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How To Read A Criminal Background Report
There are many ways to obtain criminal background reports – from Internet searches to myriad companies.

Employers who order criminal background checks on prospective employees should know that the accuracy of such records varies widely. Even the best companies’ background checks contain errors. Errors occur when social security numbers get transposed during data entry; when names, addresses and dates of birth get mistyped; and when identities get confused.

In a study, Shawn Bushway, a criminologist at the University of Maryland gathered the criminal records of 120 current parolees in Virginia and submitted their names to an online employee-screening company. Sixty-four of the names came back displaying no criminal record at all. That's a more than 50% error rate.

Interpreting language on criminal history report is difficult. It’s best to ask for assistance in determining what exactly the background check means.

Click here for an explanation of some Common Terms Found on Background Reports.

Made possible by a grant from The Open Society Institute-Baltimore