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Helping our readers better understand all the important aspects of the employment background screening process is very important to us. We use this blog as a way to help this happen. When an employee applies for a job, they may wonder, “How far back will a background check go?” This is something that both employees and employers need to know. Whether you are seeking employment or seeking a new employee, the answer depends on a few factors, and we will talk about that today.

How Far Back?

If you are hiring a new employee, regardless of your industry you should know that the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) provides certain rules that must be upheld. You may have heard of the “7-Year Rule” before. The specific time that an organization can “look back” is dependent on the state, but all states must abide by the guidelines of FCRA at a minimum. This is known as the 7-year rule. 

The 7-Year Rule

In a nutshell, the 7-year rule states that all civil judgments, civil suits, arrest records, and paid tax liens cannot be reported in a background investigation or other consumer report after 7 years. This applies to all 50 states, but in some instances, states do have their own regulations and specificity. 

For example, in New York, non-convictions cannot be reported at all, except for pending charges. 

In the case of criminal convictions, many states are not governed by the 7-year rule. Caps on salary and timeframe restrictions apply. 

Convictions in New York can only be reported back to 7 years, based on the disposition date. Non-Convictions cannot be reported at all regardless of age, except for pending charges, 

BUT…there is a salary exemption..

If the salary is expected to be $25,000 or more, the 7-year exemptions do not apply. In addition, if a life insurance policy of $50,000 or more is included in an employee benefits package, this too would mean that background checks CAN include criminal information that is older than 7 years. 

Best Next Step

We understand how this can become a bit confusing, and that’s why it’s always vital to partner with a background screening company who truly cares about their clients. We pride ourselves on customer service, and being thorough, and this helps us earn the trust and respect of our clients. We are always here to help, and if you have any questions regarding the 7 year rule in your state, please give us a call or reach out to us via our contact form and we will get back to you!