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6 Types of Background Checks and Their Purposes

6 Types of Background Checks and Their Purposes

HR may use 6 types of background checks: identity verification checks, criminal record checks, motor vehicle record reports, credit report checks, education verification checks, and social media background checks. 

Background checks are a crucial tool in ensuring the integrity and security of your company because they offer insights into a candidate's past that can significantly influence their fit for a role. Let's delve into the six key types and their purposes.



6 Types of Background Checks and Their Purposes


1. Identity Verification Checks: Establish Legitimacy

Identity verification checks confirm the authenticity of a candidate's identity. By scrutinizing official documents such as driver's licenses and social security cards, employers mitigate the risk of fraudulent hires and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

For example, if a job requires an employee to operate a motor vehicle, then an employer may use an identity verification background check to ensure the new hire has a legal driver’s license. If an employee fraudulently presents someone else’s ID and the employer doesn’t verify it, then the employer may be liable for any road accidents the employee is involved in. 


2. Criminal Record Checks: Safeguard the Workplace

Criminal record checks are essential for assessing potential risks associated with a candidate's past criminal history. They ensure your recruits are able to fulfill the duties of their role. For example, a larcenist may not be the best fit for a position that puts them in charge of counting inventory at a jewelry store. 


3. Motor Vehicle Record Reports: Prioritize Driving Safety

For positions involving driving responsibilities, motor vehicle record reports are indispensable. These checks provide insights into a candidate's driving history, helping employers hire individuals who are safe and reliable drivers.

For example, a trucking company may use an MVR report to ensure potential employees don’t have a history of driving under the influence or a track record of at-fault accidents. This is important to ensure their organization is protected from liability, and it may even be a requirement to run these kinds of background checks to insure large trucking vehicles.  


4. Credit Report Checks: Evaluate Financial Responsibility

Credit report background checks dive into a person’s credit history, reporting data like their credit score or current debts. An employer may want to know a candidate’s financial standing for a multitude of reasons. 

For example, if you’re seeking to hire a retirement advisor, you may want to ensure candidates don’t have outstanding debts. That sort of financial history may impact a client’s trust in their advisor’s ability to manage retirement and investment accounts.


5. Education Verification Checks: Validate Credentials

Education verification background checks ensure someone has the degrees or certifications required by a role. Some of this information is accessible to HR via databases, like graduation records at major universities. However, some specific roles or industries may require a more formal verification process. 

For example, if you’re hiring a new physician for a primary care clinic, you may want to go beyond ascertaining graduation from a medical institute. You may want information about how well someone performed in medical school.


6. Social Media Background Checks: Assess Online Persona

Social media background checks, or screenings, are something you may be doing already without considering it an official background check. Employers can hire firms to do deep dives of a candidate’s social media history, but you can also look up and scroll through someone’s Instagram or Facebook profile yourself. 

An employer may consider social media background checks an important part of their onboarding process for many reasons. For example, if you’re hiring a publicist, you may not want to hire someone with a habit of posting inappropriate or incendiary remarks online.



When Should HR Run a Background Check?

Regardless of which background checks you may use in your hiring process, the most important thing to know is that you need to run them ASAP. 

You don’t want to onboard a new hire and discover weeks later that a concealed part of their record leaves you with no choice but to terminate. It’s critically important to have new hires sign the background check acknowledgment form as quickly as possible so you can get the ball rolling.  

Moving onboarding online ensures employees can sign their background check acknowledgment form before their first day, giving you the time and opportunity to run background checks. BerniePortal hosts our onboarding process in our HRIS, which can track which forms have been completed so our own HR can ensure things are signed in a timely manner.  


Additional Resources

You can stay informed, educated, and up to date with important HR topics using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit
  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop shop for HR industry news
  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance
  • Resource Library—essential guides covering a comprehensive list of HR topics
  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics
  • Community—the HR Party of One Community forum, a place devoted to HR professionals to ask questions, learn more, and help others

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