Job applicants often disclose criminal convictions during the application process. It may seem logical that we can include the disclosed record in our background reports. After all, we are simply verifying what the subject already disclosed, right?
Actually, it’s wrong. The subject’s disclosure of a criminal conviction does not affect our reporting obligations under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) or similar state laws. Our background reports must always comply with these laws regardless of what is disclosed to us. Under the FCRA, convictions can appear in a report regardless of when they occurred. Most states follow this rule, but several do not. California, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, New York, New Hampshire, and Washington, all limit the reporting of a criminal conviction to seven years after the conviction occurred. The District of Columbia sets a 10-year reporting limit.