background check authorization form

What is a Background Check Authorization Form?

Last updated on May 11, 2021

Going through the job application process can be quite a challenging task with many hurdles to overcome. The most terrifying thing is probably the moment you realize that your potential employer is going to start digging into your past. What many people don’t know is that employment checks are more common than ever with a majority of employers conducting them.

Before panic truly sets in, you should know that you will be given a background check authorization form in order for your employer to get consent to run a background check on you. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about background check authorization forms and what they might mean for future employment.

What is a Background Check Authorization Form?

A background check authorization form is basically the written consent for a background check needed by your potential employer. If you are asked to fill one out, chances are that you are one of the few people that the company is seriously considering hiring. While it can be somewhat scary at first, it is actually a good thing.

An employment background check will be used by your future employer to find out whether what you’re claiming on your resume is in fact, true and whether or not there is something about you that they should be aware of prior to hiring you. Often these checks are also referred to as background screenings or pre-employment screenings.

Background checks are normally conducted by an external company or in-house by the HR department. Small businesses might not have the time to conduct their own searched which is why they rely on third-party companies to do so.

Why do Employers Need to Request this Form From Potential Employees?

If you are running a business, you will certainly want to hire the right person for the job at hand. Think about it, if you spend a third of your day in the office you would hope that your colleagues are professionals. Your future co-workers have probably already been through this process which means you will likely be surrounded by people that will not cause you trouble in the office.

HireRight conducted a survey that found that as many as 85% of applicants lied on their resume. This is a staggering amount that can lead to many problems including risks to the physical health of colleagues and customers.

To create a successful team, business owners will be forced to make quick and effective decisions when it comes to hiring people, which is where a pre-employment screening comes in.

Prior to performing a background check, an employer has to notify the applicant in writing, explaining that the results of the background check will be used for purposes including hiring, promoting or retention.

Employers are required by law to do this as background checks contain sensitive and private information which might affect your chances of getting the job. Any company that fails to get consent from candidates are opening themselves up to potential legal trouble.

You should know your right when it comes to pre-employment background checks. The following is a summary of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

“The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. There are many types of consumer reporting agencies, including credit bureaus and specialty agencies (such as agencies that sell information about check writing histories, medical records, and rental history records).

You must be told if information in your file has been used against you. Anyone who uses a credit report or another type of consumer report to deny your application for credit, insurance, or employment – or to take another adverse action against you – must tell you, and must give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that provided the information.

You have the right to know what is in your file. You may request and obtain all the information about you in the files of a consumer reporting agency (your file disclosure). You will be required to provide proper identification, which may include your Social Security number. In many cases, the disclosure will be free. You are entitled to a free file disclosure if: a person has taken adverse action against you because of information in your credit report, you are the victim of identity theft and place a fraud alert in your file, your file contains inaccurate information as a result of fraud, you are on public assistance, or you are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days.”

Employment checks can include the following:

  • Checking whether or not you have a criminal record history and if you have any convictions
  • Confirming your education record (includes grades and attendance)
  • Employment records (whether you were employed by the organizations you wrote on your resume)
  • Checking your credit history (examining a possible negative credit history or bankruptcies)
  • Motor vehicle records and licenses (includes information about your driver’s license, dates, and validity of any other professional licenses you might need)
  • Civil records

It should be noted that checking your credit history should only be done when this information can affect your line of work. This includes any form of money handling or if you might be advising people regarding their finances.

The fair Credit Reporting Act has standards as to which information is able to be screened, and when, meaning it will prevent the employer from seeing information regarding:

  • Bankruptcies that have been filed after ten years
  • Civil suits, arrest records and civil judgments after seven years
  • Any tax liens which have been paid
  • Accounts that have been placed for collection after seven years

While not all of your information might turn up, it should be noted that some restrictions do not apply to external companies. If there is a third party performing a background check, they are able to get ahold of much more information. Also, the restrictions mentioned are not applicable to positions that have a salary in excess of $75,000.

You should also read and acknowledge the Disclosure Regarding Background Investigation, which shouldn’t have anything else added to it like a liability waiver or application effectiveness periods otherwise you can expose yourself to class actions.

“(Name of company) may obtain information about you from a third party consumer reporting agency for employment purposes. Thus, you may be the subject of a consumer report and/or and investigative consumer report, which may include information about your character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and/or mode of living, and which can involve personal interview with sources such as your neighbors, friends, or associates. These reports may contain information regarding your criminal history, motor vehicle records (driving records), verification of your education or employment history, or other background checks.

You have the right, upon written request made within a reasonable time, to request whether a consumer report has been run about you, and disclosure of the nature and scope of any investigative consumer report and to request a copy of your report. Please be advised that the nature and scope of the most common form of an investigative consumer report is an employment history or verification. The scope of this disclosure is all-encompassing, however, allowing the Company to obtain from any outside organization all manner of consumer reports throughout the course of your employment to the extent permitted by law.”

There is also information that can only be accessed by the employer after a job offer has been made to you. This includes workers’ compensation, which can only be viewed once you have gotten the job. Your employer will never be able to see your voting records or any political affiliation unless of course, you broadcast this information on your social media profiles.

How Can Employees Request Consent for Background Checks in a Professional Way?

An employment background check will have to follow a certain procedure which will include the opportunity for you to respond to the reports.

The checking of your records will take place in the latter stages of the hiring process and is often conducted prior to the employer offering you the position in question. Most employers will make a job offer on the one condition that you pass the screening.

As the employer prepares to embark on the screening process, they will inform you and ask you to provide consent. This written consent is essential to consent for the upcoming employment check or the potential employer will be unable to complete the report. You should know that refusing the background check might also remove you from the shortlist of candidates.

The best way that an employer can request a background check is to give you a consent form and let you know why this is happening. The consent form should have an explanation of exactly what will be checked. Should you have any questions, you should contact HR who will be able to provide you with more information regarding the check as well as being let you know what information will be looked at.

If you decide to comply with a background check, you will normally have to provide your potential employer with the following details:

  • Your date of birth
  • Your address
  • Your social security number
  • Your driver’s license

Be sure to double-check that the information you have provided is correct and legible as one simple error or spelling mistake might lead to a much longer investigation. Even worse, it might result in incorrect information which might prolong the process.

When the research has been conducted and the report created, you will be notified with the results. There will also be information in regard to the results so you can always ask for a copy of the report.

If you are denied the position based on the background check you will be notified of this as well as having the option to dispute the decision.

How to Prevent Disqualification Due to a Failed Background Check

There are always steps that you can take to prevent being denied the job position in question due to the findings from your background check.

The first is never to lie on your resume. Claiming to have a degree from Harvard, when you really attended a lesser-known college is one of the worst things that you can do on your resume.

The background screening will weed out the lies including changing dates of your employment or adding duties that simply were never part of the role. Include details of the institutions, publications or employers that you worked for and make sure all names and dates are correct to ensure you are not flagged by the background check.

Not only will this come up quickly on a background check, but this can also be discovered by the people that will potentially be working with you. If it happened in a Kansas high school where student journalists discovered their principal had lied regarding her educational credentials, it can happen to you.

Your pre-employment background check will not only monitor things like a possible criminal record but will also look at your online presence. Social media is often one of the platforms that people use to relay any of their opinions as well as images taken on their downtime. This is also the first place a potential employer looks when you’re a potential candidate.

If you really want this position, make sure to keep your private life private, and never post angry things directed at past employers. Maintain a polished, professional look at all times.

Do a Background Check on Yourself

One of the best ways to prepare for a background check in order to see what turns up is to conduct one on yourself. The third parties that help employers in their decision making often offer up their services to individuals as well. The best services will require some sort of payment so you can see exactly what your employer sees.

For example, if a traffic violation comes up that happened years ago, which you had forgotten, it will be much easier to discuss it with your employer if you know it will come up. Owning up to past mistakes will show that you take responsibility for your actions and own up to mistakes. This means that you will likely do the same in your new workplace and not throw the blame on someone else. A lot of the times it’s not about the situation, but how you handle it will be telling to the employer as to your character.

It is also good to remember that small violations will most likely not result in rejection. Obviously, nobody will care if you have a parking violation to your name. This is a one-time offense which isn’t related to your job, and probably something that your employer will not give a second thought to.

This is something that is particularly relevant if you are the perfect candidate in all other aspects. Unless you gave a serious criminal offense on your record, an employment screening is not something to lose sleep over.

Instead, you should focus on performing the best you can on your job application. Do your research on the company and find out what will make you a great fit for the job at hand. If you do have something serious in your records, make sure to clear the air in your interview. This will help thwart any concerns the employer may have.

As a general rule of thumb, employers are looking at your pattern of behavior. If you have done a number of questionable things in your youth, the employer will likely overlook it if your more recent past has shown that you have stepped up to the mark and are on the straight and narrow.

On the other hand, if you lie on your resume, and your pre-employment screening comes up with some criminal offenses, then it will force the employer to question your character and whether they should hire you at all.


An employee background check is something that an increasing amount of employers are looking to in order to avoid negligent hiring and save on the costs of hiring the wrong person. With an excessive number of people stretching the truth or outright lying on their resumes, a background check is a tool that helps employers make better decisions during the hiring process.

If an employer wishes to perform one on you, they will need consent for a background check, which has to come in written form. There you will fill out information like your personal information needed for the background check to be complete.

Make sure to know your rights and use correct information so that the report doesn’t include incorrect information. Always remember that when an employer asks you to fill out a background check authorization form, you are clearly a front runner for the position at hand.

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