Sound business practice requires routine background checks on all prospective employees prior to offering employment. Background checks alert you to any potential character flaws, conflicts of interest and past criminal behavior, which might reflect on the candidate's ability to perform his job duties. Performing a thorough background check requires a minimum of the candidate's full name and date of birth. Additional information might be found using a Social Security number and a driver's license number.

Basic Searches

You might get limited information performing a basic Internet search on the job candidate in question. Basic searches give you additional information such as social networking profiles and some public record s. For candidates with a common name, you need an additional identifier to distinguish the candidate from other people with that name.

Background Checks

In-depth background checks require a name and date of birth at a bare minimum. You need this information to pull credit reports and criminal background information on your potential employee. If you do not have the date of birth, you may substitute a different unique identifier, such as Social Security number or driver's license number, depending on the vendor you use to pull the records.

Required Notifications

The types of background checks you pull for employment fall under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Credit reports are not open public information. Pulling a credit report requires written authorization from the person. Criminal reports are open to public record, but still require a unique identifier to ensure you are finding the correct person and avoiding a case of mistaken identity. You must provide an Adverse Action Notice to any candidate you do not hire based on information contained in the credit report or screening reports you purchase.


When reviewing the background check, take into consideration all information, but do not discredit an applicant based only on information in his reports. Talk to the applicant and ask for an explanation for any adverse information prior to denying employment. Should you extend employment, you also need to obtain written authorization to pull periodic background checks on the employee.