Background checks can be an important part of the hiring process and help reveal a person's criminal history. However, it's important to understand that background checks are not always accurate and may not reveal a person's complete criminal history. In addition, there are factors other than a candidate's criminal background that should be carefully considered before hiring a caregiver for your loved ones. Therefore, background checks should only be one part of your hiring process in addition to other steps you take.
Important Limitations About the Background Checks Offered Through Care.com: Care.com uses third party vendors to offer a variety of background checks that range in comprehensiveness. It's important to know that the criminal record information searched and reported for each type of check varies by state, and sometimes county, due to variations in state laws and state and county criminal record reporting systems. For example, many states prohibit our vendors from reporting records that are more than seven years old. In some states, such as California, Kentucky, New Mexico, and New York, our vendors are prohibited from reporting most arrest or other non-conviction information, regardless of its age, so only criminal convictions are typically reported. And in some states, such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey (and in certain counties in Illinois and Michigan), due to the structure of state and county criminal record reporting systems, our Criminal Background Check vendor does not search the records pertaining to every courthouse in a particular county. In states where all courthouses are not searched, typically only certain felonies (plus certain gross misdemeanors in the case of New Jersey), are revealed. Please note that this is an illustrative, non-comprehensive, list of certain state and county limitations of the background checks offered through Care.com; additional limitations may apply in certain jurisdictions, including on the federal level. For example, Federal law prohibits our vendors from reporting non-conviction information that is more than seven years old. In addition to legal and reporting system limitations of background checks, each check is performed with the consent of the person being checked, using information he or she provides, such as home address, social security number, date of birth, and name. If a candidate provides incorrect information, the check might be run with inaccurate identifying data, which can impact the validity of the criminal check. Finally, criminal records are not always reported accurately or promptly, and human and electronic error can result in inaccurate or incomplete reporting. Consequently, even the most comprehensive background check offered may not disclose the existence of all criminal records in all jurisdictions.
Therefore, while background checks can be helpful and uncover potential red flags, they are not always accurate and no background check should be relied upon to determine a member's complete criminal history or suitability as a caregiver. We strongly recommend that a background check only be used as one part of a candidate selection and hiring process. A background check is not a substitute for conducting thorough in-person interviews, reference checks, online and social media searches, obtaining copies of the candidate's identification documents, and conducting ongoing monitoring of any individual you hire.
Please read below for additional information on the various background checks offered through Care.com to help you chose the background check option that's best for you.
The Preliminary Check is an automated online search and should only be used as an initial screening tool to help narrow your list of candidates. Due to the significant limitations of the Preliminary Check, we strongly recommend you supplement it with a Criminal Records Check, Criminal+ MVR Records Check, or Premier Background Check on your lead candidate to get a better understanding for his or her criminal history. Effective January 21, 2016, Care.com no longer facilitates requests for new Preliminary Checks, and caregivers may only share previously-run Preliminary Check results for a period of one year from the date the check was originally run. Preliminary Checks include the following:
- Social Security Number Trace - The Social Security Number Trace is a search of credit bureau and public records databases to determine what name(s) and addresses are associated with the use of a particular Social Security number. This is not a check of the Social Security Administration's databases. This check is used to help researchers determine the jurisdictions and names under which criminal records should be searched, but it does not provide the purchaser of the background check with a list of names or locations where the individual has lived. If a social security number comes back as unverified (i.e., our vendor was unable to trace it to the name or other identifying information the member provided), it raises concerns as to whether the remainder of the check is being run with accurate information.
- Multi-Jurisdictional Database Search - Multi-Jurisdictional Database Search (sometimes referred to as a "National Criminal Database Search" or a "National Criminal File") is an automated search of a commercial database that consists of certain publicly available and purchased criminal records compiled from a variety of state, county and other proprietary sources. For many jurisdictions, no information is included in this database. For jurisdictions in which some criminal data is included, it's typically limited to a subset of criminal convictions (i.e., not arrest information and not all types of convictions). Due to the way this database is compiled and maintained, there are significant gaps in the coverage provided by this search. In addition, the online databases that are used to perform these checks are only updated periodically. While any hits on this database are verified at the source before reporting, the results of these background checks sometimes do not include recent criminal record information.
- Sex Offender Registry Search - The Sex Offender Registry Search is a search of the US Department of Justice Sex Offender Registry, covering all states except Nevada and may reveal information relative to people with histories of sexual crimes, the severity of those offenses, personal defendant identifiers and arrest dates. The level of sex offender information varies from state to state. Therefore, a search of the Sex Offender Registry may not return all sex offender information that exists for a particular individual.
The Criminal Records Check is more comprehensive than the Preliminary Check and includes a review of certain Federal and County courthouse public records, typically covering the counties the candidate is believed to have lived in the last 7 years based on the Social Security Number Trace. These records are searched via electronic access to specific courthouses and, in some cases, by a network of court-runners located in individual state counties.
The Criminal Records Check includes everything from the Preliminary Check described above, plus:
Federal Courthouse Records Search - The Federal Courthouse Records search is a database search of the criminal records of the specific U.S. district court(s) covering the region where a candidate is believed to have resided over the last seven years, for convictions (and, where state law allows, arrests) of federal crimes (e.g., money laundering, drug trafficking, kidnapping, counterfeiting, racketeering and crimes committed across state lines, etc.) that have occurred in the last seven years. As with all searches, the results are subject to state and federal limitations on criminal reporting of arrests and other non-convictions.
County Criminal Records Search - The County Criminal Records search is a search of the criminal records of some or all county courts for the county or counties in which the candidate is believed to have resided over the last seven years. It's important to know that the criminal record information searched and reported for this search varies by state, and sometimes county, due to variations in state laws and state and county criminal record reporting systems. For example, many states prohibit our vendor from reporting records that are more than seven years old. In some states, such as California, Kentucky, New Mexico, and New York, our vendor is prohibited from reporting most arrest or other non-conviction information, so only criminal convictions are typically reported. And in some states, such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey (and in certain counties in Illinois and Michigan), our vendor does not search the records pertaining to every county courthouse in a particular county. In those jurisdictions, typically only certain felonies (plus certain gross misdemeanors in the case of New Jersey), are revealed. This is an illustrative, non-comprehensive, list of certain limitations of this check; additional limitations may apply in certain jurisdictions, including on the federal level. For example, Federal law prohibits our vendors from reporting non-conviction information that is more than seven years old.
State Criminal Records Search (New York Only) - Due to New York State's criminal record reporting system, a Criminal Records Check performed on New York residents may consist of a State-wide Criminal Records search of records at the county level instead of an individual County Criminal Records search. This search is designed to return felony and misdemeanor convictions at the county level in New York State during the prior seven years.
The Motor Vehicle Record Check is a check of the driving record of a candidate for the state where the license being checked was issued. While this check typically does not include criminal records, it can provide additional information about a candidate's history of behavior and judgment. The Motor Vehicle Check is not available in Washington or Pennsylvania.
Motor Vehicle Record Check - The MVR check will typically report the following information, for the state where the license being checked was issued: status of the operator's driving privileges, restrictions, expiration date, license type and class, endorsements, suspensions or revocations, violations, accidents, and DUI's. Typically, violations remain on the MVR report for three years, although convictions for serious offenses may be reported for five years or more, depending on the state. If a candidate has had an incident while being licensed by another state, it will not appear in the report unless the state where the license was issued has a reciprocity agreement with the other state for that type of motor vehicle citation.
The Criminal+ MVR Records Check combines all searches from the Criminal Records Check and the Motor Vehicle Records Check.
The Premier Background Check is the most comprehensive background check offering available through Care.com. This check is performed by PFC Information Services ("PFC"). Unlike the Criminal Records and the Criminal+ MVR Records Checks, which are largely automated database searches, the Premier Background Check is conducted by PFC's highly trained researchers, including licensed private investigators. In performing these searches, the researchers utilize premium data sources from county courts, state law enforcement agencies and statewide administrative offices of the courts. They also work with a network of experienced courthouse research specialists who in some instances manually search the court records. PFC's reports are hand prepared and include explicit information regarding where information was searched, what period of time was covered, and what information was found. Subject to state law restrictions on what a consumer reporting agency can report, PFC reports all criminal activity it uncovers in its search.
The Premier Background Check includes everything from the Criminal and Criminal + MVR Records Check, though in many instances it utilizes additional data sources and manual processes and provides additional information, as described below. This check also includes searches not included in the Criminal+ MVR Records Check, also described below:
Social Security Number Trace - The Premier Background Check includes the same Social Security Number Trace as the Criminal Background Check. However, if a Social Security Number Trace comes back as unverified, PFC will inform the family and request the family examine the social security card for the date of issue. (The Social Security Administration changed the manner with which SSN's are issued in July 2011. Therefore, the validity of new Social Security numbers issued after July 2011 cannot be verified.) If a social security number issued before July 2011 comes back as unverified, additional steps may need to be taken to insure that the background check is being conducted using the correct identifying information. In addition, PFC includes in the Premier Background Check report the names and locations lived in during the past 7 years as determined from the Social Security Number Trace; this information is not included in the Criminal or Criminal + MVR Background Check. If this information is inconsistent with information the candidate has told the family, the candidate should be asked to explain the discrepancy as this may be a red flag.
Multi-Jurisdictional Database Search - The Premier Background Check includes the same Multi-Jurisdictional Database Search as the Criminal and Criminal + MVR Background Checks.
National Sex Offender Registry Search - The Premier Background Check includes the same Sex Offender Registry Search as the Criminal and Criminal + MVR Background Checks.
Federal Courthouse Records Search - The Premier Background Check includes the same Federal Courthouse Search as the Criminal and Criminal + MVR Background Checks.
County Criminal Records Search - The Premier County Criminal Records search is a more thorough search of county criminal records than the Criminal Records search or the Criminal Records + MVR search. This search includes a search of the criminal records pertaining to each court for the county or counties the candidate is believed to have resided over the last seven years and often includes both online and manual courthouse research.
State Criminal Records Search (34 states plus the District of Columbia) - For 34 states plus the District of Columbia, the Premier Background Check includes searches of premium online state criminal repositories and statewide court records provided by state law enforcement agencies and/or state administrative offices of the courts. If a candidate is believed to have lived in one of these states in the last seven years, this search can reveal criminal conduct in counties outside the counties the candidate is believed to have lived during that time. The states in which PFC conducts statewide criminal checks include Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. With the exception of New York State, this search is not included in the Criminal Records search or the Criminal Records + MVR search
Motor Vehicle Record Check - The Premier Background Check includes the same Motor Vehicle Record Check as the Criminal Records + MVR Check except that PFC does not offer the check in the States of Alaska, New Hampshire or Pennsylvania.
National Bankruptcy Records Search - A National Bankruptcy Records search seeks to uncover if the candidate has filed for bankruptcy and, if so, whether the bankruptcy was classified as a Chapter 7 or 13. Additional debtors, assets, liabilities, and filing discharge dates are included in this search. This search is not included in the Criminal Records search or the Criminal Records + MVR search.
National Wants & Warrants Search - The National Wants and Warrants search searches for any open, extraditable warrants pertaining to the candidate. This is a nationwide search based upon name, date of birth, and Social Security number. This search may reveal the existence of open warrants in locations where the subject has never lived. Therefore, active warrants may be uncovered that would not have been found otherwise. This search is not included in the Criminal Records search or the Criminal Records + MVR search.
Civil Restraining Orders Search - The Civil Restraining Order search checks for civil restraining orders filed against the candidate or filed by the candidate against another individual. Restraining orders are frequently filed in the context of domestic disputes. Civil restraining orders will be searched in the current address and the permanent address of the candidate. However, restraining orders may be filed against the subject by other parties, such as former employers. Note: it is not always possible to determine the relevance of a restraining order, particularly when the name is common. This search is not included in the Criminal Records search or the Criminal Records + MVR search.
Unlike the Criminal Records Check and the Criminal+ MVR Records Check, the process for requesting a Premier Background Check is offline. If you request a Premier Background Check on a candidate and the candidate accepts your request, a member of our team will contact you to walk you through this simple and straightforward process.
Choosing the right person to care for your loved ones is one of the most important decisions you will make. It requires research and time, like other important decisions, such a buying a home or new car. We believe that the majority of people in the world are honest, good people, but we also believe that tools like background checks that can provide more information, common sense social media and online searches, comprehensive interviews and reference checks and impromptu drop-ins and ongoing observations are the best way make a hiring decision for something as important as care. Used together, they provide a more complete picture of a person and will help you make a more informed decision.