When it comes to background checks, a common topic is the advantages of fingerprint background checks versus regular background checks. This topic is common because people want to know a background check and a fingerprint check. It may be surprising that fingerprint background checks are often not recommended as a primary source of information for most companies. Fingerprint checks can supplement and support safety; they have significant shortcomings that make them poorly suited for employment screening.
Digital screening is another popular background check preferred these days. Order an instant online background check and learn how your online profile looks to others, including potential employers. How to submit an FBI criminal record check.
Fingerprint Check vs. Name-Based Background Check
Fingerprint background checks involve comparing an applicant’s fingerprints against state and federal fingerprint databases. These checks only look for prior arrests and report crimes that are in the database. A major advantage of fingerprint checks is that they are unhindered by false information, such as fake names since every individual has unique fingerprints.
Name-based background checks, on the other hand, compare a candidate’s information against available criminal records. These are used to determine prior criminal records and can also verify name, birth date, and social security number, among other personal identifiers. In contrast, name-based background checks can be used to verify an applicant’s professional certifications, education, past employment history, and driving record.
Fingerprint databases were designed for law enforcement. As such, fingerprint databases available to the public are often out of date are never geographically comprehensive. While some industries may find fingerprinting useful, many companies will find fingerprint checks an inefficient use of time and money.
Overall, name-based background checks are a better choice for minimizing hiring risks when provided by an accredited screener. Name-based background checks can be specifically designed for employment. In addition, name-based background checks are more comprehensive and compliant than fingerprint checks alone.
Understanding Fingerprint Checks
Many people erroneously consider fingerprint checks the best approach to criminal background screening. There is no doubt that fingerprints are unique to each individual and that law enforcement extensively keeps track of criminal fingerprints. In certain situations, it is mandated by the government.
However, fingerprints have several shortcomings and limitations, making them poorly suited to employment background screening. For starters, state and FBI fingerprint databases are designed for criminals and not potential employment seekers. Other flaws include:
- The FBI database does not include final or disposition information many as 50% of the criminal records in the database.
- Fingerprint records are not updated regularly. Sometimes, they are weeks and months out of date.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines state that arrests that do not result in convictions should not be considered while making a hiring decision. Unfortunately, fingerprint-based records often include these arrests. This is because of its disproportionate impact on non-Caucasian communities.
- The subjects cannot challenge FBI reports or rap sheets
Many medium and large-scale organizations have turned to alternative screening options, such as name-based checks, considering these flaws.