If you are looking to conduct background checks in Alabama, but haven’t ever done so before, it’s a lot simpler and more straightforward than most expect.
Below we cover the ins and outs of running background checks in Alabama, how easy the process can go, how much it costs, and a handful of other details you’ll want to be aware of before you start this process.
Let’s get right into it!
Alabama Background Check Info You Need to Know
Alabama (like every other state and territory in the United States) abides by all federal protections as far as background checks are concerned. This includes both the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
At the same time, though, Alabama does not have any extra state protections in place to hide or secure criminal record information.
Other states in the union do prohibit employers, landlords, and others from running background checks from certain pieces of information (including information regarding arrest records, convictions, and records that have been sealed or later expunged).
Alabama does not have those laws in place.
Employers and other organizations running background checks will have almost completely and unfettered access to an applicant’s record – provided they abide by the federal laws and statutes we mentioned above.
Can Anyone Look Up Someone’s Background in Alabama?
Alabama allows for a lot of public information to be accessible by anyone and everyone (living in the state of Alabama or anywhere else, for that matter) – though some records remain sealed away and unavailable.
For example, anyone looking to dig up Alabama:
- Arrest or warrant records
- Criminal and court records
- Marriage and divorce records
- Bankruptcy and lien records
- Civil judgment and lawsuit records
And other similar details would have no trouble whatsoever digging up on pretty much anyone and everyone, provided they had a first and last name and date of birth that could be looked up.
Credit information, however, and more detailed information regarding convictions and the like will require more identifying data (sometimes even a Social Security number).
That kind of information is only going to be available to those that are provided permission to use that kind of personally-identifying information. Using someone’s Social Security number to look up their background without their permission, for example, would be a crime in Alabama.
What Type of Info Shows Up on an Alabama Background Check?
As highlighted above, a lot of information shows up on your traditional Alabama background check, including information like:
- Whether or not an individual has been arrested, what they have been arrested for, and whether or not they were convicted
- Small Claims Court information, including civil judgments for and against
- Financial information regarding any bankruptcy filings, any liens, and any property that was purchased
- Police record information and jail/inmate record information
As well as information regarding birth records, marriage records, and divorce records (where applicable).
Alabama also allows individuals to search for death records, though they do not provide death certificates to any unauthorized individuals.
Why Are Employers Running Background Checks in Alabama?
There are a bunch of different reasons that employers may be interested in running background checks in Alabama.
For starters, it’s never a bad idea to have as much information as possible about potential future employees – regardless of the kind of position these individuals are going to enjoy working at your company.
Obviously, some positions require more detailed and in-depth background checks and others won’t require anything more than a cursory look. But it’s becoming more and more commonplace for individual employers to do at least a surface-level check to better understand the kind of person they are thinking about hiring.
Employers also like to use background checks to confirm that the people they are thinking about hiring to more important, more authoritative, and leadership roles at their companies and organizations are good fits for the long haul.
The last thing any business wants to do is turn over the keys to their operation to someone that they may not be able to completely trust.
And while an individual’s background is not a crystal ball to see what their future holds, it is a predictor of what is most likely to happen moving forward (good or bad).
Confirm Honesty and Integrity
Someone with a long and illustrious history of doing the right thing is likely to continue to do so going forward.
This is not to suggest that those with a couple of spots on their background check cannot be trusted going forward, though a pattern of that kind of behavior would definitely raise some eyebrows.
It’s just nice to see a long, established track record of responsibility, honesty, and integrity rather than making critical decisions regarding employment off of “gut feelings”.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Reach?
Alabama background checks are going to be conducted through the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center and are called “Alabama Background Checks” or ABCs by the authorities.
ABCs provide information regarding felony and misdemeanor arrest records, any and all charges as well as convictions, and court records (including pending court cases) that stretch back seven years.
Any information beyond seven years (from today) is next to impossible to retrieve through the ABC system.
How Do I Run an Alabama Background Check?
If you’d like to run a background check in Alabama, you’ll want to contact the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (ACJIC) directly.
You can do that by calling 1-866-740-4762 during the week (Monday through Friday), though you can also visit the online background check portion of the Alabama government website at www.background.alabama.gov.
From there you’ll be directed through the ABC search process, a step-by-step process that should only take you about three or four minutes to run through from start to finish.
You’ll be provided with all information and all records within 5 to 10 days after your application has been received, though some record searches conducted online are going to be produced almost instantly.
Can Third-Party Background Check Companies Be Trusted?
There are third-party background check companies that offer Alabama background check services, and some of them are legitimate (though some of them should be avoided at all costs).
The kinds of third-party services or websites that offer you a “service-level” look at Alabama records are usually the worst offenders.
These are the kinds of websites that only give you a very cursory look at the information you are after, and very often have inaccuracies or show you the information of individuals that you weren’t even researching in the first place.
Legitimate third-party background check companies, though, are really only going to speed up the logistical process for you.
These background check companies rarely have access to any information that you wouldn’t have been able to receive with your own research. They just streamline the process a little bit, not only checking Alabama records but also checking national records as well.
It’s not uncommon for these services (legitimate ones) to run checks through the FBI, the NSOPW, and the CNS State Commission of Alabama, too.
Only you’ll know whether or not those kinds of services are well worth taking advantage of for their time savings or if you are better off doing the heavy lifting on your own.
How Long Does It Take to Run an Alabama Background Check?
The actual Alabama Background Check (ABC) process takes about 3 to 4 minutes from start to finish, even if you haven’t ever gone through this process before.
The paperwork to fill out and sending can be printed from the Alabama government website we mentioned above, though you can also knock this out online to get results (usually) a little faster.
If you do have to reach out via mail or telephone to run a background check in Alabama expect it to take 10 to 15 days to get your information. Most online background checks are a little faster though there may be delays that have you waiting that long (if not longer).
How Much Do Background Checks in Alabama Cost?
Purchasing background checks directly from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center is going to set you back a $25 fee, and you also have to provide your own fingerprint card just to be approved to run background checks through the system in the first place.
From there, you’ll have to pay another $15 per background check – and you’ll have to spend $95 a year to re-register each and every single year with the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center.
Those looking to do fingerprint-based background checks are going to need to request that these kinds of ABCs through the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.
Information here is almost always tied to criminal arrest information (as well as details like criminal convictions and sex offender registration), and that’s going to set you back a $95 annual fee.
Businesses with fewer than 250 employees are going to pay $14.99 per background check submitted through this service. Those businesses with 250 or more employees will pay $11.99.
Government and nonprofit organizations looking to run background checks (fingerprint background checks, anyway) will pay $12.50 per check.
It also takes anywhere between 10 and 15 days for the reports to be returned.
Are There Free Options?
There are some free options available online that promise to provide you with detailed information about individuals living or working in Alabama, but most of these free services are hit and miss.
You will very rarely get the kind of information and data from these free services that you would have gotten paying a bit of extra money to the ACJIC.
In most circumstances, it’s always better to pony up a little bit of extra money to run the background checks through the official channels rather than going with free operations.
Are There Background Checks for Firearms in Alabama?
Alabama (like every other state in the US) has to abide by the federal rules and regulations regarding firearms sold from Federal Firearm License (FFL) dealers.
Individuals purchasing a firearm from an FFL are going to have a federal background check conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
This involves filling out a Form 4473, running an individual’s background to the FBI instant check service, and then alerting the dealer to either proceed forward with the sale or to stop it based on something found in the check or a delay.
Private sales in Alabama do not have to adhere to this background check process. The government of Alabama recognizes the individual right to keep and bear arms (the Second Amendment) and is an “open carry” state.
Only those that wish to carry concealed weapons have to apply for a pistol permit because of this designation.
Are Alabama Criminal Records Easily Checked?
It’s relatively easy to check criminal records in Alabama, provided you are willing to spend the money necessary to do so through the ACIJC.
As long as business owners or individuals pay the upfront fee, the annual fee and the cost of ABC applications in Alabama criminal records are ready simple, and straightforward to check, review, and confirm.
What About Alabama Driving Records?
Driving records in Alabama can also be secured relatively easily.
Records can be requested from the Alabama Department of Public Safety by sending a request letter to the Driver’s License Division in Montgomery, Alabama.
Applications can also be conducted online or at any Alabama Motor Vehicle Registration facility.
Depending on how you apply for these records you’ll have to spend either $5.75 or $15.
Can I Search Alabama Sex Offender Records?
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency makes it really easy (and free) to search the sex offender records in the state at your leisure.
Just visit the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency website (www.ALEA.gov) and navigate to the record search section of the site.
There you will be able to look at detailed breakdowns and information of the more than 16,000 registered sex offenders currently on record in the state.
Some offenders will have their records hidden from search, however – particularly those that were adjudicated as juveniles, have “out-of-state”, or have had their records sealed for one reason or another.
How Do I Get Credit History During a Background Check?
To check the credit history of any individual in Alabama (or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter) you’ll first have to be given permission to do this check and then given the Social Security number of that individual.
Anyone caught using Social Security number information or running background checks without permission are subject to significant fines and criminal penalties.
There are a variety of different sites, services, and organizations that allow businesses and individuals to run credit checks and credit history background checks in Alabama. This includes the major credit bureau organizations that establish credit history and credit scores themselves.
Other services (including some financial institutions) are also able to conduct these kinds of personal, sensitive, and privileged checks. These are not the kinds of checks you’ll want to trust to free services, especially when they request the Social Security number (and other sensitive information) of individuals, not yourself.
Are There Rules I Have to Follow to Run Background Checks in Alabama?
Like we talked about earlier, Alabama is a state with very few restrictions, very few obstacles, and very few hurdles in the way of individuals or organizations that are looking to run background checks in the state.
This state does follow all federal rules, regulations, laws, and mandates regarding personal privacy information, including information protected by both the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Outside of that, though, there are very few pieces of information you’ll have a difficult time getting a hold of – aside from the information that you need personal permission from the individual you’re looking to run a background check on, anyway.
What If I Uncover Incorrect Data on a Background Check?
There are a couple of things you can do should you discover incorrect information on a background check in Alabama.
For starters, you’ll want to try and confirm that the information in question is in fact incorrect, to begin with.
This involves investigating the information with at least one other source. You’ll want to double verify that the error is for sure and error, but you also want to make sure that the error isn’t proliferating across a variety of other background source sites or platforms.
Secondly, you’ll want to alert the individual with the identity that you are verifying about the inconsistencies or the inaccuracies.
This will give the individual an opportunity to contact any necessary reporting agencies to get the information fixed, but it also gives them an opportunity to “clear the air” with the individual or organization running the background check as well.
Finally, if you are running a backup check on your cell and find inaccuracies or inconsistencies it’s not a bad idea to reach out to the platforms with this information and see what the next step is to remedy the problem as quickly as possible.
At the end of the day, running background checks in Alabama (for a variety of different reasons) is generally a headache-free experience.
There are almost always going to be a handful of expenses that need to be paid to get the most relevant, accurate, and up-to-date information possible – and some of the services are more expensive in Alabama than in other states – but the barriers to getting this data are very low.
Outside of federal rules and restrictions, employers and individuals looking to get more complete information generally will have a very easy time doing so.