Reasons for Background Check Delays

By Linda Woolhether
Background checks must be conducted before employment with some companies and public agencies, and before purchasing a firearm.

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A background check is required as a condition of employment with some federal, state and local government agencies. Daycare centers, departments of education and health care facilities also usually require an applicant to submit to a background check. All persons wishing to purchase or transfer firearms must undergo a comprehensive background check before the transaction. Strict laws govern this process. Delays result when more intensive investigative measures are needed before an approved status can be granted.

Incomplete Information

Forms filled out by applicants, whether those seeking employment or desiring to purchase a firearm, must be completed legibly, and all blanks must be filled in. Inaccurate information, such an incorrect Social Security number, can prolong the process for several days. Carelessness in completing forms is among the major reasons for background check delays. Double-check all information before submitting it.

Similar Names

Many background check delays occur because of duplicate names. Another person may have the same name as you, and may have similar descriptive features such as weight, height, sex or race. Common names such as John Smith or variants on a name's spelling may necessitate further research, resulting in a delay. If your name is Stephen, but you have also used Steven or Steve, you may experience a delay. A woman may have divorced and remarried. In this case, she must list all of the names she has legally used in her lifetime to help prevent misidentification.

Incorrect Addresses

If you have moved several times in the past five years, it may require extensive research to ensure you are the right person being investigated. Most agencies have access to numerous data banks, but the information may be incomplete for many reasons. Persons applying for employment with educational agencies must make certain they provide complete and accurate addresses and contact names. The purchase of a firearm requires that the applicant's driver's license list his current place of residence.

Criminal History

A delay in a background check may indicate that the information provided has matched information maintained by the National Crime Information Center, an interstate identification index. Sometimes the necessary information is not readily available. In the event the information cannot be located, a further review of records is mandatory. Every effort is made to avoid delays, but sometimes they are unavoidable. If you are unsure of what your criminal record may reveal, you may request a copy of your FBI record by contacting the FBI Special Correspondence Unit before filling out an application. If you know you have a history of arrests or convictions, you should obtain in advance certified documentation of the final outcomes of all criminal cases.

About the Author

Linda Woolhether is a retired teacher born in Texas, but now resides in Wyoming. Her career as a reading and writing teacher spanned 20-plus years. She holds a Master of Arts in education in curriculum and instruction and is experienced in various types of writing. She was successful in writing several educational grants while teaching. Completing a novel is presently her goal.

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