How Far Does A Background Check Go?

Background checks have emerged as a go-to tool for employers, landlords, and others making decisions about other people. But just how far back do they go? The answer is: It depends on the type of background check being performed.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how far back different types of background checks go, as well as some factors that can influence the depth of a check.

How Far Does A Background Check Go
How Far Does A Background Check Go
  1. Employment Background Checks

Employment background checks are probably the most prevalent type of background check. They are also generally the least intrusive since employers are only interested in information that is relevant to the job in question.

Depending on the position you are considering the candidate for, the breadth and depth of a work history check can change. Although there can be exceptions for specific industries, several states have a seven-year restriction on the lookback time for background checks.

For example, state or local laws can require the employer to do a background check with a longer lookback time if the employee works with at-risk or vulnerable groups, such as children, the elderly, or the disabled.

In general, though, most employment background checks will go back seven years. The only time they would go back further is if the applicant has been convicted of a crime relevant to the job in question.

  1. Rental Background Checks

For many landlords, a potential tenant’s rental history is just as important as their employment history. After all, this person will be living on your property and responsible for paying rent on time each month.

Most rental background checks will go back at least two years, although some may go back further. The landlord will usually request information about evictions, late rent payments, and any damages to previous properties.

  1. Educational Background Checks

Educational background checks are becoming more common, especially for positions that require a high level of expertise or qualifications.

Most educational background checks will go back at least five years, although some may go back to the applicant’s high school years. The education background check will usually include verification of the applicant’s degrees, diplomas, and transcripts.

In some cases, the employer may contact the schools directly to verify that the applicant attended and graduated from their programs. This is more common for positions that require professional licensure or certification.

  1. Financial Background Checks

Financial background checks are most commonly used by landlords and creditors, although employers may also request this type of information in some cases.

A financial background check will usually go back at least two years, although some creditors may request information from further back. The creditor will usually request information about the applicant’s credit score, outstanding debts, and payment history.

  1. Personal Background Checks

Personal background checks are becoming more common as social media and other online platforms make it easier for employers and landlords to access this information.

Most personal background checks will go back at least five years. However, some premium background check services may offer information from further back. The type of information included in a personal background check will vary, but it can include the applicant’s social media activity, criminal records, and financial history.

In some cases, the employer or landlord may also request a character reference from someone who knows the applicant well. This is rarer, but it can give the employer or landlord a better idea of what kind of person the applicant is.


What Factors Determine How Far Back A Background Check Goes?

There are a few factors that can determine how far back a background check goes. These include:

  • The type of background check: As mentioned above, different types of background checks will go back to different lengths. For example, an employment background check will usually only go back seven years, while a financial background check can go back further.
  • The state: Some states have laws that limit how far back a background check can go. For example, California has a law that limits criminal background checks to seven years.
  • The company: Some companies have their own policies that determine how far back a background check can go. For example, some companies may only request information from the past five years.

Wrapping Up

To sum it up, most background checks will go back at least 2-5 years. However, there are some exceptions, such as those mentioned above. It is important to check with the company or state laws to see how far back a background check can go before requesting one.


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