How Far Do Companies Normally Go Back With Background Checks?

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Criminal Check

How long criminal checks date back vary by state and county. However, most criminal court vendors will perform checks that date back seven to 10 years. Most employers will only search records dating back seven years in counties in which you have lived, worked or studied.

Adverse Public Records

Another common element of a background check is a credit check. On your credit history, numerous public records may appear. These are called "adverse public records" and can include judgments, liens, tax debts, bankruptcies and civil suits. Delinquent payments, collections accounts, Chapter 13 bankruptcies and judgments typically remain on your record for seven years. Other bankruptcies remain for 10 years. Unpaid tax liens can remain on your record indefinitely.

Employment Records

Lastly, background checks typically involve employment verification. For this, the party conducting the background check will either call a company's human resources department directly to seek verification or contact a third-party company that maintains employment records for the firm. Larger firms tend to use third-party companies. While the retention policies vary widely, most third-party companies retain records for seven years after an employee's departure.



About the Author

Jack Busch graduated from University of Iowa in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with honors and has been publishing web content ever since. He has contributed to,, and various other tech websites. He also co-authored "Network Your Computer & Devices Step by Step" (Microsoft Press).