If you’re looking for a guide to provide you with all the details about New York background checks, then you’re on the right page. Continue reading our comprehensive guide below for all the answers you need about how background checks work in New York.
Background Check Laws in New York
There are many laws in place in New York that allow employers to access a candidate’s background information. They can check previous employment history, run a credit report, and even request an individual’s criminal record.
But employers aren’t the only people who run background checks. Anytime you apply for a loan or fill out an application to rent a place, the party involved will most likely run a background check on you before approving your application.
However, some laws restrict employers from using criminal records for determining employment eligibility in New York. All public companies are prevented from asking about any convictions until after the initial interview takes place.
Private employers are not permitted to ask about any sealed records or arrests. They can’t terminate, refuse to hire, or discipline any individual based on previous findings such as charges or arrests.
If an employer chooses to ask a candidate about convictions, they must then be able to prove that their decision not to hire was not solely based on a criminal record unless the offense impacts the duties of the job at hand.
Background details in New York are typically restricted to only go back seven years into an applicant’s history. However, 10 years can be deemed necessary and is allowed in certain cases under state law.
New York State Laws
There are state laws in effect that prevent employers from using specific details on background checks to assist with their hiring decisions. These include but are not limited to the following:
The only time an applicant’s credit history can be used in employment hiring decisions is when the applicant is applying for a directly related position to the banking or financial sector. Other types of employers are not permitted to use a credit report in any hiring process.
Background checks in the state of New York can contain bankruptcy details that are older than 14 years. However, there are specific requirements that must be met:
- Single financial transaction greater than $50,000
- Life Insurance Policy over $50,000
- A job that has an annual salary of more than $25,000
New York prevents all employers from using prior convictions to discriminate against a candidate unless one or more of the crimes convicted involved endangering the public’s safety, were significant in one or more ways, or are considered to be recent.
Criminal Background Checks in New York
Criminal history background checks are performed in New York for many different reasons and often provide details that are different from civil court records. Most civil judgments wouldn’t be included in a criminal background check unless an actual crime was committed.
This generally means that a person who has defaulted on multiple loans or was evicted from their place of residence will be excluded from a criminal background check. The main reason many lenders or employers run an additional credit check is due to this type of example.
Both New York City and New York State have specific laws in place that prohibit any discrimination based on the findings from a criminal background check. Employers can view a potential employee’s criminal history; however, they cannot stipulate a job offer that has to be based on a clean record.
There are very few circumstances under which a potential employee can be rejected due to a criminal record showing up on a background check. These include anything that might directly affect their ability to do the job sufficiently, such as having a DUI when applying to drive a school bus or transportation of any kind.
What is Included in a New York Criminal Background Report?
If a criminal conviction was logged into the CHRS (Criminal Records History Search), then that will be available on a state background check. Sealed records, charges that didn’t result in a conviction, and arrest records are not disclosed on a background check report in New York.
Only active charges and convictions will be revealed on a criminal background check report in the state of New York. However, the convictions should be less than seven years old to be in compliance with state limitations.
Here are the items that can show up in a criminal background check:
- Personal Information – This can include the date of birth, marital status, full name, maiden name, alias’, and nationality.
- Crime Committed – This will include a full description of the crime committed and what offense was charged. This includes felonies, misdemeanors, sex crimes, etc.
- Financial Records – Bankruptcies, civil judgments, repossessions, and both state and federal tax liens will be present in this report.
- Other Items – Incarceration records, warrants, notable marks or features on the person (tattoos, scars, etc.), fingerprints, and mugshots.
Depending on how extensive the criminal background check is, it could list more items than what is listed above.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS)
You can make a request for a copy of a New York State criminal history report, aka Personal Record View of an individual through the DCJS. However, this process does not allow another person to access a criminal record about any individual other than themselves.
Personal Record Reviews are performed in two different ways:
- Suppressed – Doesn’t have any suppressed criminal history records or sealed files.
- Unsuppressed – Has all suppressed records and criminal history records, including any sealed files.
You will need to follow the same process when requesting either the suppressed or unsuppressed personal records review. This includes:
- Schedule an appointment by calling 1-877-472-6915 or going online to IdentiGo’s website. This appointment is for having your fingerprints taken by a Live Scan system.
- Provide one of the following service codes:
- Unsuppressed Record – 15465F
- Suppressed Record – 15464Z
- Check the website for the list of accepted forms of identification and bring a credit card or money order for $63.50 to the scheduled appointment. (money order should be made out to Idemia)
Note: Once your testing is completed, you will need to wait seven to ten days for the results to be revealed by DCJS.
Why Do Employers Conduct Background Checks?
The hiring process might appear to look simple; however, for an employer, it is more than just making a job offer to the best candidate on paper. That candidate should also have the right qualifications to meet the job’s requirements, including integrity.
Nowadays, the competition is fierce in the job market, and no employer can risk just taking an applicant’s word at face value about their qualifications and, of course, their past.
In order for an employer to be effective in their hiring practices, they need to delve into applicant’s backgrounds to see what all their previous experience includes and whether or not they have what it takes to fit the demands of the job in question.
Here are the top reasons employers run background checks:
Seeing an applicant’s credentials on paper is one thing, but speaking to previous employers can reveal many things that a resume or application can’t. Such as what type of character the applicant is and whether or not they can be trusted.
It will also confirm the experience the applicant included in their application. All previous employers should be able to give an accurate description of the job duties the candidate performed at their establishment.
Along with checking references, employers are looking to verify potential employees’ education and confirm any degrees, diplomas, or certificates that were listed on their application.
Protect Their Business
When companies hire new employees, they run the risk of bringing somebody on board that can damage their reputation or causes harm to their establishment. This is why background checks are an essential part of most businesses’ hiring practices.
When an employer initiates the background process, they are hoping to confirm that the person who applied for the position is exactly who they say they are. But sometimes, people get carried away when talking about their previous work experience or their level of education.
This can create an issue when the position applied for relies heavily on a particular degree or field of work. Every employer wants to make sure that the person they hire can fulfill the duties required for the position they applied for.
Just like every automobile should have insurance, so does every business. But unlike individual insurance policies, companies are held to a much higher standard. If a business has company vehicles or employees are operating some kind of machinery, then the insurance company that insures that business will require a background check on all employees.
This is a standard procedure, and every business in New York must follow the guidelines set forth by the insurance companies that are protecting their interests. Another example would be the accountant handling the business’s taxes. If that person isn’t a certified accountant with a degree in accounting, then the company could be liable for any tax laws missed or broken.
What’s Included in an Employment Background Check
Unlike criminal background checks, pre-screening employment background checks typically focus more on previous work history and education. Employers run background checks for a number of reasons, some of which are required by insurance companies.
But the main reason an employer runs background checks on any person applying for a management position or a job that requires handling the company’s finances is that they want to verify the applicant’s credentials.
If somebody applies for a management position and claims they went to Oxford to obtain a degree in business, then a background check can confirm that. When it comes to jobs that rely heavily on education, an employer cannot risk hiring someone who may have exaggerated or lied on their employee application.
Here are the most common things employers look for on background checks:
- Job History
- Credit History
- Driving Records
- Criminal History or Records
- Verifiable Education Degrees, Diplomas, or Certificates
Driving records are an essential factor when the position being applied for involves using a company vehicle. But even if you are using your personal vehicle to deliver something for an employer, they will still want to verify your driving records.
Why Do Some People Use Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA) for Background Checks?
Many companies, including financial lenders and landlords, will turn to Consumer Reporting Agencies when wanting to receive the most details about an individual’s worthiness.
These types of background checks usually dive into an individual’s credit history, finding information that could help assist the lender when making a final decision.
These types of reports typically include any past due or delinquent bills, judgments for bankruptcy, any pending or resolved civil cases, and much more.
If a lender or an employer has used one of these agencies to obtain details about your credit history, they are required by law to provide you with a copy of their report for a small fee.
You should make it a habit to check your credit report a few times a year for any mistakes or omissions and make sure you’re not a victim of identity theft.
Why You Should Do a Background Check on Yourself
If you haven’t done an online search or background check of yourself recently, it may be a good idea to do one today. There are many reasons you should be doing background checks regularly on yourself.
There could be incorrect information reported about you on a credit report or even a criminal report that is damaging to your reputation. Some of the things that can pop up on background checks can affect your chances of getting a loan or the job you applied for.
However, there are steps you can take to correct or remove any misinformation that is damaging your name and reputation.
But more importantly, it’s the best way to find out if you’re a victim of identity theft. Often, people go years without knowing that somebody else is using their identity. This can cause serious harm to your credit when not being addressed immediately.
Reasons to do Background Checks on Other People
If you’re considering getting a roommate or just met the person of your dreams, it’s the perfect time to do some checking on their background. This can be done discreetly, and the person you’re investigating doesn’t ever have to find out.
This is also a way to discover any details that are lurking in a person’s past. Most people don’t want to give their whole life’s details when trying to impress somebody, especially if those details could be damaging to their character.
Can You Get a Free Background Check Done in New York?
There are several ways you can get background information on yourself or another individual that won’t cost you a thing. However, if you’re an employer or a business that is seeking background details about an applicant, you’ll need a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA).
The Fair Credit Reporting Act was established to protect the public’s rights and make sure that data protection policies are being followed. So if you’re a business owner or operating under the direction of an employer to do a background check, then make sure you go through the proper channels and use a CRA.
It isn’t a free service, but it can help you avoid fines or, even worse, when using any company that is not considered to be a CRA and denying somebody employment, loans, etc., based on those findings.
Free Services for Background Checks
If you want to do a background check on yourself or another person that is not employment or business-related, then you can choose from many different services that are legal.
The easiest way to get details about that love interest or potential roommate is to hire a professional service. However, that won’t be free. If you’re okay with paying a small fee, then you can find several background agencies online that specialize in these areas.
But you will need to be careful and keep an eye out for any scam companies. The best way to do this is to check several agencies’ prices to get an average price for the background check you’re looking for and then steer clear of any companies with pricing that is too high or too low.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t legit!
If you don’t want to pay for your background check, then you have other options. These might take much longer than hiring a professional, but remember, it’s also free.
So, if you want to save some money and you have some time, you can do many of the same checks yourself. You might even dig up details about a person’s character or habits that a professional wouldn’t even consider.
If you’re looking for information about their past that doesn’t include criminal or financial activities, then a simple Google or social media search will probably suffice. However, if you want to know if you can trust somebody or if their past was shady, you’ll want to go deeper.
The best place to get information about somebody is through public records. Go to New York’s official government website and do a free public search. You can also view court records for free in each jurisdiction that the person you’re searching for has lived in.
You should be able to see any felony or misdemeanor convictions on both the city and county level that you are searching in. There will also be records for civil judgments, such as bankruptcies or any court orders that were established to pay off debts.
However, credit reports cannot be done without written permission and a legitimate business reason. If you want to run a credit report on somebody else, you’re going to need their written consent.
Keep in mind that if you’re checking on yourself, then you are entitled to get a free copy of your credit report once a year from all three reporting agencies:
- Trans Union
- Experian and
You can request your free copy of your credit report by contacting the above agencies online and submitting your details. Some results will be instant; however, sometimes you may have to contact the agency and give more information.
When performing any background search, the more details you have about an individual, the better your chances of finding information will be. Names can be tricky, and you’ll want to try and get a middle initial or name to be certain you have the right person.
But even then, some people have the exact same name as another person. So a date of birth will help you determine who the correct person is in your search.
New York Firearm Background Checks
There is a mandatory background check for any firearm sale in the state of New York. Every sale of a firearm must be handled through a federally licensed firearms dealer, who is responsible for processing a background check for criminal records through CHRS (Criminal Records History Search) and the FBI’s NICS database.
New York is considered a ‘may-issue’ state, and a concealed carry permit automatically requires a background check. In addition, the applicant will need to prove that they have a necessary reason for obtaining a concealed carry permit to be considered and approved.
New York allows most residents in the state to own a long gun without a license, but automatic weapons are banned along with any ammunition magazines that can hold ten or more rounds. Convicted felons are also banned from possessing or owning any firearms in New York.
Note: New York is one of the few states that hold a database consisting of individuals that are deemed too mentally unstable to own a firearm. This database currently has over 40,000 individual names listed on it, most of which have been hospitalized and or reported by a health official or psychiatric doctor.