Background checks in Nevada can be confusing. If you’re wondering about things like how they work, what kinds of information they check, who can run them, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be answering all of those questions, in addition to covering the federal and state laws and statutes relevant to background checks in the State of Nevada. Read on to find out more.
An Introduction to Background Checks in Nevada
While background checks are legal in Nevada, they are subject to both federal and state restrictions. If you’ve landed on this page, chances are you are an employer, landlord, or financial institution wishing to screen an applicant before hiring, renting to, or lending to him or her. Or perhaps you are an individual who is going to be subject to a background check.
Whatever the case may be, it is always wise to inform yourself on the federal and local legislation that dictates who can run background checks on whom and when, and how the information obtained through such checks can be legally used.
Like all other states, Nevada is subject to federal regulations regarding access to individuals’ personal records, but it also has some laws unique to the state, as well. Below is an introduction to both federal and local laws covering background checks in Nevada.
Federal and State Laws Related to Background Checks
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, distinguishes between two types of background checks, specifically consumer reports and investigative consumer reports. Both check things like general credit and criminal history, but only the latter includes additional information related to an individual’s reputation, such as verifying character references.
According to the FCRA, enacted in 1970, certain employers are required to obtain written consent from anyone they wish to run a background check on. They are also obligated to notify the person in question if they are considering taking adverse action on the basis of the results of such a report.
The FCRA also stipulates that certain types of information be precluded from background checks. For example, consumer checks cannot include medical information without specific written consent from the person being screened. The same legislation also limits the inclusion of criminal information other than convictions to records antedated no more than seven years prior to the check.
A 2019 ruling of the 9th Us Circuit Court of Appeals, under whose jurisdiction Nevada falls, further stipulates that the cutoff date be counted from when the charge’s entry date rather than its disposition date, as specified by the FCRA. The ruling also bans the inclusion of subsequent events, such as dismissals, in the background check results.
Nevada State Ban-the-Box Laws
The State of Nevada has its own Ban-the-Box Laws aimed at leveling the playing field for ex-offenders.
These laws prohibit state and local government employers from asking applicants about their criminal history on an initial job application, though there is an exception for applicants for positions as peace officers and firefighters.
There is also an exemption for any position in which the employee would have access to data from Criminal Justice Information Services and/or the National Crime Information Center. Job applications must also clearly state that criminal records are not automatically disqualifying.
Nevada’s Ban-the-Box laws also require that upon examining an applicant’s criminal records, government employers consider when a conviction occurred and the applicant’s age at the time, the nature and severity of the offense in question, as well as how it relates to the job being applied for, and also any demonstrable evidence that the applicant has since rehabilitated.
Government employers are also obligated to disregard any dismissed or sealed cases, any misdemeanors that did not lead to jail time, and also any arrests that did not lead to a conviction.
If a government employer ultimately decides not to hire an applicant based on his or her criminal history, they must provide the applicant with an opportunity to both explain the relevant conviction and its circumstances and/or to challenge the details of the criminal record.
Nevada Senate Bill 409
Passed in 2015, this bill gave some leverage back to Nevada-based employers. Essentially, the bill frees up some of the restrictions on employers when running background checks on applicants.
According to the legislation, consumer reporting agencies are now permitted to include criminal convictions even when they are older than seven years in reports returned to all employers in the state. Additionally, when reporting on gaming licensees, such agencies can also furnish information on an applicant’s bankruptcies older than 10 years and other civil judgments going back more than seven years.
Nevada Revised Statute 613.570 stipulates that Nevada employers who wish to consider an applicant’s credit report in considering their candidacy for employment must first notify the applicant of such intention and also receive his or her written consent. Moreover, they are prohibited from taking adverse action on the basis of a credit report.
There are, however, some exceptions to this stipulation, such as cases where the employer is required by state or federal law to take adverse action, for instance, banks and other financial institutions.
An employer can also take adverse action on the basis of a credit check if they believe the applicant has engaged in illegal activity or if they believe the credit report to be significantly related to the job applied for. Nevada considers the following conditions for a position to qualify:
- Managerial or supervisory positions
- Employment at a financial institution or licensed gaming establishment
- Employment at a state or local law enforcement agency
- The job includes interaction with money; financial records; and corporate credit/debit cards or other company assets
- The job involves access to proprietary/confidential information or personal information, including financial information
Nevada Bill AB101
Nevada Bill AB101, which came into effect in 2013, restricts employers from requiring job applicants to disclose social media information as part of a job application unless required to do so by state or federal law.
This can include information such as an applicant’s username, password, and other similar data linked to any social media accounts. This includes not only profiles and content on social media platforms but also email, instant messages, and text messages.
Sex Offender Information
Employers in Nevada are legally prohibited from considering any information obtained from the Nevada Department of Public Safety Records, Communications, and Compliance Division’s Sex Offender Registry and Community Notification Page as part of pre-employment screening.
How do I get a background check in Nevada?
The Human Services Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health requires certain licensed Nevada-based employers to run a background check on employees via within 10 days of hiring them. These checks are conducted via the Nevada Automated Background Check System.
Employers that do not fall under the jurisdiction of this division, on the other hand, will typically outsource their background checks to a third-party investigative reporting agency. These agencies are experts in culling information from a broad array of sources and compiling it into a comprehensive report.
It is obviously also possible to scan different sources, such as court records or government websites, one-by-one. However, this can be a time-consuming and inefficient process for the uninitiated.
Individuals in Nevada interested in obtaining their own criminal history can do so via the Nevada Department of Public Safety Records, Communications, and Compliance Division. If no such history exists on record for the applying individual, the department will furnish the applicant with proof of the same.
Self-checks can also be done individually by accessing different government websites, public records, social media, etc. Once again, however, this tends to be a highly tedious undertaking with inconsistent results, which is why individuals may also wish to use a third-party service to find out what is on their record.
What Shows Up on a Background Check in Nevada?
Background checks can look into many aspects of an individual’s identity and history, including criminal, employment, and financial history. It can also verify a person’s identity and things like the individual’s education and credentials.
Background checks that return a criminal record may include information such as:
- Criminal charges
- The relevant offense level
- The date of filing
- A case’s disposition and disposition date
- Sentencing information related to a case
What Do Employers in Nevada Look for When Running Background Checks?
Most employers will look not only into an applicant’s criminal background (should he or she have one) but also into qualifying details the applicant submits with his or her application. This can include things like professional licenses and certificates, university degrees, and employment history information. Employers also tend to check things like driving records, and some pre-employment screening may include drug testing, as well.
Depending on the scope of a background check and the specifics of the hiring agency and the applicant, employers may also search address and credit histories, social security and immigration information, and even insurance claims on record.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Go In Nevada?
As mentioned previously, according to state law, background checks in Nevada can report criminal records even if they go back more than seven years. The only exception is for records of arrests that did not lead to a conviction, which are limited to a seven-year window.
How Long Do Background Checks Take In Nevada?
The length of time it takes to run background checks in Nevada depends on the method used to conduct them. For example, searching through court and other records individually is typically a fairly time-consuming affair. Investigative reporting agencies, on the other hand, tend to get results back in less than a week and sometimes in a mere matter of days.
You should note that regardless of the method you use, court and agency closures due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic are likely to cause delays to background check processing times.
How Long Do Background Checks for a Gun Take in Nevada?
Nevada has traditionally had fairly lax legislation regarding the purchase of firearms. For example, background checks are only required for gun purchases sold via federally licensed dealers.
Up until 2020, moreover, Nevada sellers not considered to be engaged in the business of firearms sales were exempt from any requirements for licensure or record keeping, though this is no longer the case. Now, most sales in the state, even those between private sellers and buyers, must be conducted via a federally licensed dealer.
For federally licensed sellers, Nevada statutes require that background checks be run on the potential buyer or transferee before any firearms change hands. Firearms dealers are also allowed to charge the buyer for this background check.
The process entails going through the Nevada Department of Public Safety as per the Brady Point of Sale program. This department processes the sale request, checking state and federal records, including the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, to determine whether the would-be buyer is eligible to purchase and possess a firearm.
If the checks come back with any delays, the process can take up to three days. If the system clears the applicant, however, there is no mandatory waiting period for the purchase to go through.
What is an FBI Background Check?
Some employers and jobs, particularly in cases of federal agencies or companies working with or for the federal government, can require an FBI background check in addition to or in lieu of routine background checks. This sort of check is more comprehensive in part because it checks both criminal and non-criminal records.
FBI background checks check the same types of information as standard criminal background checks but also investigate the subject’s interactions with all law enforcement agencies that share information with the FBI. This can include arrests even if they did not lead to indictments or convictions.
FBI background checks require that subjects submit their fingerprints and that these be taken by an FBI-recognized agency. The FBI subsequently checks the prints against its Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), which compiles fingerprint data from law enforcement and immigration agencies nationwide, and may also include fingerprints submitted in previous employment applications.
What are Some Common Red Flags on Nevada Background Checks?
While each background check is different depending on the context it is conducted in, the person being screened, and the reason behind the screen, there are some basic things that are generally considered red flags. Below is a list of the more common types of results that can lead to an employer taking adverse action, such as rescinding a job offer.
A criminal history is among the things most employers are least likely to want to see on an applicant’s record. This is not only a matter of making a poor impression; if a company hires a known criminal who later engages in further criminal activity, that company can potentially be held legally accountable.
Even so, remember that not all criminal records will show up in every single background check. For example, arrests that did not lead to a conviction may be excluded.
If you know you have a criminal history, it is in your interest to try to find out what your potential employer is likely to see based on the type and location of the job you are applying for. This can give you a chance to prepare yourself accordingly.
If you believe that specific criminal activity from your past will make it across your potential employer’s desk, it is advisable either to bring this history up during your application or alternatively to avoid applying to the job altogether if you think it may be a deal-breaker.
Whatever you do, you do not want to try to conceal a criminal history from your employer if they are going to find out about it anyway, as that will almost certainly be a deal-breaker.
Think carefully about any convictions that are directly or indirectly relevant to the job or industry you are applying for. A dirty driving recording, for example, is probably not going to bode well with a transportation agency, while firearms convictions are not going to impress a security firm.
Extended/multiple periods of unemployment
Employers usually look carefully at an applicant’s job history, and they may attempt to verify the details you submit when running a background check on you. If your work history includes extended gaps from one job to the next, especially in cases of multiple out-of-work periods, it can definitely be a red flag.
If your history includes gaps of this sort and you are worried this may look less than impressive, think about how you might reasonably explain the reasons for these periods of unemployment. These can be things like illnesses, emergencies, or crises related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Revolving-door job history
Another red flag is an on-again, off-again work history. If you have a lot of short-term periods of employment, your potential employer is liable to worry you may be unstable or hard to get along with.
That said, there are obviously cases where working a job for short periods is justified and even standard, for example, seasonal jobs or summer jobs while on vacation from school. You might also share any details of unfair treatment or contractual violations, particularly if you can produce documentation of the same.
Too little/irrelevant experience
Whenever applying for a job, it is considered best practice to research the job and company or agency thoroughly and to prepare a unique resumé that relates to what you learn. Potential employers who see a lot of irrelevant work history are unlikely to be left with a positive impression that you would make a good candidate for the position.
The same is true if you submit an application with little work history or, worse yet, none at all. This is almost certain to disqualify you.
So even if you are fresh out of school and new to the job market or a specific industry, take the time to fill out your resumé with any experience you can, as long as it is somehow relevant. Even volunteer work or hobbies are better than nothing.
Just as we saw in the case of concealing a criminal history, you generally want to abstain from lying on a job application. Even if you think you have a good story, employers are likely to find out the truth when the results of your background check come back. So don’t put any fictitious or distorted information on your application.
And even if you are qualified and experienced for the job, don’t try to inflate your credentials or experience. Rather, focus on what makes you a strong candidate by clearly communicating your knowledge, training, and experience and how it is relevant to the job.
Keep the same thing in mind when listing your references. Include past employers or others who can speak to your professional and personal traits from an objective point of view. Avoid listing family and friends, as employers can follow up on your references and get in touch with them.
Where Can I Get a Free Background Check?
You may want to run a background check on yourself, whether it is to find out what potential employers can see or simply for peace of mind. Running a self-background check can also help you determine if your records contain any inaccurate information, and report this to the relevant agencies, or even file an appeal.
While there are no free comprehensive background checks for the State of Nevada, you can do a limited amount of snooping for free. The following are some of the ways you can collect at least some basic information that is likely to be included in the results of a background check.
- Nevada Public Records Act: The Nevada Public Records Act grants the public the right to access all books and records pertaining to government bodies. Nevadans can submit a request for public records access without any statement of purpose, but keep in mind that you can only check information about yourself.
- Bankruptcy and property records: You can use the PACER service to search federal court records for public bankruptcy and other related records. Though the service is not free, it costs only a symbolic fee of 10¢ per page. You can also use NETR Online to access state and county records for the property and environmental information.
- Sex offender records: You can use the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website to access info on registered sex offenders nationwide.
- Public online info: Finally, you can scour much of the web for free. If done carefully and systematically, this may yield more information than you might think. This can include past addresses and phone numbers, employer and education history, marriage and divorce records, and more. You could also check social media, including professional networks like LinkedIn.