What Is a Fingerprint Background Check?

By Mary Jane Freeman
Police officer, a computer, fingerprints, a man

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You have a lot of information at the tips of your fingers. A fingerprint background check is taken to reveal this information to a potential employer, adoption agency or other party interested in your past. Typically, the background check is done to confirm you don't have a criminal record. After your prints are collected, they are sent off to various criminal databases, such as those of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation and state and local law enforcement agencies.

Access to Results Varies Between Agencies

In addition to providing your fingerprints, you may be asked to disclose information on your own, such as crimes of which you've been convicted and disciplinary action taken against you by previous employers. Once the background check is complete, it is sent to the person or business that requested it, and you might be informed of its contents or simply notified of the decision based on the background results. For instance, the Department of Public Instruction in Wisconsin won't release the results of a fingerprint background check. To see this information, you must request your own background check. In contrast, the Department of Social and Health Services in the state of Washington will give you a copy of your background check if you request it. You can usually correct inaccurate or incomplete information by contacting the agency that provided the background check information, such as the FBI.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.