“7 Key Points On How To Run A Criminal Background Check Online” written by Mike Marko
Have you considered running a criminal background check online to evaluate potential tenants?
If you are a property manager in the middle of screening potential tenants for your property, you shouldn’t forget to include running a criminal background check online. This is important since you want to get acquainted with what kind of person you might be accepting as a tenant. Doing this process prevents you from accepting bad tenants who might only destroy your property in the future, or might give you problems during their stay on your property.
There are many steps on doing this process but if you’re not familiar with it, let me help you by sharing the steps in running a criminal background check online.
Steps In Running A Criminal Background Check Online
If your property management process requires a criminal background check there are many things you must follow to make sure you are doing the process legally and fairly for the possible tenants.
Running a criminal background check online on your potential tenants is not easy. But with the right information, you will be able to do it properly. Here are the steps that you should familiarize to perform this process:
1. Tell The Potential Tenant That You Will Conduct A Criminal Background Check
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that a property manager must inform a potential tenant before proceeding in running a background check on the tenant. You should also tell the tenant that the information you will find in the report will be your basis for making a decision to accept or decline the rental application. When doing a criminal background check you will need a separate authorization signed applicant. It is also helpful to describe to the applicant the process on a separate document or paper. In doing this, you should write this information on a blank page and hand it to the applying tenant. Be sure not to include any other information on that page and it should be a separate page from the rental application form.
The most important part of the process is to get a written permission from the tenant that you want to complete a criminal background check.
2. Consult State Laws
It is possible that you are running a background check on your potential tenant because you want to use this as a basis for deciding whether to accept or deny a tenant’s rental application. But in doing this, you should first consult some specific laws in your state. States usually provide a limit on what information can be available and be used by the public.
The FCRA permits reports to accumulate information as far back as 7 years. However, some states do not tolerate tenants to be denied on their rental application if the arrests did not result in a conviction. In addition, in some few states, criminal records older than 7 years are not allowed to be revealed in a background check.
There are some instances where some states do not permit the use of arrest records when making hiring decisions. Wherever state you are in, it’s important to know the specific laws that are running on your state has regarding the processes involved in running a background check.
Any information that you obtain when running the criminal background check needs to be kept confidential between you and the applicant.
3. Look For Accredited Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs)
A consumer report may contain information about a person’s credit characteristics, rental history, or criminal history. Consumer reports are prepared by a CRA and are covered by the FCRA.
The Fair Credit Report Act regulates who is allowed to see a person’s consumer report and who can gather that information. A valid reason is needed before a certain person can be given access to a person’s credit report. A CRA is a company that you can rely on to have an access to different databases. Their job is to gather information for background reports.
You can visit the website of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners to look for CRAs. This organization certifies the agencies and they are the ones who set the code of conduct which should be followed by all of the members.
Once you are on the website, look for firms by company name, state, or zip code. The search results will give you a list of company websites. Check each company’s website by clicking on it and you will see additional information about the services it provides.
4. Confirm If The CRA Is Legitimate
Now that you have a list of CRAs in your state, you should confirm if the agency is really legitimate before getting their service. If it is a member of NAPBS, it should be legitimate. If the company that you chose is not accredited, give them a call or email them and ask the following:
- Do they have a business license, and can they provide you with references?
- Do the follow the FCRA regulations?
- Is the company insured?
If the company has a “no” answer to any of the above questions, try hiring another CRA no matter how good is the company’s offer to you.
5. Hire The CRA
After choosing an agency that will conduct the background check for you, start the process by letting them know that you followed the proper procedures. You must certify that you followed the FCRA regulation by telling the applying tenant that you will run a background check on that person. Make sure that you have the written permission from that person that grants you to perform the background check.
It is also a must that you certify not to break any discrimination laws after seeing the information in the person’s consumer report.
6. Ask For A Consumer Report
A consumer report will reveal information about a person’s criminal records, employment history, and credit history. However, based on the federal law, CRAs will not disclose civil lawsuits, civil judgments, arrests, accounts out for collection, or paid tax liens if they occurred more than 7 years ago. It is also possible that any bankruptcies will not be revealed if it happened over 10 years ago.
7. Come Up With A Decision
The consumer report contains information that you can use to tell if an applying tenant should be accepted or denied on his/her rental application. If you decided to deny the applying tenant based on the information on the consumer report, one of the FCRA regulations states that you should tell the applying tenant of this decision. They are allowed to challenge the information, and if they did, these are the actions that you must do:
- Inform the person that the report contains negative information.
- Inform the person which agency you used to prepare the report.
- Give them a copy of the “Summary of Your Right under FCRA,” which was handed to you by the CRA that you hired.
- Give the applying tenant a chance to rebut the information in the report. The rebuttal can be by a letter outlining the reason why the background check is wrong.
Final Thoughts About How To Run A Criminal Background Check Online
As a property manager, you should consider adding criminal checks to your background check process. At the same time, you should be careful in carrying out a criminal background check online. You should make sure that you abide by the FCRA regulations in performing a criminal background check on your applying tenants.
I expect that this article gave you further insight into how to run a criminal background check online. Feel free to add your thoughts and comments below.
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