When having a background check performed in Missouri, many people have a lot of questions about how it works. This guide has been created to give you all the details about each step in Missouri’s background check process.
Background Check Laws in Missouri
The Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, issued an executive order back in 2016 that prevents any questions being asked to job applicants about their criminal history on an initial job application from any of the state departments, commissions, or boards that reside under the executive branch.
This executive order does not apply to local government, private entities, or any of the other state government employers. At this time, private employers can ask applicants to disclose any criminal convictions and or undergo a background check. No state statute in Missouri governs the use of employers conducting background checks.
Throughout the State of Missouri, the background check laws can vary from jurisdiction, and employers must follow the specific local, federal, and state laws that they fall under. Failure to comply could result in litigation and substantial damages that could cost that company a lot of money.
Local Laws for Background Checks in Missouri
Recently Kansas City and St. Louis put into place ordinances that prohibit an employer from making a hiring decision or promotion based on a potential employee’s criminal history. This is known as ‘ban the box’ laws.
To take it one step further, in 2021, St. Louis introduced a new law that prohibits companies with ten or more employees from asking any questions about an applicant’s criminal history. Once the applicant has been interviewed, then the employer can inquire about any criminal records.
However, in order for an employer to take this action, they need to inquire about all applicants’ criminal backgrounds, making sure not to single out any one individual. If an employer fails to follow these guidelines, they risk losing their business license and could be charged with civil penalties.
Kansas City has a similar ordinance; however, this stipulates that any employer in the locality with six or more employees must do the same and wait until after an applicant has been interviewed before investigating or asking any questions about criminal history.
What Are Ban-the-Box Laws?
In short, ban-the-box laws were created to prohibit companies from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial employment application. However, not all states have ban-the-box laws, and the ones that do can vary from state to state.
Some states have conditions set within the ban-the-box law and only allow an employer to question an applicant about their criminal history after a conditional offer for employment was offered.
Other states allow employers to investigate a potential employee’s criminal background after the first interview. Missouri does not have statewide ban-the-box laws in effect. Currently, they only exist in Kansas City, Columbia, and recently added St. Louis.
What Shows Up on a Missouri Background Check?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) consists of federal guidelines that regulate all hiring practices. It has been implemented into all of the United States’ hiring policies to provide protection to both potential employees and employers.
There are a number of different searches that can be conducted on a background check in Missouri, including but not limited to the following:
- Employment Verification
- Education Verification
- Address History
- Social Security Number Check
- Credit Check
- Criminal Records
- Driving Records
- Vehicle Registration
- Property Ownership
- Military Records
- Drug Test Results
- Sex Offender Information
- MVR Details
Employers typically want to determine if the application’s details match that of the potential employee’s background. For instance, if a law firm is hiring a legal secretary and that person claims to have graduated from Harvard Law School, the background check will confirm it.
Background checks can provide companies with a sense of security when going through the hiring process with all their candidates. More and more, businesses are turning to third-party credit reporting agencies to dig deeper into a potential employee’s background.
One of the biggest reasons employers pre-screen applicants for criminal history is that they need to provide a safe work environment for all their employees, preventing any negligent hiring lawsuits from being filed.
What Does a Social Security Number Check Reveal?
Performing a social security number check is essential to an employer because it reveals important details about the applicant. It will display all the locations an individual lived in and used their social security number to establish credit or a residence.
It will also reveal all the names that are associated with that particular social security number and all the dates when it was reported being used. Often, people change their names due to marriage or simply because they didn’t like the name they were given at birth.
However, every name associated with a social security number will be revealed during a check. This can be incredibly helpful to potential employers if an applicant inadvertently or purposely failed to provide these details during the application process.
In some cases, individuals change their names in hopes of getting a new start. They may have been trying to hide a bankruptcy or criminal record from a potential employer and did not want that to be discovered when applying for a job.
But when a thorough background check includes a social security number search, it would, in fact, reveal all these details and possibly more.
Note: Employers have a choice when running an employment background check in which reports or searches they deem necessary for their business. Not all companies will do extensive background screenings unless the position applied for is high-paying or a job of authority.
Why Do Employers Check Driving Records?
Employers often check an applicant’s driving records when they are applying for a position that requires the potential employee to use a company car. If a business hires somebody without a clean driving record, they run the risk of their insurance rates going up.
This is such a critical step for companies that have employees operating company cars. In fact, they will often run another driving record check before the 90-day probation period expires to see if the employee is maintaining a clean driving record.
This is especially essential for occupations that involve operating a vehicle with passengers, such as a school bus, ambulance, city transportation, taxi driver, as well as, food delivery trucks, or any government-owned vehicle.
Companies that are not hiring drivers to operate a company vehicle often check driving records to establish a sense of a potential employee’s sense of responsibility and trustworthiness.
Imagine if a potential manager had tons of unpaid traffic tickets or was the cause of several accidents. This may have an influence on the hiring manager’s decision as to whether or not this individual is a good fit for the business.
How to Get a Background Check in Missouri
Background checks in Missouri are typically initiated by an employer or a business that needs your personal details in order to conduct business. Most landlords will also perform a background check on you as well before renting a property to you.
You do have access to obtain any public records on yourself, but be prepared to pay a small fee depending on what all is involved. There are administrative costs associated with receiving copies of your records, including the printing or mailing of such documents.
You can also use any online service to obtain your background check on yourself. This will allow you to see what any potential employer sees, and it will help you detect any errors that may need to be addressed or removed from your report.
Prices can vary depending on the company you decide to use for your background check. These can range from the low end of under $20 to up in the hundreds. You’ll want to be careful which one you go with since a name-only search can typically be done on your own for minimal costs.
Fees & Costs
If you own a company or have a business that is eligible to run background checks on your applicant’s legally, then the following prices might be of interest to you:
FBI Background Check through the mail costs $12 per applicant and $10.75 for any volunteers. If wanting to use the MACHS online portal system, then the FBI background check runs $14.75 per applicant and $13.50 for all volunteers.
How Long Does a Background Check Take in Missouri?
Background checks in Missouri can generally be done within three to five business days. However, if an FBI background check was conducted, then this can take up to 45 days but is usually done in about thirty days.
There are resources online that will offer instant results; however, these types of background checks often contain errors and can’t be trusted when it comes to criminal history.
When using the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Criminal Records, and Identification Division’s website, then the processing time for a name-based only background check delivered through the mail can take anywhere from four to six weeks to receive.
How Far Back do Background Checks Go in Missouri?
Background checks in Missouri typically go back seven years; however, there is no seven-year rule for Missouri. So if an employer wants to go back ten years, they can. Most employers will choose to check a period of five to ten years when pre-screening potential employees.
Keep in mind that felony convictions will always be on your record, and an employer can search all the way back to when you were 18 years old. This is often the case when an employer is looking to hire a candidate for a managerial position or a job that requires handling the business’s finances.
There is currently no state law in Missouri that prevents an employer from using an arrest or conviction record when considering hiring an applicant. In almost all federal and state job applications, a thorough criminal background check will be conducted.
Can You Get a Free Background Check in Missouri?
Background checks in Missouri are not conducted for free. In order to obtain an official name-based background check, you must go through the Missouri State Highway Patrol. You will pay $14 for a standard background check and an additional $10 if a fingerprint background check is needed.
Fingerprint background checks in Missouri are restricted to specific agencies; you can not request this to be done independently. If you want an unofficial background check that accesses all the public records, then you might be able to receive these for free.
However, there are usually fees associated with administrative costs to obtain your public records. An unofficial background check will not reveal all the same details as an official background check.
You will also need to know which offices to contact to obtain records and then contact each one directly or in person. If you lived in multiple cities or counties, you would have to go to different locations based on your requested reports’ localities.
It is often easier to use an online service that can conduct your background check for a nominal fee. Depending on how much detail you are seeking, the costs will vary.
Why Do Employers Run Background Checks in Missouri?
There are several good reasons why every employer should conduct a background check on potential employees, but most importantly, they should always do this for any risk-sensitive positions, such as management or cash office.
Performing a background check on any employment candidate can help verify all the details they provided during the initial application process. It’s the perfect way for an employer to discover intentionally omitted details or were mistakenly given on the application.
Many companies implement a background check policy as part of their risk management. This prevents negligent hiring lawsuits and any illegal activities or serious misconduct. When obtaining background checks, employers are essentially promoting a safe work environment for all of their employees.
Background checks are especially important when an education factor is deemed necessary for the position at hand. For example, if somebody applies for an accounting position and claims to have an accounting degree, the background check will verify and confirm those details.
This is needed for any company that wants to protect their assets and only hire trustworthy people that will represent the business in a good light.
Does Missouri Require Background Checks to Purchase Firearms?
If you are purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, you will need to undergo a background check through the FBI. You will also need to fill out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives mandatory form, which is then filed onsite at the seller’s location.
The background check is conducted through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Once your firearm application details are submitted to this department, they then have three business days to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to deny the transfer of any firearm purchase to you based on your report.
However, if the FBI cannot complete the background check within those three days, the potential firearm buyer can then purchase the firearm from the federally licensed seller on the fourth day.
In the State of Missouri, the sale of a handgun, rifle, or shotgun from person to person does not require a background check to be performed. Keep in mind that the seller could potentially be putting themselves at risk by selling a firearm to somebody who is prohibited from owning one.
What is the Legal Age to Purchase Firearms in Missouri?
In order to buy a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, the individual making the purchase needs to be at least 21 years old to buy a handgun or handgun-caliber ammunition. Although, an 18-year-old in Missouri can purchase a shotgun or rifle and the ammunition for either of these firearms.
The same process for obtaining a firearm from a federally licensed dealer applies to all aged individuals. A background check must be conducted and approved by the FBI before the gun transfer can occur.
Oddly enough, Missouri has no law in place that restricts an individual’s age from buying any firearms from private sellers. However, there is an act in place that prohibits any person under the age of 18 from possessing a handgun. This is called the Youth Handgun Safety Act.
You also do not have to carry a permit to own a firearm in Missouri, nor do you need to register any firearms.