Checking backgrounds in Illinois became a lot easier on January 1, 1991.
This is when the state legislature decided to pass laws called the Uniform Conviction Information Act in the state, mandating that all criminal history information collected by the Illinois State Police be made available to the public through the Bureau of Identification.
Since then, the Uniform Conviction Information Act database has been modernized and updated considerably – providing people, businesses, and groups in Illinois much easier access to this data than ever before.
At the same time, running Illinois background checks still may not be the most intuitive thing in the world.
Especially if you’ve never done so in the past.
The detailed information below helps to streamline the process as much as possible, shining a light on the kind of information you’ll be able to search for as well as how to go about getting that data, too.
Illinois Background Check Info You Need to Know
Right out of the gate, it’s important to know that there are a number of rules, restrictions, and regulations governing the kind of information you’ll be able to access through the Bureau of Identification in the state of Illinois.
For starters, all background check information is heavily regulated at the federal level by both the Fair Credit Reporting Act as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Every background check conducted in Illinois needs to adhere to those federal rules and regulations, without exception.
On top of that, Illinois also has a number of state-level laws, rules, and regulations in place that determine and dictate the kind of information individuals and organizations will be able to access as well.
For example, in 2014 the state passed its own version of the Ban the Box legislation that was started by Hawaii a number of years earlier.
This limits the amount of information employers have access to when digging up a potential applicant’s criminal record, though it only applies to businesses in Illinois that employed 15 people or more.
Another law regulating how these kinds of background checks are to be conducted includes the Illinois Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act – mandating that background checks can only be started with the permission of a job applicant and only after they have been offered a conditional employment opportunity.
Any violations of these rules and regulations are being reported by the Illinois Department of Labor, the same organization that handles the investigations of these violations.
Can Anyone Look Up Someone’s Background in Illinois?
There are no hard restrictions on the kind of people that can research someone’s background in Illinois, aside from the rules and regulations outlined by the federal laws and state laws we mentioned just a moment ago.
Every citizen, every employer, and every organization (public as well as private) has the right and the opportunity to search the background of anyone else – and sometimes only after they get permission – in the state of Illinois.
Not only that, but citizens can also request information directly from Illinois governmental agencies and federal agencies as well.
This can be done through the Freedom of Information Act, given federal and local businesses five business days to respond to all FOIA requests.
What Type of Info Shows Up on an Illinois Background Check?
Quite a bit of information is available through Illinois background checks, including (but not limited to):
- Past employment history – Thorough background checks in the state of Illinois are going to provide information regarding past employment history for individual applicants.
- Criminal history – Background checks in the state of Illinois are definitely going to provide information regarding their criminal past, including any arrest records, charging records, and conviction records
- Education history – Most background checks include at least a cursory overview of an individual’s educational history, though it may not stretch any further back than their collegiate experience (if any)
- Identity verification – All background checks provide further identity verification for the individual that is being researched in the first place
Why Are Employers Running Background Checks in Illinois?
According to information published by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, between 73% and 96% of all employers in the United States conduct at least a cursory level background check before they bring new employees on board.
On top of that, 30% of employers say that they use other tools and methods to screen applicants, 67% say that they screen even their part-time employees, and 80% report that they have a detailed and document screening and background check process they follow to the letter.
Why are employers running background checks in Illinois (and everywhere else, for that matter)?
For a couple of reasons, including, but not limited to:
- Keep the workplace and fellow employees safe
- Avoid any potential hiring liability that might be brought about by running on the wrong person
- Improve the overall new higher-quality of applicants and new employees
- Reduce loss, not only through physical theft but also through decreased legal liability
- Avoid negative publicity that could have been brought about by hiring someone with a complicated criminal past
At the end of the day, comprehensive and detailed background checks conducted in Illinois simply provide employers with a bit of peace of mind they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Reach?
In the state of Illinois, there are absolutely no time restrictions whatsoever on how far back a background check can go.
Illinois background checks can go back indefinitely, searching 10 years, 15 years, 20 years or more to find any potential criminal convictions in someone’s past.
At the same time, before any negative criminal information can be used to disqualify a potential applicant from a position that information needs to be proven to be relevant to the position – and it’s hard to imagine decade-old convictions having that kind of relevancy.
Background checks adhering to the Federal Credit Reporting Act are only going to stretch back seven years.
The only exception to this rule is applicants that are going to be paid a salary higher than $75,000 a year. In those situations, the seven-year time limit does not apply.
How Do I Run an Illinois Background Check?
Individuals and organizations looking to run criminal background checks are going to want to visit the Illinois State Police Bureau of Investigation website (www.isp.illinois.gov/BureauOfIdentification).
This is where state-level background checks are going to be conducted, with detailed reporting provided by the state police as soon as all fees are paid and all pertinent information has been provided.
Individuals and organizations looking to conduct background checks in the state of Illinois will have the opportunity to search based on “name” or “fingerprints”.
Obviously, name-based searches are a little faster and a little bit easier to conduct – running through the Criminal History Response Process. Registration with this platform (the CHRP) is simple and straightforward and can be handled online.
Fingerprint-based searches, however, do require a little bit more involvement.
To begin with, you’ll need approved fingerprint cards (available from any Illinois State Police barracks) but you’ll also need the approval and cooperation of the individual applicants you are looking to run a fingerprint check on as well.
They will have to sign a consent form that allows for these kinds of background checks to move forward.
Can Third-Party Background Check Companies Be Trusted?
A lot of third-party background check companies exist to move the process along a little faster, though you’ll need to do your research and due diligence before you decide to move forward with any of them.
Some third-party background check companies are incredibly thorough, helping to streamline everything while handling all the “heavy lifting” of actually conducting the background checks themselves.
These organizations go to great lengths together as much information as possible, including information not just available through public records.
At the other hand, there are some third-party background check companies that only barely skimmed the public record information available to everyone free – all while charging for their services.
These companies are really nothing more than information aggregates, shortcutting the amount of time you have to spend looking for the same info yourself but not really adding any extra value whatsoever.
Only you will know whether or not they are a service you’ll want to move forward with.
How Long Does It Take to Run an Illinois Background Check?
By Illinois state law, all background checks request need to be responded to within five business days.
Understand, however, that the law requires only that the Illinois State Police respond to the application within that five business day window of time – which means all they really have to do inside of those five business days is confirm that they have in fact received your background check request and application.
In practice, most background checks are processed within five business days to seven business days – though sometimes it can take up to 10 business days or more for detailed background checks to be handled by the ISP.
Some third-party background check services are able to expedite the process a little bit thanks to the relationship that they have with different background check reporting agencies.
Even then you’re likely going to have to wait two or three days for detailed information to be provided to you.
How Much Do Background Checks in Illinois Cost?
Background checks in Illinois have a pricing structure established by the state legislature, with currently active pricing details available through the Illinois State Police Division of Administration website.
As of early 2021, however, individual background checks based on just a name search of the database are going to cost $20.
Fingerprint-based state background checks, however, are going to cost $20 (and it can take anywhere between three and four weeks extra time for these to be processed).
State background checks conducted in conjunction with the FBI (providing more federal information than what just ISP has access to) are going to cost $27.50.
Are There Background Checks for Firearms in Illinois?
Like every other state in America, all firearms purchased through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer require a background check to be conducted – starting with a Form 4473 run through either the NICS database or directly through the FBI.
Illinois also created what they call the Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card in 1968.
This card was established as a means to better regulate both the possession in the acquisition of firearms and ammunition in Illinois.
Unless otherwise exempted by some rule or regulation, every citizen of Illinois looking to purchase or to possess firearms and ammunition within the state needs to possess a valid FOID card to do so.
These cards are available only after going through a detailed background check conducted by the state police themselves.
Forms needed to apply for this firearms license can be downloaded directly from the State Police website (www.isp.state.il.us), with applications also regularly available at any FFL or gun shop that sells firearms or ammunition.
Are Illinois Criminal Records Easily Checked?
The general process for verifying criminal records in the state of Illinois is relatively simple and straightforward.
Illinois is classified as an “open records” state, providing point a bit of access to criminal history information to the general public that “closed records” states do not provide.
More information about how to begin the background check process you’re most interested in can be found by visiting the Illinois State Police, Division of Administration website at www.isp.state.il.us.
You can also call this office directly (Monday through Friday) at 815-740-5160.
What About Illinois Driving Records?
Illinois driving records are also relatively simple and straightforward to gain access to, whether you’re looking for your own driving records or the driving records of someone else as part of a detailed background check process.
The easiest way to begin this search is to simply request a Driving Record Abstract through the Illinois DRA system.
Visit the CyberDriveIllinois.com website, navigate to the Driving Record Abstract section of the platform, and initiate a check.
You’ll have to provide your own driving license number, your name, and a handful of other personally-identifying bits of information – as well as a valid credit or debit card to pay the $12 fee (with an extra payment processing fee attached, too).
You’ll instantly be provided with your record.
Checking another individual’s record is possible using mostly the same process, though you’ll obviously need their driving license number and their personal information, too. The charge is the same.
The major difference here is that you’ll have to visit a Driver Services facility directly and complete what is known as the Abstract Request Form. This costs $12 as well, with a $1 fee included, too.
You’ll be mailed your abstract directly, with the current timeline for those being sent to applicants pegged at anywhere between 11 and 15 days.
Can I Search Illinois Sex Offender Records?
Illinois Sex Offender Records are available to be searched by any member of the public at any point in time, 100% free of charge and without restriction.
As of early 2021, there are more than 18,000+ sex offender registrants listed under this registry in the state of Illinois. The database includes only information related to offenders that are under direct parole supervision or other mandatory supervised releases from the Department of Corrections, though.
This does mean that sex offender that are no longer under direct parole supervision or mandatory supervised release are not included in the database. Those that are released without the stipulations will not be in this database, either.
Searching the database is straightforward, though.
Visit www.isp.state.il.us, navigate to the Illinois State Police Sex Offender Registry, and begin using the search tools provided there.
More information about sex offender registrations can be found by contacting the Attorney General Illinois Sex Offender Registry Team. You can contact them at 888-414-7678.
How Do I Get Credit History During a Background Check?
Credit history checks in the state of Illinois are only going to be available pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act rules and regulations established by the federal government.
Not only will employers need a signed waiver giving them permission to pursue this kind of information, but they also need the ID information and the Social Security number of the applicants that they are researching as well.
All three of the major credit reporting agencies will provide what is known as “Employment Records”, abstracts of an individual’s credit history that provides them with the most relevant information to employment as established by the federal rules in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Are There Rules I Have to Follow to Run Background Checks in Illinois?
The major rules that need to be followed when running background checks in Illinois are those clearly outlined by the Illinois Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, the rules dictated by the Illinois Department of Labor, and the federal laws and regulations established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Outside of those rules and regulations, though, all that’s really necessary is to follow the background check process is clearly outlined by the Illinois State Police Bureau of Identification.
As long as those procedures are followed to the letter and all information requested is provided ahead of the background check, everything should proceed pretty smoothly.
What If I Uncover Incorrect Data on a Background Check?
If, during the process of conducting a background check, incorrect, out-of-date, or inaccurate information is discovered it’s important to reach out to the right reporting agencies to get these details corrected ASAP.
The last thing anyone wants to worry about is false information on their background check holding them back from being able to take advantage of employment opportunities they would have been able to leverage otherwise.
Getting this corrected, however, requires going directly to the reporting agency that made the error in the first place.
For example, having someone else’s arrest record attached to your criminal background check will require you to go to the arresting agency, the district court that handled the case, and then the Illinois State Police to get those records corrected.
Financial background check information that is incorrect (like any information provided by the major credit reporting agencies) will need to be taken up with those credit bureaus directly.
Driving history errors will need to be brought up with the Illinois Secretary of State office, usually by visiting the Driver Services website or going to a Driver Services facility directly.
Just make sure that you take care of these things as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more of an impact these errors and omissions may have on your employment opportunities in the future.
These kinds of corrections almost never happen overnight so you’ll want to get the ball rolling ASAP.