Myth # 7
The first inclination of the average person is to assume that the nationwide
access to criminal records that they see on TV is available to employers.
The closest thing to the image usually portrayed is the National Crime Information
Center (NCIC) operated by the FBI. This is a law enforcement resource and is
illegal for the civilian sector to have any access to. Further, it does not
contain the sum total of every criminal record in every state and city in the U.S.
There are background checking companies who advertise that they do have a national
check, and in the fine print tell you that they are online with every court that
has made external access to its computer system available. Any check based on that
availability is only a tiny portion of a national search because not that many courthouses (14%)
yet have those facilities.
There are also vendors who have accumulated vast databases of records and say that they
will do a national search. True, they have records from all over the U.S., but
these too are far from complete. However, most importantly, they have a major problem.
The FTC has issued an opinion to
that says that using stored data for employment purposes violates Section 613(a)(2).
No employer should be using stored data firms for employment purposes.
Finally, there are newspaper clipping services that accumulate arrest and conviction
records nationwide, but this does not give you criminal conviction histories.