Blog Post

How To Read a Background Check: How Information Impacts Decision Making

Background Screening | April 20, 2023
how to read a background check

A background check is an important tool used by organizations to evaluate an individual contractor’s criminal history, driving record, sex offender record, and more. If you’re working with background checks, it’s important to know how to read them and to understand not just what it includes but also what it doesn’t. Here are some key things to keep in mind.

How to Read a Background Check: What’s Included

Criminal Record

This is definitely one of the most important parts of a background check. This will list any prior convictions or arrests that the individual has had, the disposition, nature, and date of the offense, as well as whether the issue has been satisfied. These may be run at the county, state, or federal level and may reveal misdemeanor or felony records for an individual. 

It’s important to note that not all criminal records will disqualify someone from consideration. It is important to consider the nature of the offense and how recent it was, whether it is relevant to the role they will hold, as well as whether there is a pattern of behavior or general disregard for the law that should be considered.

Since criminal records are based primarily on the jurisdiction in the US – county, state, or federal level – it is possible that records are not all going to be located. Typically, organizations will run a search based on seven years of residential address history while also complimenting it with a database search which may include additional jurisdictions. This provides a more comprehensive approach.

Sex Offender Record

While sexual offenses may be included in the criminal record check portionhow to read a background check sex offender search of a background report, a specific search of sex offender registries is a valuable search, especially when the individual will be working unsupervised, in customer homes, or in a situation where they may exert dominance over another individual. This search will indicate if the individual is listed on a registry; in some cases, it will also include the crime(s) that resulted in the registration requirement, as well as identifying information and any known restrictions and time they must remain on the registry. 

Driving Record

If the position involves driving or operating machinery, especially under the organization’s name or even insurance coverage, a driving record check may be included in the background check. This will show any violations or accidents that the individual has had while driving, as well as confirm that the license is active and in good standing. Records that return a suspended, revoked, or inactive license should be addressed with the individual if a license is required for the role they will hold.

When reviewing a background check report, it’s important to carefully examine each section and look for any discrepancies or red flags. It’s important to note that different types of background checks may include different information depending on what is relevant to the situation at hand. Likewise, issues that may exclude someone from consideration for one role, may not apply to another role. Understanding what is included in the background check and what information can, and should be used, is the responsibility of the organization requesting the check. Having clear guidelines on what is relevant before any background check is ordered is a strong process consideration many organizations adopt.

Contact us today for help with contractor background screening and other contractor compliance needs.

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

About PlusOne Solutions

PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing in compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments. To learn more, visit

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