CRA Background Check or FBI Fingerprint? What You REALLY Need to Know

ICYMI, we did a series of profiles on some of our wonderful Active Screening team members at the start of the year. Our goal was to give you an inside look at our intelligent decision makers and creative geniuses who take their extraordinary knowledge of the screening industry and turn it into user-friendly, trend-setting solutions for you. Since the world of background checks is constantly evolving with compliance and legal changes, what our team manages to pull off is pretty remarkable.

Click on these headers to read up on our staffers:

Department Profile: Melissa Schol, Client Services Manager
Department Profile: Kerry Rydman, Information Technology Manager
Department Profile: Travis Del Rosal, Research Manager

There is one expert in particular who really keeps all of us on our toes by ensuring we’re all up to speed on the latest compliance laws, changes and trends. We wrote about him here (Compliance 101 with Benton Mobley, Director of Compliance) and really recommend you take some time to read his profile because it will give you a much better understanding of the complexities of compliance and what measures the team at Active Screening takes to make sure nothing slips off their radar.

One of the things that is hot on Mr. Mobley’s radar is the differences in the quality of background checks and reporting that is delivered by using a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) versus using the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or fingerprint searches. Mr. Mobley was recently in Washington, DC to talk with federal legislators on the importance of knowing the difference between the two types of screening options and why an FBI fingerprint check simply doesn’t cut it.

 A fingerprint background check reveals personal data like your birth, names, addresses, employment and arrests. An FBI fingerprint check will provide your criminal conviction history. Fingerprints alone, however, don’t paint the whole picture and can have incomplete or inaccurate information. A fingerprint check doesn’t include current reports on a person’s use of illegal substances. Only a drug test would prove that. When you consider that the FBI currently has 77.7 million individuals on file in its master criminal database – or nearly one out of every three American adults – you realize how brutal mistakes can be on our entire population. Even more troubling, with between 10,000 and 12,000 new names added each day, this problem isn’t going to go away with time. The ripple effect will continue to grow until there is a veritable tsunami of faulty results.

Consider this incredibly scary story out of Ohio where the entire state’s background check system, which relies on fingerprints, is faulty, unreliable, and letting criminals slip through the cracks. Or this CNN op-ed that cites several real world stories where people were wrongly labeled convicts through a background check.

In contrast, a background check performed by Active Screening results in a well-rounded and researched portfolio of a candidate. Arrest records are not the only things that matter when it comes to vetting a candidate. Even though criminal courts/records are the best source for criminal records, they are not the only place where information should be sourced about a candidate. Consumer Reporting Agencies like Active Screening often gather a host of information about a candidate so that employers have a fully painted picture of the person they’re considering bringing on board. These are just some of the services we provide at Active Screening:

Identity & Credit – Establish your applicant’s identity, address history and personal responsibility.

Driver’s Records – Determine eligibility for driving a company or personal vehicle for business use.

Criminal Records – Identify criminal convictions or lack thereof so that you can hire with confidence.

References & Credentialing – Confirm the information provided on a resume and/or job application.

Clinical Services – Insulate your organization from workplace accidents, violence and rising health care costs.

DOT Employers Clinical Services – Reduce the costs of your DOT clinical services program through our online suite of screening, collection and management services.

Electronic I-9 Solutions – Verify your applicants right to work through integration with E-Verify.

What sets Active Screening and some other CRAs apart from the FBI fingerprint check is that we have real people – actual boots-on-the-ground researchers who actively work to track down and verify information. We do not simply let a computer 
aggregate data and spit out results that may or may not be accurate. Although we are quick and efficient at what we do (it’s one of the nice hallmarks of working with an NAPBS-accredited agency), we know that nothing can produce results, find errors, locate nuances, stay on top of compliance laws and trends, and double-check information like a human can.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of working with a CRA vs. using fingerprints – and why you should ALWAYS choose to work with a CRA:

  • Screening industry is heavily regulated by federal and some state FCRA laws – FBI is not
  • Screening industry has A LOT of consumer protection built in – FBI does not
  • Candidates can dispute and get dispute resolved in 30 days or less – FBI puts it on the candidate who may never get dispute resolved or not in a timely manner
  • Expunged records at the court level may still show up on FBI check
  • We go to the source for criminal records – 50% of FBI records in the database are arrest only – this per the Department of Justice
  • Currently the US Census Bureau is in hot water with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) because they used the FBI database to screen and disqualified tens of thousands of candidates based on arrest which resulted from an incomplete search from the database.
  • Despite offering more in-depth and accurate information, CRAs have fast turn-around times.

If you still have questions about the differences, please leave us a comment below or give one of our team members a call at 1-800-319-5580. We’d be glad to keep this important issue on your radar.

This entry was posted in Applicant-Entry Solutions, Background Screening, Clinical Services, Criminal Records, DOT Employers Clinical Services, Driver’s Records, Electronic I-9 Solutions, General, Identity & Credit, Industry Solutions, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.