SAFETY CENTER

Whether you're gathering candidates, narrowing your list, interviewing top choices or making your final decision, the information below can help.

Background Check Guide
The Background on Background Checks
  • Background checks can be an important part of the hiring process and help reveal a person's criminal history.
  • Care.com uses third party vendors to offer background checks that range in comprehensiveness, from a Motor Vehicle Records Check, to an Investigative Criminal Plus Check. This article provides further details on each background check.
  • It's important to understand that background checks are not always 100% accurate and may not reveal a person's complete criminal history. To learn more see The Limitations of Background Checks.
  • There are additional factors other than a candidate's criminal background that should be carefully considered before hiring a caregiver for your loved ones. To learn about the additional steps you should take, visit our Safety Guide.
What's covered by a Background Check?

Please read below for additional information on the various background checks offered through Care.com to help you choose the background check option that's best for you.

Criminal Records Check

The Criminal Records Check includes a search of various electronic databases, plus searches 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 information the individual provides, plus a 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. Criminal records for the previous 7 years are searched.

The Criminal Records Check includes the following:

  • Social Security Number Trace - The SSN Trace is an address locator search that compares the provided Social Security Number to certain credit and public records data to help identify an individual's address history, alternative names and aliases. This check is used to help our vendor, Sterling Talent Solutions ("Sterling") determine the names and jurisdictions under which criminal records should be searched. All alias names derived from SSN Trace results are included in the criminal record searches listed below. The SSN Trace is not conducted through the Social Security Administration and may not be used as the basis for any employment decision, and it is not confirmation of an individual's identity.

  • Multi-Jurisdictional Database Search - The Multi-Jurisdictional Database Search (sometimes referred to as a "National Criminal Database Search" or a "National Criminal File") consists of a multijurisdictional database search of certain publicly available and non-public purchased records from state, county, and other sources. The information available in the database varies by jurisdiction, and may not cover all counties in a particular state or all criminal record history for a particular individual. The source records are subject to availability, and the results are subject to applicable federal and state reporting restrictions. For some jurisdictions, no information is available at all. For jurisdictions in which some criminal data is included, it may be limited to a subset of criminal convictions (i.e., the database may not include arrest information or all types of convictions). In addition, the frequency with which the records in this database are updated varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Sterling verifies any possible hits in this database against primary source records in the courts of original jurisdiction.

  • Sex Offender Search - The Sex Offender Check is a search of the Federal Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). Reports from this check include sex offender registry data covering 49 states excluding Nevada, and including the District of Columbia and US territories. This search is subject to state limitations, availability and applicable reporting limitations, and may not reflect an individual's entire sex offender history.

  • Federal Courthouse Records Search - The Federal Criminal Records Check is a search of Federal US District Courts via the federal PACER system based on the last 7 years of the subject's address history as derived from SSN Trace results. This check may report records relating to federal crimes (e.g., money laundering, drug trafficking, kidnapping, counterfeiting, racketeering, and crimes committed across state lines). Sterling will report all available criminal history information that can be reported pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act and applicable state laws, which, depending on the jurisdiction, may not include history such as arrests, pending cases, or non-conviction records more than seven years old.

  • County Criminal Records Search - The County Criminal Records search consists of a search of criminal records for each county where the subject is believed to have lived in the past 7 years based on information provided by the individual and returned in the SSN Trace. This search is conducted electronically (where available), and manually if necessary, in these counties. Sterling will report available criminal history information that can be reported pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act and applicable state laws, which, depending on the jurisdiction, may not include non-conviction records more than seven years old. Due to legal restrictions in certain states (such as California, Kentucky, New Mexico, and New York), Sterling is prohibited from reporting most arrest or other non-conviction information, so only criminal convictions are typically reported. The search typically does not include records from Magisterial courts in Pennsylvania or Municipal courts in New Jersey.

  • SPECIAL NOTICE FOR MASSACHUSETTS AND NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Criminal County Search conducted in Massachusetts and New Hampshire reports felonies and misdemeanors only for the Superior Court and a single District Court in the county seat or its equivalent in the named county and no other court in such county. If an individual has criminal records in any other courts in these states, they will NOT be picked up by this check.

    To obtain more information on how to request additional criminal history information in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, please visit the following website:

    Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI): http://www.mass.gov/eopss/crime-prev-personal-sfty/bkgd-check/cori/

    New Hampshire State Police Criminal Records: https://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/nhsp/ssb/crimrecords/

    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.

  • State Criminal Records Search (New York Only) - Due to New York State's criminal 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.

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Motor Vehicle Records Check

The Motor Vehicle Records 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 Records Check is not available in Washington, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

  • Motor Vehicle Records 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, 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 uwhyleavenless the state where the license was issued has a reciprocity agreement with the other state for that type of motor vehicle citation.

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Criminal+ MVR Records Check

The Criminal+ MVR Records Check combines all searches from the Criminal Records Check and the Motor Vehicle Records Check.

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Investigative Criminal Plus Check

The Investigative Criminal Plus Check is the most comprehensive background check offering available through Care.com. This check is performed by PFC Information Services, an Imperative Company, ("PFC"). This investigation is conducted by PFC's highly trained researchers, including licensed private investigators. This investigation includes PFC's benchmark criminal record investigation along with a search of driving record history from the state where your caregiver is licensed and additional searches to identify indicators of potentially red-flag behaviors. There is no single source for all criminal records in the United States. In performing these searches, the researchers utilize information from county courts, state law enforcement agencies, state bureaus of prisons, statewide administrative offices of the courts, federal courts and other sources. In all cases, criminal research is conducted manually, often in-person, by hands-on searches of actual records in courthouses.

The components of the Investigative Criminal Plus check are:

  • Advanced Identity Research - PFC reviews information available in various consumer records databases to corroborate the identity information provided by your Caregiver and to determine any known former names, aliases and the individual's residential address history for the past 10 years. This research does not verify the individual's identity but it does guide PFC's researchers on where to look for possible criminal history information and what name or names to research. If PFC is unable to corroborate the information provided by your Caregiver, then PFC places the investigation on hold and contacts the Caregiver to confirm the information. If the information still cannot be corroborated, PFC will ask the Caregiver to complete a Form SSA-89 which gives signed consent for PFC to verify the name, date of birth and social security number provided against the Social Security Administration's records.

  • Multi-Jurisdictional Database Search - The Investigative Criminal Plus check includes a similar Multi-Jurisdictional Database Search as the Criminal and Criminal + MVR Records Checks. As noted above, these checks are national in scope but the depth of coverage in any particular state or county can vary significantly. Some jurisdictions provide limited or no information for inclusion in the database.

  • Sex Offender Search - This is a national search of the Federal Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). All 50 states are included along with most U.S. territories. The search is subject to various state limitations, availability and applicable reporting limitations and may not capture an individual's entire sex offender history.

  • Federal Courthouse Records Search - The Investigative Criminal Plus Check includes the same Federal Courthouse Search as the Criminal and Criminal + MVR Records Checks. If PFC is unable to determine whether a criminal record belongs to a particular Individual due to the information available in the federal PACER system, PFC will conduct additional research to determine if the federal criminal record information does, in fact, belong. Where this is needed, it may delay the timeline for return of the report.

  • County Criminal Records Search - The Investigative Criminal Plus investigation includes searches for felony and misdemeanor court records in each county where the Caregiver is believed to have lived over the past 10 years, using the information learned through the Advanced Identity Search. Where court records are decentralized, these searches are conducted by-hand and may not include lower-level court records. When a state maintains a single computer network that permits PFC to search all country-level courts at once, this investigation will look for criminal record history in all counties and not only those in which the individual is believed to have lived.

  • State-Level Criminal Records Search - For all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the Investigative Criminal Plus Check includes searches of available state databases that may contain criminal records repositories, warrant information, prison records, and sex offender registries. All information is not available in all states and in some states the available state databases contain very limited additional data. PFC uses the sources it believes to be most thorough. The states in which PFC conducts statewide criminal records checks include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

  • Motor Vehicle Records Check - The Investigative Criminal Plus investigation includes the same Motor Vehicle Records Check as the Criminal + MVR Records Check. Pennsylvania and Washington require additional paperwork. In these states, PFC will coordinate to obtain the necessary paperwork to complete, which may delay the completion of the report.

  • 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. PFC searches the US federal courts bankruptcy filings for the past 10 years.

  • National Wants & Warrants Search - PFC searches the federal database of extraditable arrest warrants that have been reported by local, state, and federal authorities. Many warrants are not reported. 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.

  • Civil Restraining Orders Search - The Civil Restraining Order search checks for civil restraining orders (also called protective orders or stay-away orders) filed by or against the Caregiver in each county where the individual has lived in the past 2 years. 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 identified through the Advanced Identity Research. However, restraining orders may be filed against the subject by other parties, such as former employers. This search may not reveal the entirety of an individual's restraining order history due to various limitations, including inability to accurately determine the individual on the restraining order is the Caregiver, limitations on what restraining order information is made publicly available, or the lack of centralized reporting by lower-level courts of restraining orders to county-level indices.

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.

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Important Limitations of Background Checks

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 100% 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.

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