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Background Checks

Staffing Agency Criminal Background Checks: Dont be fooled!

Staffing agencies that claim to perform background checks on ALL of their employees, or will provide one free of charge, may sound like a very good thing for their customers. However, there are different types of background checks. Before you assume your staffing agency’s procedures meet your own “internal” procedures, there are several important questions that you should ask to protect your company:

How long ago was the criminal background check performed on the employee?

If a staffing agencys policy is to conduct a criminal background check on all newly hired temporary employees, this means there can be a significant period of time between when the check was completed and when the employee starts working for you. The only sure way for you to know the status of a temporary employee’s background is to run a consumer report just prior to commencing work at your site. This is the primary reason Matura Farrington’s background check policy is “client specific.” For our clients who require background checks, we run a consumer report at the time the client has selected the candidate so that we can obtain the most current report.

What type of criminal background check is the staffing agency conducting? There are several types of searches that background check companies can conduct. What many people refer to as a search in some type of national database is really something called the Multi-State/Multi-Jurisdictional Criminal Locator (see details below). This is a very cost effective and quick way to conduct a criminal background search. However, using this system alone is highly inaccurate because it does NOT contain data from all jurisdictions in all 50 states, only 41. Although California is a reporting state, the accuracy and consistency of the information into the system by the reporting CA jurisdictions is not always adequate or timely. Therefore, this report should be used as a vital step in a complete report not as the only step. (For your information, a more complete discussion of this type of report has been provided below by one of our background check vendors, ABSO Inc. (

What is the most complete form of criminal background check?

Although there is no system that can assure 100% accuracy, the most effective system currently available is to complete the following steps:

  • Step One – Social Security number verification: This report identifies an individual by checking over 600 million credit summaries for a matching SSN. Results include address histories, vital to the discovery of jurisdictions for the retrieval of criminal records. This search catches locations where an employee has resided but failed to state them on a background release form.
  • Step Two – Criminal Record History: Using the SSN verification report along with stated current and former residences, a criminal history at the county, state or federal jurisdictional levels are conducted directly with the courthouses.
  • Step Three – Multi-State/Multi-Jurisdiction Criminal Locator Search: This search is a query made using the applicant’s identifiers to a criminal records database containing a variety of criminal records and sex offender information from 41 states. When a potential match is found, it is returned as a jurisdiction to be searched without providing the underlying criminal information. Once the jurisdiction has been determined, it is added to the list of counties identified via the SSN/Address Verification and the background check is processed.


As with all services, there are costs associated with criminal background checks. To have a thorough investigation conducted, the costs will be obviously higher than simply performing the basic Multi-State/Multi-Jurisdiction Criminal Locator Search. Buyers beware if a staffing agency states that a background check is included in the cost of their services, dont assume you are getting the protection your company requires. Know what you are getting by asking a lot of questions about exactly what level of protection you are receiving from your agency.

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