What’s the Difference Between Federal and Multi-state Background Checks? 25 May 2018


If you’re a business owner, then you know the importance of hiring trustworthy employees. Checking potential employees’ criminal background before hiring can save your company time and money, and protect your employees. It’s a no-brainer, or at least it should be.

However, if you do a quick Google search for “background screening companies,” you’ll be bombarded with tons of different companies (about 6,530,000 results at the time of writing this article) offering different types of background checks. When you run into everything from social media to motor vehicle record searches; how do you decide what your company needs?

Since not all screenings are created equal, let’s look at two of the most common background checks that employers want: the federal and multi-state background checks. These checks look into the criminal history of the applicant, but they can both bring back very different results. Knowing what each screening offers will ensure that your company doesn’t miss any important details.

Federal Employment Background Checks

A federal criminal background check will show you if an applicant has committed any crimes at the federal level or on federal land. It won’t show you any crimes that were prosecuted at the state or county level. If the applicant moved around to try and cover up their federal crime, it will still show up on this report, since it isn’t affected by state or county lines.

  • Some crimes that the federal background check will show include:
  • Possession and distribution of drugs
  • Illegal Possession of Firearms
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Embezzlement
  • Tax evasion
  • Counterfeiting
  • and other major felonies

Federal criminal history won’t show up on state and county background checks. Therefore, it’s important to screen your applicant at the federal level. After all, your employees’ safety, your company’s safety, and your personal safety are at risk.

Imagine you hire an employee that has been convicted of distributing drugs. They may fall back into this pattern and start selling drugs to your employees. Not only would this negatively impact the morale and productivity of your employees, but it could also lead to mass dismissals.

While the previous example may be a little extreme, the point is to show the snowball effect that a bad hire could have on your company. Especially since it could have been avoided if you ran a federal background check on your prospective employees.

State & Multi-state Employment Background Checks

State background checks examine the available records from the state’s official criminal history repository. There you can find crimes committed at the state and county level for that particular state. Not all states make county criminal records available. To make sure your results are thorough, you’ll want to run a state background check for each state in which the applicant has resided.

A multi-state database would include online database information from many different states, but the information included by the state can vary vastly. Unfortunately, not every state in the U.S. has an electronic database, so the data provided on a multi-state background check will vary from state to state. The data may vary from a misdemeanor to felony records to only showing the incarceration records. Since most crimes are committed at the state and county levels, and America now has roughly the same number people with criminal records as it does four-year college graduates, it’s crucial that employers work with a background check service that knows the ins and outs of criminal record searches.

As an employer, you are responsible for the safety of your employees. What better way to lower the risk of incidents than checking your applicant’s criminal history?

Choosing the Right Background Check Service

How to choose the right background check service.

A superficial background check just doesn’t cut it anymore. Before you buy a background check, you need to know exactly what each report includes and how thorough the company is. Surprisingly, some leading background check companies don’t screen for child abuse and sex offenders by checking the sex offender registry.

There are literally hundreds of options for running your background checks. But, none of these options are a true one-size-fits-all. Thankfully, Trusted Employees offers something even better than one-size-fits-all. We offer tailor-made packages that fit your industry. Our experts work with you to create custom background checks that address all of your needs and concerns. If you want a streamlined approach to background screening, contact us today!