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Fingerprinting vs Background Checks

Fingerprinting vs Background Checks

Contrary to popular belief, there is no single government database containing complete and up to date records regarding a person’s criminal history.  The use of FBI fingerprint background checks for employment is rapidly increasing.

 Roughly 17 million FBI fingerprint background checks were conducted for employment and licensing purposes in 2012 which is six times the number conducted a decade ago.  Despite federal mandates that require the background report to be complete and accurate, 50 % of the FBI’s records fail to include information on the final disposition of the case.  The missing information is frequently beneficial to job seekers.  For example, one-third of felony arrests do not result in a conviction and many others are reduced to misdemeanors. (National Employment Law Project – July 2013) 

This incomplete and out of date information as well as failure to report final outcomes of arrests are reasons why fingerprint-based reports may not tell the whole story.  

Some other reasons fingerprinting is losing its luster:

  • Fingerprint searches require a complex and segmented process, and they often can’t be provided countrywide for employment purposes. According to the FBI, which provides fingerprinting results, “An FBI-approved Channeler cannot process a request for employment and/or licensing purposes within the United States. This type of request should be coordinated with the appropriate state identification bureau (or state police) for the correct procedures.” ( FBI.gov )
  • Some arrests don’t include fingerprints.  Some states and municipalities may choose to not fingerprint during certain time periods.  Other states or counties may fail to report records to the FBI.
  • State and local authorities also tend to be “extremely irregular” in the timeliness of their reports to the FBI, according to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).
  • Fingerprinting cannot be added to your screening process with any cohesiveness. You will often have to rely on your candidate to complete the complicated process on their own and provide accurate information back to you.
  • Fingerprint records do not comply with EEOC and FCRA compliance.
  • The FBI does not have an obligation to ensure that the FBI fingerprinting database is accurate or updated.

“The National Academy of Sciences study was “not able to find a body of evidence indicating whether fingerprinting added to safety one way or another,” and the state of Maryland recently came to the same conclusion. In-state after state, fingerprint databases have proven to have incomplete or missing records, or they are simply not up to date.” -Thomas Frazier The Buffalo News

The advantages of using a Consumer Reporting Agency for background checks should be considered in light of the fingerprint-based report shortcomings.

  • CRA’s will seeks out many sources for criminal data, including courthouse records at the national, state, and local levels and use a person’s name, social security number, date of birth, alias names, driver license to search these records.
  • The Live County Check is one of the most thorough checks, which include in-person searches at county courthouses. Since not all counties in the U.S. make criminal records available online, in-person searches are the best way to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date records available. Criminal searches performed by an FCRA-compliant background screening company use these parameters and others to retrieve the most current information that can be acquired in the hiring decision.
  • Professional screening companies must follow reporting limitations in FCRA and state laws.  
  • Professional screening companies must use “reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy”.  
  • Professional screening companies must reinvestigate if there is a dispute.

C4 Operations will offer a custom package featuring only the background checks you need.    Our research staff is certified with the National Association of Professional  Background Screeners (NAPBS) and our 24 hours customer service hours ensure that you will always have someone to talk to if there are questions about a background check report.  

We Offer Fingerprinting services


While every caution has been taken to provide our readers with the most accurate information and honest analysis, please use your discretion before taking any decisions based on the information in this blog. Each city, County, and State may have its own regulations and requirements.  This blog was written to bring up a conversation for you and your business.  C4 Operations is not a law firm and does not claim to offer legal advice.  Please use the local legal counsel before any actions. The author will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

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