Requesting a background check can be tricky, considering how each state has different processes involved. Connecticut is no different. Here’s everything you need to know about getting a Connecticut background check.
Background Check Laws In Connecticut
When it comes to doing a background check in Connecticut, here are three laws that you must be aware of:
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
- State Laws
- “Ban-The-Box” Law
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, was put in place by the federal government. It works by monitoring and protecting job candidates as well as employers by setting a standard for hiring practices and the use of background checks.
Two state laws are relevant to background checks in Connecticut, namely, Conn. Gen. Stat.31-51i(h)(2) and Public Act No. 11-223:
- Conn. Gen. Stat.31-51i(h)(2) states that if a consumer reporting agency (the agency providing the background check service) provides a report that includes a person’s criminal record information, they must also give that person with a written notice and a copy of the same report.
- Public Act No. 11-223 states that a credit report cannot be used in making employment decisions. There are exceptions to this rule if the employer is a financial institution. Additionally, the exception also applies if the employer has a valid reason to believe the employee is engaged in illegal activities or if the report is significantly relevant to the role.
A “Ban-The-Box” law is one that stops employers from inquiring about a person’s criminal history during their initial job application. That law exists for Connecticut as well.
In Connecticut, that means employers cannot ask candidates about criminal history on the job application form.
What Shows Up On A Background Check In Connecticut
The exact results of a Connecticut background check will depend on what criteria you request, as well as the service provider that you use.
For example, when a potential employer requests a background check, the details they ask to be included will only be those relevant to the job. That may include:
- Employment history
- Education history
- Personal history
- Criminal record
- Credit history
- Motor vehicle and license records
In the case of a criminal record check, the report may show additional details, which include:
- Types of offenses
- Where those offenses took place
- Case numbers and details
- Rulings or sentences on those cases
Bear in mind that some background checks are performed for individual purposes, such as performing a criminal record check or credit history. However, some consumer reporting agencies may provide you with comprehensive background check reports covering several or all of the categories mentioned above.
Employers may prioritize different background checks depending on the job that the applicant is pursuing. For example:
- A motor vehicle and license check for jobs that involve driving a company vehicle
- A credit history check for jobs that involve handling cash or finances
- Education and employment history checks to verify a candidate’s credentials
How Far Back Do Background Checks Go In Connecticut?
In Connecticut, background checks (for credit history, driving records, and arrest records) can go as far back as 7 years. However, there are some notable exceptions.
Firstly, there is no time limit for conviction records. So, if the individual has been convicted of a crime, that information can appear in a background check regardless of when it happened.
Jobs Paying $75,000 Or More
Second, suppose the individual is applying for a job that pays $75,000 or more. If that’s the case, then any and all criminal records can be included in that background check report.
Shorter or Longer Timeframes
Still, it’s important to note that even though the maximum time frame is 7 years for certain kinds of background checks, some employers may only choose to do a background check covering a shorter or longer period.
For example, an employer may only request a background check of 5 years, even though they could request one covering a 7-year history. If the employer is concerned about conviction records, they may extend their check to as far back as 10 years instead.
How Long Does A Background Check Take In Connecticut?
A background check in Connecticut will take an average of 10 days.
Bear in mind that this timeframe is only an average. The exact duration depends on the service provider or agency you’re working with.
Some private background check service providers claim they can provide a report in 1-3 days. Other agencies commit to 5 to 10, or up to 14 business days.
What Affects The Time It Takes For A Background Check in Connecticut?
There are several factors that can affect how long it takes to perform a background check in CT. Some of those factors are unique to the precise types of checks that might be included.
Here are a few examples:
- The information used to perform the check: In some cases, a background check that’s performed using a person’s fingerprint will take longer than one using their name and date of birth. Of course, the trade-off is that using a fingerprint reduces any mixups, as some people with similar names may get their records mixed up.
- Inaccurate information provided: The background check process can be delayed if incorrect information is used to initiate the check. That might include spelling mistakes in names, inaccurate birth dates, and so on.
- Slow-moving sources: Verifying employment and education histories can also be delayed if those organizations are slow to respond and provide feedback for the background check.
- Inter-state or international challenges: Despite being in Connecticut, a person’s history may span across several states or countries. Including these in the background check could delay the entire process of collecting information.
If time is of the essence, it would be a good idea to compare service providers and find one that fits both your budget and time frame.
How Long Does A Background Check Take For A Gun In Connecticut?
A background check for a gun in Connecticut may take up to 90 days in total.
In Connecticut, you cannot buy or receive a gun without a Handgun Eligibility Certificate or a Long Gun Eligibility Certificate (for firearms like rifles and shotguns). Getting that certificate involves a record check with the FBI (which takes about 60 days), while the additional time is for the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection to evaluate whether or not you should receive the eligibility certificate.
There are some factors that might take away your eligibility for the certificate. Among others, they include:
- Being under the age of 21
- Have been convicted of a felony or of specific violent or intimidating misdemeanors
- Have been convicted of serious juvenile offenses
- Failed to complete an approved firearm safety course
- Having been confined to a mental hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities in the past 60 months
- Is subject to a restraining or order issued by a court in a case involving the use or threat of physical force against another person
- Being an undocumented person living illegally in the United States
Once you’ve cleared the background check and receive your certificate, it will remain valid for five years
How To Get A Background Check In Connecticut
There are several ways you can get a background check in Connecticut, depending on what information you would like to receive. Typically, you have public and private options for obtaining background checks.
For example, you can request a criminal background check by approaching the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
However, you may also expand your search to the national level as well. Employers involved in healthcare may want to contact the Office of the Inspector General US Department of Health; Human Services to do so. That department will check for individuals excluded from working for federally-funded healthcare programs.
Alternatively, you also have the option of requesting an FBI Criminal Background Check which requires the individual’s fingerprint. Bear in mind that FBI checks can take a long time, up to 60 days in some cases.
If you have the budget for it, you may also get a background check done through private screening firms. Sometimes referred to as ‘consumer reporting agencies,’ these firms will provide you with comprehensive background check reports based on whatever information you have requested on the individual.
For example, an employer may request all of the criminal background checks mentioned above, as well as verification of their employment and education credentials.
These screening firms will draw on public and private sources to compile the information you have requested and present it to you in a consolidated report.
Pros and Cons of using Public vs. Private Options
When performing a background check in Connecticut, you can get the information you need through public sources (like government offices) or private options (like private screening firms).
Both of them come with their fair share of benefits and drawbacks, so choosing either one will depend on your personal situation.
For example, obtaining records yourself through public channels will probably involve a lower cost. However, you would be doing all of the legwork yourself when filling up forms and liaising with those government institutions.
Using a private screening firm will make things much more convenient. They have specialized employees who can get the job done much more efficiently. However, that convenience will come at a higher cost.
Depending on your budget and the urgency to obtain the background check, you may find either option better than the other.
How To Get A Criminal Background Check In Connecticut
Suppose you want to get a criminal background check in Connecticut. In that case, you’ll need to contact the State Police Bureau of Identification. They provide Criminal History Record Checks and Fingerprinting services.
To submit a request for a criminal background check, you’ll need to fill up the DPS-0846-C form (which also displays the up-to-date costs) and submit it through US Mail.
The charges are as follows:
- 36 to search for the existence of a criminal record based on name and date of birth. This does not include the record itself but only to determine if one exists.
- $75 for a Criminal Conviction history record based on name and date of birth, if one exists.
- $75 for a Criminal Conviction history record based on fingerprints. Fingerprinting must be done at a Connecticut State Police location at the cost of $15.00.
Please note that these charges may change over time, so be sure to refer to up-to-date charges displayed on the form. All payments should be made with a check or money order and included with the mail-in request form, payable to “Treasurer-State of CT”.
Alternatively, you could search for a private screening firm that can perform the background check on your behalf. These firms will prepare a consolidated report based on the criteria you provide much more conveniently. However, the charges may be higher than if you were to search for those records yourself.
What Do Job Background Checks Check For In Connecticut?
Job background checks in Connecticut, commonly referred to as ‘pre-employment checks’ or ‘pre-hiring screening’ for job candidates, will include as many details as the employer requested.
Typically, most employers will perform a basic background check that includes validating your identity, as well as your job history and education credentials. Besides that, employers may also include criminal history checks as part of the screening process.
In many cases, employers may request additional details that are relevant to the job that the candidate is applying for. Here are a few examples:
Roles that require driving company vehicles: Delivery or truck driver roles will involve a check on motor vehicle licenses and traffic offenses.
Financial roles or those which involve handling money: employers hiring for these roles will typically request a credit check in addition to the other checks mentioned above.
Job roles involving working with children: Any job role that involves working with children will also include checks on sex offender registries to ensure that the applicant does not pose a danger to those under their care.
Can I Get A Free Background Check In Connecticut?
No, free background checks are not available in Connecticut as there is always a cost involved.
That’s the same whether you perform a background check by requesting information directly through government agencies or through a third-party screening service provider.
However, should you want to minimize the costs involved with performing a background check, it may be more affordable to gather the information yourself. That consists of approaching the correct government agencies and filling up the necessary forms to collect criminal history and conviction records.