What Is the Difference in a Background Check & a Criminal Background Check?

Criminal background checks cover a person's criminal conviction history alone. Background checks include criminal records and a long list of other records that can be dug up with a person's authorization, according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer organization.

Criminal Checks

A record of someone's criminal convictions typically can be found at a local courthouse. In some localities, arrest records will remain in a person's criminal background for seven years.

Background Checks

Along with criminal records, background checks focus on credit histories; financial records, including bankruptcy; traffic violations; civil suits; and judgments.

Read More: How Far Back Do Background Checks Go?

Who Checks

Police and government attorneys primarily run criminal background checks, but they also can conduct background checks. Private employers run background checks on prospective employees. The federal government, as well as state and local government agencies, do the same with job applicants.

Limits on Checks

There are limitations for access to education, medical and military records, according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. A person's education transcripts, recommendations and discipline records are confidential. Military records can be released under limited circumstances, and there are few cases in which medical records can be released.

Social Networking Checks

Some employers may look into social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace to check on job applicants and current employees, according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

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