Common Background Check Terminology

Pre-employment background screenings play an important role in smart hiring practices, helping shield your organization from potential consequences including financial losses and damage to your professional reputation.

If you’re considering incorporating comprehensive background screenings into your hiring process, you may experience challenges understanding some background check terminology. A professional background screening firm such as Global Verification Network can guide hiring managers through the array of terminology and provide in-depth explanations to help you make informed decisions.

What are some background check definitions to understand as you begin conducting screenings with a professional provider?

  • • Adverse actions refer to procedures employers must follow if their decision about a candidate has been influenced by problematic information uncovered in a background check.


  • • Authorization must be provided by candidates, also referred to as consumers, before background screenings are conducted. Candidates must provide written consent by signing a disclosure agreement.


  • • Consumer reports are another name for background check reports. Depending on the specific types of information requested, consumer reports may include payment and credit histories, criminal and driving records, employment history and educational credentials.


  • • Credit reports include an overview of an applicant’s credit history and typically provide details such as outstanding balances on loans and credit cards, bankruptcies, liens, judgments and other financial events. Credit reporting agencies compile the information and provide the reports, which can be used in hiring decisions.


  • • Criminal history reports include information such as criminal charges and convictions, types of offenses and time since any convictions. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) suggests that employers provide candidates with an opportunity to explain any criminal history before making hiring decisions.


  • • Education verification services as part of a comprehensive background screening provide information including diplomas or degrees earned, certifications, educational institutions attended, credit hours earned and areas of study.


  • • End users are parties requesting reports from credit reporting agencies. Hiring managers, employers, landlords and others may act as end users requesting background information.


  • • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the gathering and use of credit information about individuals. Credit reporting agencies are required to abide by this federal law when they give background information to end users. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides oversight of legal compliance by credit reporting agencies.


  • • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) guides financial institutions in developing their pre-employment screening processes. Federal law prohibits FDIC institutions from hiring individuals who have committed certain financial crimes.


  • • Negligent hiring lawsuits may occur when employers fail to conduct their due diligence, including thorough pre-employment background screenings, and an employee causes harm such as personal injury or property damage to a third party.


  • • A Summary of Rights is a document provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlining consumers’ rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The document is included when end users send copies of reports to consumers. The rights detailed include permissible uses of the included information and the process for disputes.


Global Verification Network provides comprehensive background screening services to hiring managers, employers and others requiring reliable information for making sound hiring decisions. To learn more about our services or to request a quote, please contact Global Verification Network.