background Check Services with any questions! We would love to help and provide customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days of week.

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