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Questions & Answers

Read some of our frequently asked questions on background checks and record searches. If your question is not answered here feel free to contact us.

Q: Why should I screen at all?
A: Pre-employment Screening is Now Seen as Essential.

While background screening has always been considered an important factor in the hiring process, there has been significant expansion recently in the number of companies doing screenings, the scope of their background screening program, and the number of background screening providers.

In the past five years, there has been almost a 50% increase in pre-employment screening.

In fact, almost 93% of employers do some form of screening, with 80% conducting background checks for all open positions.

Two important factors have caused a massive increase in the need for background screening:

• The 9/11 terrorist attacks
• Multi-million dollar employer liability suits being lost by major corporations

Aside from the recent increase, the majority of companies have done background screenings due to the high occurrence of at-risk applicants and the need to protect their assets, customers, and current employees.

Q: What are my payment options?
A: Your account can be setup to pay by credit card each time you order a search, or we offer a monthly or bi-monthly invoicing option. With our online payment option, you will always be able to view your invoice and pay it online at any time.

Q: What information is in the Nationwide Criminal Index?
A: The Nationwide Criminal Index is a compilation of available state criminal information, Not all states participate in the Criminal Index, and not all criminal records are in the database, However, it is the fastest and most powerful tool available to employers to quickly and consistently screen potential employees. For more information and exactly which states and what information is in the Nationwide Criminal Index.

Q: Why aren't all criminal records available in the Nationwide Criminal Index?
A: Contrary to popular belief there is no "Master Criminal Database", Reports suggest the even the FBI's NCIC Criminal database that can only be accessed by law enforcement only contains about 60% of all available criminal records, Criminal records are more like a patch work quilt, with each county in a state contributing their piece, not all counties have the time or technology to report all of their information to the state database, creating holes in the quilt, and not all states have the time, technology, money, or desire to allow the public access to criminal information.
This is why no database is 100 % accurate, for the most accurate search we recommend combining the Statewide or Nationwide Criminal Index search with a "Hands On" County Criminal Search.

Q: What is a "Hands On" County Criminal Search?

A: It is said that "All Criminal Justice Starts at the County Level". For the most accurate and up to date criminal information available you must look at the county level. A "Hands On" search is where we obtain the information directly from the court, this is the only way to obtain 100% of all available information, information such as dismissed cases, active warrants, or petite offenses may never make it to a Statewide database, and many counties do not submit any information the their Statewide repositories.

Q: Which search is better the County Criminal Search or the Nationwide Criminal Index?
A: The information in the County Criminal Search in more accurate but the Scope of the search is geographically limited The Nationwide Criminal Index is a very powerful tool that can give you a "Thumb-Nail" of a geographical area and huge amount of data, They are both great tools, each with strengths and weaknesses, we recommend doing the Nationwide as a first step in the hiring process, the following it up with a more diligent search of County Criminal Records in the counties that the applicant has held residence in over that past 7 years.

Q: I know that someone has been arrested in the past. Will this report show that?
A: Arrest records will not be provided. The only criminal record information provided will be related to criminal convictions. If a person was arrested and then released without being convicted, this information will not be reflected in our reports. Depending on the county courthouse, arrest records may occasionally be returned if the case is still ongoing or awaiting trial. Since a person is innocent until proven guilty, arrest records should never be used to make a hiring decision. Only criminal convictions should be used in making decisions.

Q: Will I be charged for a search that comes back with "No Records Found"?
A: Yes. A confirmation of where the search was conducted will be sent back to you along with the search information used in performing your search, and the fact that "no records were found". We have to charge our customers for the search regardless of whether or not records are found, because we incur costs every time we run a search.

Q: How far back do your criminal record searches go? Can I use records beyond 7 years to make hiring decisions?
A: All criminal record searches will go back at least 7 years. Ritter & Associates LP can provide criminal record information beyond 7 years
The Federal FCRA guidelines allow you to make hiring decisions on criminal conviction information going beyond 7 years. However, State FCRA laws in CA, KS, MD, MA, MT, NH, NM, and NV restrict employers to only using the last 7 years of criminal record information for making hiring decisions.

Q: "I know this person has a criminal record, why did your search come up with no records found"?
A: When your search results do not show a criminal record that you expected to find, we have come up with the top reasons that explain why you may think or feel a person has a criminal record but no records where found.
1. The person was never convicted of a crime. Remember, being arrested alone does not constitute a criminal record. A person must be convicted of a crime before they get a criminal record.
2. The criminal offenses were recorded under a different name and/or date of birth then the one you searched with.
3. The criminal records are too new and have not yet been updated in the public records repositories we access to conduct your search.
4. The criminal record is in a different state then the state you searched.
5. The criminal records have been sealed and are no longer accessible to the public. This typically happens in the case of minors with criminal offenses.
6. The criminal records have been expunged (they have been permanently removed which requires the intervention of a judge).
Q: How is a Search Conducted?
A: All of our search products access our extensive network of third party public and private databases. Once you enter the search criteria, our experts comb through these databases in search of the person you are seeking. The more accurate the search criteria you provide, the higher the likelihood that we will find the individual. We then provide a report to you with our findings.

Q: Are your services completely confidential?
A: Yes. We do not sell, trade or, otherwise transfer the personal information that visitors provide during the registration and order process anywhere outside the company.

Q: Why should I search for County criminal records if I can search the State Criminal Records Repository?
A: Unfortunately, the state repositories are databases that rely upon the dependability and completeness of the various agencies that report information to the repository. It has been our experience that the information is less complete than the actual court records.

Q: How does employment screening reduce negligent hiring lawsuits?
A: By screening your perspective employees, you can decide if the applicant is not only suitable for the position in question, but also whether or not they will be reliable and productive additions to your workforce. It also demonstrates a degree of due diligence you have applied in the hiring process.


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