Want to know more about getting a background check done in New Jersey? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’re going to cover everything you need to know, so there are no surprises along the way.
Background Check Laws In New Jersey
Firstly, there are two types of law that you must be aware of when doing background checks in New Jersey. They are:
- The New Jersey Fair Credit Reporting Act (or ‘NJFCRA’).
- ‘Ban-the-Box’ and Fair Hiring Laws.
The New Jersey Fair Credit Reporting Act (or ‘NJFCRA’)
The state of New Jersey follows the New Jersey Fair Credit Reporting Act or NJFCRA. It’s modeled after the FCRA (the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act). As a result, both acts are almost identical.
Whether you’re in New Jersey or anywhere else in the country, the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA is something you’ll see often. This is the federal government’s way of keeping things fair when it comes to doing background checks for pre-employment purposes.
To put it simply, the FCRA monitors job seekers and employers to ensure that everyone is protected when it comes to background checks. Employers and candidates are both monitored and protected by this law when it comes to background checks and how the information is used to make hiring decisions.
‘Ban-the-Box’ and Fair Hiring Laws
Another term you may come across frequently is ‘Ban-the-Box’ or fair hiring laws. Yes, New Jersey does have this kind of law, even though some other U.S. states might not.
In the state of New Jersey, the law ensures that employers cannot inquire about a job candidate’s criminal history until after the first interview. Besides that, the law also states that employers can’t consider any criminal convictions that were expunged or pardoned when making any decisions regarding the person’s employment.
As a result of those two things, the hiring process becomes much fairer for the job candidate while also protecting the interest of the employer. The job candidate can also rest assured that their privacy will also be protected throughout the background check process.
In New Jersey, the law applies to all employers that have at least 15 people working for them.
What Shows Up On A Background Check In New Jersey?
The exact contents of a New Jersey background check will be different depending on the kind of information that you’re looking for. Typically, the kind of information that most people request include:
- The person’s education history (e.g. where they went to college)
- The person’s professional history (e.g. where they’ve worked and for how long)
- Criminal records (e.g. convictions, court cases, arrests, and so on)
Generally, that kind of background check information is enough for most people. However, there may be situations when a more in-depth background check is required.
For example, an employer that’s based in New Jersey may want to perform a background check on a job candidate for a specialized role. If that’s the case, then they may request a background check that includes:
- Licensing checks (e.g. engineering qualifications or medical licenses).
- Motor vehicle and traffic offense checks (e.g. for a role that involves operating the company’s motor vehicles).
- Sex offender registry checks (e.g. for jobs that involve providing care for children).
Besides that, some background checks may focus on verifying the person’s identity. That’s especially the case where there might be a concern or suspicion revolving around the issue of identity theft.
No matter what the situation might be, a background check in New Jersey can be as simple or as detailed as you require. Of course, the more detailed the background check that you request, the more time, money, and effort it will take to gather all the necessary information.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Go In New Jersey?
Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), background checks typically only go as far back as 7 years. However, it’s important to note there are some exceptions to that rule.
Firstly, some states do have local laws that require a background check to go back much further, perhaps even up to 10 years.
Besides that, the timeframe of the background check will also depend on what kind of job the person is pursuing.
Firstly, that 7-year time frame does not apply to convictions. Regardless of when the misdemeanor or felony conviction took place, it can be included in the background check and used to make employment decisions.
Besides that, another significant exemption is if the job in question pays an annual salary of more than $75,000. If that’s the case, then any previous arrests can be included in the background checks regardless of the timeframe.
How Long Does A Background Check Take In New Jersey?
A New Jersey background check can take anywhere from one business day to two weeks. The exact duration will depend on the type of information you’re seeking and how you go about collecting it. Simply put, the more in-depth the background check, the longer it’ll take to complete it.
Still, let’s look at a few factors that might delay getting a background check done in New Jersey.
Factors That Might Delay A New Jersey Background Check
Regardless of how you decide to get a background check in New Jersey, there are several factors that can delay the entire process. They include:
- Incomplete or incorrect information on the person (e.g. wrong name or date of birth)
- Confusion between people with similar names, causing records to get mixed up
- Geographical challenges, like when collecting information in other states or countries
- Delays at the source of information, such as with courts providing case records
With that in mind, it’s always best to ensure that you’re providing the correct information when requesting background searches. Beyond that, many of the reasons behind any delays are often out of your control.
How To Get A Quicker New Jersey Background Check
Despite the potential delays, there are ways to speed up the New Jersey background check process.
For example, if you are only pursuing a limited amount of information for your background check, it might be easier for you to gather the information yourself. You could approach the relevant government offices and submit a request yourself, thereby reducing the turnaround time.
However, if you’re interested in getting a very in-depth background check, then it might be wise to work with a background check service provider. Sometimes known as Consumer Reporting Agencies or screening services, these companies specialize in gathering a wide range of information for your background check.
Best of all, they’ll compile everything into an easy-to-read report for you to refer to later. These service providers are quite competitive, which is why they tend to have dedicated teams of professionals to complete the background check as quickly as possible.
Still, no matter how you go about getting your background check in New Jersey, you’ll cut down any waiting time by ensuring that you’re providing the correct information on the subject.
Double-check to be sure that you have the correct name (with the correct spelling) and that the date of birth is also correct.
Any additional information that you can provide may also speed up the process.
How Long Does A Background Check Take For A Gun In New Jersey?
A background check for a gun in New Jersey typically takes only one business day unless delayed. That’s because the New Jersey State Police uses a system called the NICS or ‘National Instant Criminal Background Check System’. Any requests for a background check are handled by the NICS Operation Centre.
Who Can Submit A Request To The NICS?
The NICS is not a system that can be used by the general public. Instead, the only people who can submit a background check request to the NICS are federally-licensed Firearm Dealerships that are authorized to do business with the New Jersey Police NICS Unit.
Those firearms dealers will submit background check requests to the online system when a person wishes to buy a firearm from the dealer.
While the background check process for a gun usually takes only one business day, delays can still occur. Typically, these delays can last up to three business days or longer.
Delays can happen for any number of reasons. For example, the person filing the request may have provided the NICS with incorrect or incomplete information on the person. Besides that, a surge in the volume of requests received by the NICS Operation Centre could also cause delays, which have happened in other states as well.
How To Get A Background Check In New Jersey
To get a background check in New Jersey, you can gather the information directly or hire a service provider to do it for you. Each option comes with its fair share of pros and cons, which we will explore in this section.
Gathering The Information Directly
Thanks to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act or OPRA, members of the public are allowed access to certain government records. As a result, individuals can submit requests to the appropriate government offices to get records like criminal histories, court records, and so on.
Besides that, certain kinds of information can also be gathered at the source. For example, a recruiter wishing to verify a job candidate’s academic credentials could contact the university directly to do so.
Of course, pursuing a background check this way does come with its fair share of pros and cons. For example, if the background check only requires a limited amount of information, then gathering the information directly could save a lot of time and money.
Still, the process could suffer from delays. The source of the information (such as the university mentioned earlier) might be slow in responding to requests for verification. The same could also happen if the information is being gathered from sources in other states or overseas in other countries.
Despite there being several factors at play here, gathering the information directly might be the best option for you depending on your circumstances.
Hiring A Service Provider
Another popular way of getting a background check is to hire a service provider to do it for you. These service providers go by many names including Consumer Reporting Agencies, pre-employment screening check providers, and so on. Still, they perform the same function, which is to perform background checks on your behalf.
Here’s how they work.
Firstly, you’ll provide them with accurate information on the candidate that you’d like them to perform a background check on. Typically, they’ll have teams of experienced and knowledgeable staff members who will then gather all of the information you’ve requested.
They’ll submit requests to the government offices or interact with other institutions to do so.
At the end of the process, these companies will usually compile all of the information into a background check report that’s easy to read and understand, and then they’ll hand it over to you.
Getting a New Jersey background check this way will probably involve a higher cost. After all, you’re hiring a company that will assign several staff to fulfill your request. However, you do get plenty of value in exchange for whatever amount you pay.
Firstly, background check service providers have very quick turnaround times. Plus, you’ll have the convenience of never having to do any of the legwork yourself.
Suppose you decide to work with a third-party service provider. If that’s the case, then it would also be best for you to compare several New Jersey service providers before selecting the best one for your needs.
The industry can be quite competitive, and some providers may promise a quicker turnaround time than others. On top of that, one screening service provider may specialize in specific types of information.
Which Approach Is Best?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to getting a background check in New Jersey. For some people, getting the information directly may be the quickest and cheapest way to get what they need.
However, larger companies that need to continually perform background checks on job candidates will probably work with a third-party service provider. That way, they can outsource the background check responsibilities to a specialized company that can help them manage the process much easier.
Besides, larger companies and recruiters certainly have the budget to rely on third-party screening providers in New Jersey.
The same can also be said for individuals who prefer and can afford a third-party background check provider. That way, they won’t have to do any of the legwork themselves.
How To Get A Criminal Background Check In New Jersey
To get a criminal background check in New Jersey, you’ll need to submit a request to the New Jersey State Police. They offer name-based checks for criminal records originating in New Jersey.
You can submit a request online by providing them with the subject’s name, birthdate, social security number, and any other information that might be helpful. With that information, you’ll fill up the SBI 212B form and pay a $20 fee.
What Do Job Background Checks Check For In New Jersey?
Background checks in New Jersey can cover any number of criteria, depending on what information the employer has requested. Typically, employers will request a check for:
- Verifying the person’s identity.
- Verifying the person’s professional history (e.g. where they’ve worked before).
- Verifying the person’s academic history (e.g. did the person graduate with the degree they claim to have).
- Verifying criminal history records.
Employers may choose to request more in-depth background checks depending on the role that’s being applied for. Such checks might include:
- Credit history check (e.g. for a job that involves handling money).
- Sex offender registry check (e.g. for jobs that involve working with vulnerable groups like children).
- Motor vehicle license and traffic offenses checks (e.g. for jobs that involve driving a company vehicle).
- Licenses checks (e.g. for jobs that require professional licenses).
Can I Get A Free Background Check In New Jersey?
No, you cannot get a free background check in New Jersey. Whenever you submit a request for a background check, there are fees involved. That’s the same whether you are submitting a request directly to a government office or if you’re working with a third-party service provider.
With that said, there are several ways that you can use to reduce the cost of your background check. Some of them include:
- Performing the background check yourself by requesting the information directly. In doing so, you’ll only have to pay the necessary fees for requesting the public records. You won’t be paying any fees for a third-party to do the work on your behalf.
- Minimize the amount of information that you’re requesting. When it comes to background checks, some people might want to request a background check covering the full spectrum of options. Doing that will result in a background check report with plenty of extra information you may not need.
- To do that, put a bit more thought into what type of background check information you require and whether or not it’s relevant to your needs.