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Background screening terms

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613 Notices

Refers to the requirements in the FCRA § 613. Public record information for employment purposes. When a consumer report for employment purposes is provided by a CRA which includes public record information, the CRA must either maintain strict procedures designed to ensure that the information is complete and up to date or provide a notice to the consumer at the time the information is reported. That notice is

referred to as a “613 Notice”.

7 Factors

Refers to the seven types of information listed in the FCRA § 603(d)(1) definition of a Consumer Report. To be a Consumer Report, the report must have a bearing on one or more of the 7 Factors. The 7 Factors are: credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living.


Also referred to as “7 factor information.”

7 Year States

States that restrict reporting of criminal history information, including conviction information, to no farther back than 7 years. How the seven years is measured can be interpreted differently, review state laws and work with outside counsel to consider when to start measuring, i.e.

date of conviction, or something else.



In screening this is typically the residential addresses the individual has used within a specified period of years. Some End Users will also

consider addresses where a person has worked or studied.


The action of applying an End User’s criteria to the results of a specific background screen. Some End Users will request that the consumer reporting agency conduct this process using criteria provided and/or approved by the End User. Other End Users will do it themselves.


Some CRAs also use this term to reference the process of finalizing a specific search.



Adverse Action

Action taken by the End User that could have or potentially could have a negative (i.e. adverse) impact on the Consumer (Subject). A denial of a job or denial of application by a housing provider are examples of adverse action. The adverse impact could be more subtle, such as assignment to a different work shift or position. It can also be a change in terms in a housing rental, such as a higher security deposit. The term

comes from the FCRA and is defined in § 603(k).


Also Known As


Administrative Office of the Courts


Applicant Tracking System


The “Box” is any section in an application asking if the individual has any previous convictions or other criminal history information. Ban the Box regulations require this question be asked later in the selection process. The intent of this is to allow employers to judge applicants based on their qualifications first, before considering criminal history. Ban the Box regulations are highly localized and can be down to the city level

and include many variations of requirements.


Commercial Driver’s License Information System. https://cdlis.dot.gov/ Nationwide database of commercial driving license information to

ensure that a commercial driver has only one license (and not licenses from multiple states).


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ This is a US government entity partially responsible for enforcing

the FCRA, along with the FTC.


The individual who is the subject of the background check. The term comes from the FCRA and is defined in § 603(c). Outside of the FCRA, the

term Subject or Data Subject is sometimes used.

Consumer Report

The term comes from the FCRA and is defined in § 603(d). A report provided by a Consumer Reporting Agency. Reports provided by background screening companies usually are Consumer Reports. The report must have a bearing on one or more of the 7 Factors and meet the use criteria: the report would be used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in

establishing the consumer’s eligibility for

(A)   credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes;

(B)   employment purposes; or

(C)  any other purpose authorized under section 604 1681b].


Consumer Reporting Agency. The term comes from the FCRA and is defined in § 603(f). Employment and tenant screeners act as consumer

reporting agencies when they provide consumer reports for employment, tenant screening, and other purposes.

Credit Report

A consumer report that includes information about an individual's credit history. Most credit reports originate from the three nationwide

credit reporting systems (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion)



Database Search

This is usually a background screen that is being conducted via a repository rather than an originating source. It most often refers to

criminal record data compiled from multiple sources and made searchable for use when compiling a consumer report. These databases do not contain all criminal records in the US and are best described as multi-jurisdictional databases. Also known as NatCrim Search or National Criminal History.


This term is used in multiple ways. It generally describes information being provided and usually refers to information being provided to the Consumer (Subject). A “Consumer Disclosure” is a report or notice provided to the Consumer (Subject). It can also refer to the notice required

by the FCRA to be given to the Consumer (Subject) about the processing of their background check (see section 604 [§ 1681b]).

Disparate Impact

A judicial theory developed in the United States that allows challenges to employment or educational practices that are nondiscriminatory on their face but have a disproportionately negative effect on members of legally protected groups. May also be referred to as adverse impact.


An example is that a blanket “no arrests” policy could have a disparate impact on minorities who have much higher arrest rates in the US.


In the context of the screening industry, disposition refers to the court's final determination of a lawsuit or criminal charge.


A challenge by the Consumer about information in a consumer report or file.


A Diversion or diversion program in the criminal justice system is a form of sentence in which the criminal offender joins a rehabilitation

program, which will help remedy the behavior leading to the original arrest, allow the offender to avoid conviction and, in some jurisdictions, withhold or dismiss (varies by jurisdiction) a criminal record.


Date of Birth


Department of Corrections


Department of Transportation. https://www.transportation.gov/


Denied Persons List. Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce. https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/policy-guidance/lists-of- parties-of-concern/denied-persons- list?utm_source=live&utm_medium=live&utm_term=(not%20provided)&utm_content=undefined&utm_campaign=(not%20set)&gclid=undefi



Driver Privacy Protection Act. Law protecting personal information in driver’s records. https://epic.org/privacy/drivers/

Drug Screening

When used in the background screening environment, this refers to a screen of the individual’s bodily fluids or exhalation to determine the presence of an illegal or legal drug. Typical screening is done via urine, saliva, hair, or breath. Screening can be done for more than illegal drugs, since the use of a legal drug may create risk for the End User, for example alcohol use during driving or narcotic pain drugs in the course

of safety sensitive work.


Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. https://www.eeoc.gov/






Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published guidance for employers fully entitled, “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act”. https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/enforcement-guidance-consideration-arrest-and-conviction-records-employment-decisions



Screening that is conducted in the process of an employment relationship, including recruitment, promotion, continual screening, promotion,

or re-assignment. The term comes from the FCRA and is defined in § 603(h).

End User

The entity who is the final recipient of the background check report. May also be referred to as the customer, employer, or property manage.

The term End User comes from the FCRA.


Estimated Time of Arrival. Refers to the expected delivery of a search or report.


Fraud Abuse Control Information System. This is a trademarked name referring to a health care sanctions list. It is often referred to as a search

type, without the understanding that this is a company’s specific product name. Other companies provide similar lists under a different name. See the definition for Medical Sanctions list.

Fair Chance Hiring

A means of regulating the use of criminal history information as part of the employment process. It may include procedural safeguards and it may regulate when, during the employment process, criminal history information may be considered. See Ban the Box for some overlap in the

application of Fair Chance Hiring


Fair Credit Reporting Act. The primary United States statute governing the use of information obtained from a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) or background screening company. https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/statutes/fair-credit-reporting-act


There are two types numbering schemes referring to FCRA sections; the headings from the FCRA or the US Code numbering schemes. This document uses the headings directly from the FCRA.


FCRA language may also be referred by the headings from the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, e-CFR parts. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi- bin/text-idx?SID=2b1fab8de5438fc52f2a326fc6592874&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title16/16CIsubchapF.tpl


A crime serious enough to usually be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison one or more years.


Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. https://www.finra.org/ Regulates financial industry participants. This is the source of a sanctions

database for the financial industry.



A database operated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It is a required check for regulated drivers who are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), due to a drug and alcohol program violation.



Federal Trade Commission. www.ftc.gov This is the US government entity partially responsible for enforcing the FCRA, along with the CFPB.

Full File Disclosure

Also referred to as Free File Disclosure. A Consumer (Subject) request to a consumer reporting agency for that entity to provide all information

held about that Consumer (Subject). A Full File Disclosure is different than a FACT Act request, in that it is broader. The FACT Act allows an individual to request a copy of the reports a consumer reporting agency holds on them. These reports comprise reports provided to an End




User – essentially giving the Consumer (Subject) the information that was reported about them. The Full File Disclosure includes these reports but also would provide information that had not been reported, such as information held by the CRA but suppressed in the ultimate report to

the End User.


The term is referenced in the FCRA but is not defined in the statute. The furnisher is an entity that provides information to a CRA for inclusion

into a consumer report. Classic examples of furnishers may include credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions. The responsibilities of the furnisher are defined in FCRA § 623.


Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act. https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/privacy-and-security/gramm-leach-bliley-act. Covers rules for

financial institutions on the handling of information. GLBA rules impact searches that come from credit bureaus.

Green Factors

Refers to a legal case, Green vs Missouri Pacific Railroad, and is also referred to in an FTC staff opinion letter and cited in EEOC Guidance. The Green Factors provide a guide to the job-relatedness of any information found in a criminal history report. Information on the report should be evaluated against these 3questions:

1.         What is the nature and gravity of the offense?

2.         How much time has passed since the offense?

3.         What is the nature of the job?

a.          Specific duties of the job

b.          Essential functions of the job

c.          Circumstances of the job (such as level of supervision)

d.          Location of the job

Green Case: https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/523/1290/384589/ https://www.ftc.gov/policy/advisory-




Can be used by a CRA to indicate that a search of criminal or civil records resulted in a record being located.


Information used to identify a Consumer (Subject). (e.g., DOB, SSN, Address, Full Name, Driver’s License)



A type of background screening conducted at set intervals during an individual’s term of service. Also known as Periodic Monitoring.

Inquiry (credit)

Section of a US credit report indicating which entity has accessed a Consumer’s (Subject’s) credit report. The inquiry can be “soft”, meaning it will not be used in credit score calculations, or “hard”, meaning it can be factored into an individual’s credit scores. The FCRA requires CRAs to disclose inquiries to consumers. For employment screening, the inquiry must be listed for 2 years and is considered a ‘soft hit’; for tenant

screening the inquiry must be listed for 1 year.




Investigative Consumer


A background screen involving information obtained through personal interviews. The term comes from the FCRA and is defined in § 603(e).


In California, all background screens are classified as Investigative Consumer Reports.


An administrative area defining what geographic area is covered by a search. Depending on the address history being searched, multiple jurisdictions might need to be searched to cover that address history. For international screening, a country is frequently a single jurisdiction.


A lesser crime than a felony, usually punishable by a fine and/or jail time for up to one year, typically in a local jail.


A type of background screening that involves a continuous review of certain background check elements such as criminal history or driving

status. Also known as Continuous Monitoring.


Motor Vehicle Record. Also referred to as a driver’s history.

Nat Crim

National Criminal History This is usually a background screen that is being conducted via a repository rather than an originating source. It most often refers to criminal record data compiled from multiple sources and made searchable for use when compiling a consumer report. These databases do not contain all criminal records in the US and are best described as multi-jurisdictional databases. Also known as a Database


No File / No


No file or data to report on consumer through court records or database searches.



Information that is obtained by a background screening company but cannot be disclosed to the End User or included in the Consumer Report.


Office of Foreign Assets Control. Publishes a list of individuals and entities who are sanctioned by the US government. The list may be referred

to by End Users as “a Terrorist List”. https://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/offices/Pages/Office-of-Foreign-Assets- Control.aspx


Office of Inspector General. https://oig.hhs.gov/ Publishes a list of individuals and entities who have been sanctioned for activities related to

Department of Health & Human Services.



The source where the information is originally held – the primary source of the information.


Public Access to Court Electronic Records. https://www.pacer.gov/ The source for US Federal civil, criminal, and bankruptcy records.

Permissible Purpose

Refers to the lists of allowable reasons for ordering a consumer report as provided by the FCRA § 604. In the screening industry, this tends to be for employment purpose (§ 604(a)3)(B)), eligibility for a license (§ 604(a)3)(D)), legitimate business need in connection with a business transaction that is initiated by the consumer ((§ 604(a)3)(F)(i)), or in accordance with the written instructions of the consumer to whom it

relates (§ 604(a)(2).


Personally Identifiable Information. Information that can be used to identify a specific Consumer (Subject).





Web or software program used by background screening companies to run the background screening program for the company. The portal may have different functions, such as the gateway for the End User to enter search requests and receive results, the back-end operations

program for the background screening company, and the gateway for vendors to pick up and return orders.

Privacy Notice

/ Privacy Policy

/ Privacy Statement

These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but can have different meanings. A Privacy Notice is an outward facing statement about how an organization collects and processes personal information. It can also be referred to as a Privacy Statement.


A Privacy Policy is sometimes referred to as the outward facing statement of personal information processing. However, policies are ore often internal statements about how an organization is governed or handles a process(es).


Also referred to as a vendor or furnisher. The entity providing background search results. This can be a background screening company acting as a provider (of Consumer Reports) to the End User, or it can be a wholesaler, sub-processor, or supply chain partner providing information to the background screening company responsible for preparing the Consumer Report..


May also be used interchangeably with Researcher. See Researcher definition.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). The program helps motor carriers make more informed hiring decisions by providing electronic access to driver crash and inspection history from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). PSP records are available for motor carriers and commercial drivers. PSP is designed to assist the motor carrier

industry in assessing individual operator crash and serious safety violation history as a pre-employment condition.

Public records

Information from publicly available government records. Public record information may include, for example, information from records

pertaining to an arrest, indictment, conviction, civil judicial action, tax lien, or outstanding judgment. Also referred to as criminal records.


Individual with knowledge of the Consumer (Subject) on a personal or professional level.

Re- Investigation

Research of consumer report information that has been disputed by a Consumer (Subject), as required by the FCRA. The process often includes contacting the source of the information, such as a court, to assess the accuracy and completeness of the disputed information. In some cases the dispute may be initiated by someone other than the Consumer (Subject).


The specific requirements for re-investigation are defined in the FCRA § 611 procedure in case of disputed accuracy.


A result that may be provided in a consumer report based on Federal, State, and local regulations.


Often used to describe an individual who is charged with searching for court records on consumer, by request of CRA. Some background screening companies may also refer to individuals within their organization involved in processing the background screen as Researchers.


May also be used interchangeably with Provider. See Provider definition.


See CRA. The term is defined in the FCRA under § 603(u). A reseller obtains consumer report information from another consumer reporting

agency for resale. For example, a background screening company can be a reseller of credit reports obtained from one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies.




SAM (formerly EPLS)

The System for Award Management (SAM) is a US Federal Government owned and operated free web site that consolidates the capabilities in Central Contractor Registration (CCR)/FedReg, Online Representations and Certifications Applications (ORCA) and the Excluded Parties List

System (EPLS). Future phases of SAM will add the capabilities of other systems used in Federal procurement and awards processes.


Penalty applied by a government body, industry group, or licensing authority against an individual or entity for a violation of standards or law.

A search on sanctions may show possible sanctions, exclusions, debarments, or disciplinary actions. In the screening industry, this most often refers to financial, health care, and government sanctions.


Specially Designated National as defined in OFAC.

Social Trace



Standard Operating Procedures


Sex Offender Registry


Statement of Work


U.S. Social Security Number

SSNV\ Trace

Social Security Number Trace as a Social Trace. This is a background check element or process that is obtained from the credit bureaus or other private databases. Information on an SSN Trace typically includes a list of names, social security numbers, addresses and some employment history associated with the key identifiers of the individual. This may be referred to as credit header data. Note, this is not the same as the

product known as the Consent Based Social Security Number Verification that is conducted with the Social Security Administration.


Vendor engaged by another vendor. This term is often used outside of the United States and is becoming more common in the US.


The person on whom a background check is being conducted. In the FCRA, this person is referred to as the Consumer. Under GDPR, the

person will be referred to as the Data Subject.


Turn Around Time. This usually refers to the time it takes to close an individual search or successfully complete a background check.

Tenant screening

Tenant screening is a process used primarily by residential landlords and property managers to evaluate prospective tenants. The purpose is to

assess the likelihood the potential tenant will fulfill the terms of the lease or rental agreement and will also take great care of the rental property in question.


Usually refers to background screen components where a consumer’s education, employment or professional license confirmation, or

reference check is completed to confirm it meets the job requirements.


In the context of background screening, this is an alternative term for conducting a background check. It is used more frequently outside of the





Violation / Infraction

An offense which may not be a criminal act. The level is seen as below a misdemeanor level. Depending on state law, these are not always classified as crimes and may not be included in the court index (e.g., New York). Generally, these do result in jail time; but may be punishable

by a fine.