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How Far Back Do Background Checks Go In New York

Drafting An Offer Letter

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Once an employer has decided to extend an offer of employment to an applicant, many use offer letters to communicate key terms of employment for the candidates consideration. Offer letters are a valuable tool in setting expectations and creating a relationship with a prospective employee. If not carefully drafted, however, offer letters can also be construed as an employment contract or agreement for a fixed term of employment, creating unintended obligations on the employers behalf. In New York, the default employment relationship is at will, meaning that either the employee or the employer can terminate the relationship at any time, with or without cause and with or without notice. To preserve this relationship status while accurately describing employment terms, employers should observe the following basic requirements when drafting offer letters:

What to Include in an Offer Letter:

What to Avoid in an Offer Letter:

  • Language that implies that employment will be for a fixed term or that contemplates an indefinite future of employment

  • Language that implies that the offer letter is a contract for continued employment and

  • Promises of future earnings or guaranteed bonuses.

How Far Back Does A Background Check Go 8 Nov 2017

Best practice is to always get background checks for employment purposes. They help provide employers with critical information to make the right hiring decisions. One common question that employers and applicants have is how far back a background check goes.

A year? 10 years? The applicants entire life?

A background check time frame varies depending on many factors. Most SMBs, nonprofits, and volunteer organizations hire a reporting agency like Trusted Employees to conduct employment criminal background checks. This provides peace of mind that all local and federal legislation and restrictions are followed accurately so there are no violations.


Background checks for employment done by reporting agencies must follow strict Fair Credit Reporting Act rules. For example, even if youre located in a state that allows full credit checks for employment purposes, you still need to follow FCRA limits on what can be reported. Some of those limits include:

  • Bankruptcies cannot be reported after 10 years.
  • Tax liens cannot be reported seven years after payment.
  • Accounts in collection cannot be reported after seven years.
  • Civil suits and civil judgments cannot be reported after seven years.

There are many nuances to consider as well. One to be aware of is that these limits only apply to people who make less than $75,000 per year. Once you surpass that annual salary, the restrictions lift and employers can look back further at the details of your credit report.

How You Should Use The 7

You can use the 7 year criminal background check rule in employment to keep your clients safe and ensure that you are doing business in an honest way. Employment screening is vital for most businesses, and for some it is even more crucial than others. For example, if a position is working with children or vulnerable young people. In some scenarios, you may be able to check further back than the 7-years, depending on location and job role.

Remember that there is a difference between a conviction and an arrest. Someone could have been wrongfully accused or arrested. It might be worth allowing someone to explain their past if something shows up that concerns you, rather than just dismissing the application.

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Why Might The Records That Appear On The Report Be Different From The Lookback Period

There can be limitations in the age of the publicly available records. Each court jurisdiction maintains their records based on their own procedures, so the records that are available can vary depending on the court. For example, some county courts might only provide only 7-10 years of record information, while other county courts provide much older records.

There are also rules that affect what records can be reported on a background check. For example, there are rules for reporting convictions vs. dismissed records, or records that were ultimately expunged or sealed.

Some states limit the searching or reporting of criminal record information to seven years depending on the candidate, job, or employer/partner location. That means that even if the search looks for records going back indefinitely, only records from the last seven years can appear on a report. States that generally have a seven-year limitation include:

  • California

Does A Felony Or Misdemeanor Always Show Up On The Background Check

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Yes, a felony will always come up, there is no way to hide it, unless you have your records expunged.

If an employer is running specifically a criminal record background check, it usually reports misdemeanors, felony level crimes, sex crimes, as well as legally reportable none-convictions. Moreover, the employer will also be able to see your incarceration records, as well as previous drug test records.

Keep in mind, that in most states even pending charges will show up on a background check. The state of Arkansas is an exception misdemeanor charges will not show up on your records, but any pending charges still will. Also, note that pending charges show up in a particular county. So if an employer only runs a background check for a specific county, but your crime has taken place in a different county, those charges will NOT SHOW UP.

However, this is a very rare scenario, because now days most employers run very thorough background checks to avoid exactly this kind of situation, and make sure that they are not missing any important information on the candidate.

While this may see very scary, and completely ruin your chances of getting a job, its good to know this ahead of time. If you know that a prospective boss will see this information about you, it gives you the chance to mentally prepare yourself for any of his questions and come up with good answers to explain what happened.

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Is Your Background Check Process Thorough Enough

Okay. You know how far back you can go. Now, how far back should you go? The correct answer often depends upon an employees role. For instance, if someone is working with children or the elderly, youll want as much information about their criminal records as possible. However, if youre hiring a salesclerk, a 7-year criminal record lookback probably is enough.

Does A Credit Check For An Apartment Hurt Your Credit

Applying for an an apartment wont hurt your credit if theres no credit check in the process. The application also wont hurt your credit score if the landlord uses a service that does a soft credit check. 3 You can ask the landlord for their process to find out whether theres a credit review involved.

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How To Do Your Background Check

There are steps to doing a background check on someone. Heres how to do a background check the right way:

  • Determine the type of check thatll give you the details you need.
  • Ensure that you follow applicable federal or state laws.
  • Sometimes there may be inaccuracies be sure to double-check the result. So, consider using more than one search method.
  • Don’t query too many questions about someone’s personal life that are not job-related
  • Never do a background check on someone without written consent.
  • How Do I Get A New York State Background Check


    In New York, individuals can request copies of their own New York state police records from the Division of Criminal Justice Services. However, this is a personal records review and is not used for employment background checks.

    Employers that want to complete a New York criminal records search must instead send requests through the New York Office of Court Administration. The use of this system is based on an exact date-of-birth and name match. This type of report will only show pending cases and convictions within the state of New York.

    Getting information from the court system will not reveal other important data for employment background checks, including employment or educational records. It also will not show convictions from other states and jurisdictions, and data from villages and towns will be limited.

    If you search online, you might discover providers that advertise free background checks in New York. However, you should steer clear of these websites and providers.

    Information provided by these types of providers is often inaccurate, outdated, and not FCRA-compliant. If you rely on this type of information to make hiring decisions, your business could be at risk of fines and legal liability.

    Free public records in New York may also provide you with information you are prohibited from using for hiring purposes.

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    Whats Included In The Scope Of A County Criminal Search

    Most of the United States 3,000+ counties make their records publicly accessible dating back at least seven years. Here publicly accessible means the records are available to be searched through a digital Public Access Terminal , a year-by-year index, or with assistance from a court clerk.

    A common lookback period for county criminal court searches is to search for possible records that date back the last seven years, although in most states, a company may request searches that look for records beyond seven years.

    How Far Back Does A Criminal Background Check Go

    Criminal background checks are a whole different story. Criminal background checks arent limited by a federal act. This means that you could potentially see convictions that happened 50 years ago. While this is beneficial to you as a business owner, it can also create biases against otherwise good candidates.

    How can this happen? Imagine that a background report reveals that an older applicant committed a crime when they were 18. This is the only red flag on their background report and since committing the crime theyve proven themselves to be a reliable employee and well-adjusted person. Will you let this single red flag stop you from hiring them?

    This decision is yours alone. But, you shouldnt immediately dismiss the application based on this offense. Instead, you should follow fair hiring rules and regulations and determine whether or not this conviction will affect their eligibility for the role.

    Depending on the level of responsibility or the type of conviction you might decide to overlook the conviction and hire them anyway. By thinking carefully through this decision, youll benefit from a broader pool of talent than those at other companies.

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    Why Do Employers Order Background Checks

    Employers order background checks as part of their due diligence when employing someone new. In many industries, it is seen as utterly essential. Employers might take the option to directly ask employees or candidates whether they have anything to disclose, but the background check makes it more likely they will see information about any previous issues or indescrepencies with their application.

    Federal And New York Laws Provide Some Protections For Applicants With Criminal Records

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    An estimated 65 million Americans have a criminal record. If you are one of them, you might be in for a difficult job search. Surveys show that a majority of employers a whopping 92%, according to one recent survey check criminal records when hiring, at least for some jobs. If a prospective employer finds out that you have an arrest or conviction record, you might find it difficult to compete in today’s tight job market.

    Job seekers with criminal records have some legal rights. Federal and state laws place some limits on how employers can use these records in making job decisions. New York law gives applicants a number of protections in this situation, too.

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    How Long Does A Background Check Take In New York

    Many New York state employment background checks can be completed within one day, but turnaround times also vary based on the scope and type of screening and the accessibility of the data.

    Screenings may take longer if the information needed isnt digitized or available online. The New York State Office of Court Administration maintains a searchable database of cases from certain local civil courts, Civil Supreme Court cases from all 62 counties, and selected New York State Courts. However, some court records checks may require contacting a specific court by mail or visiting in person.

    New York state background checks can require navigating a complex court system. New York City alone has supreme civil courts, supreme criminal courts, civil courts, and criminal courts. Outside New York City, there are supreme, county, district, city, town, and village courtsmany of which dont make online records available. Working with a consumer reporting agency , like GoodHire, can simplify this legal maze and speed your background check process.

    When using GoodHire, checks of nationwide criminal databases, the nationwide sex offender registry, statewide criminal records, and county criminal records that show no records average just minutes or hours to complete. When screenings return records , GoodHires FCRA-certified quality assurance team manually reviews and cross-references the data to verify accuracy. Checks that return alerts still average less than a week for turnaround time.

    What Employees Should Know About Background Checks

    While there are numerous protections in place for employees and prospective hires, there are some things they should be aware of. Employers may employ an exemption to the Fair Chance Act if federal and state laws require background checks due to the nature of the job opening. This mainly relates to financial, law enforcement, or city government jobs. However, employers carry the burden of proof for qualifying for these exemptions.

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    How Much Does A Background Check Cost In New York

    If you send a request through the New York Office of Court Administration, you will have to pay a fee of $95 per report. However, the information you might receive will only include New York state criminal history information and will not include out-of-state conviction records or other important information you need for employment purposes.

    If you try to gather all of the relevant background check information on your own, you will have to send multiple requests to different institutions, agencies, and employers. This could be a time-consuming process that could cost substantial amounts of money.

    Relying on websites that promise free pre-employment background check reports in New York could expose you to substantial losses through lawsuits and penalties.

    The best method for gathering information is to work with a reputable, FCRA-compliant pre-employment background check company like iprospectcheck.

    When you partner with us, you can choose the types of specific information you need for your positions by tailoring your requests.

    We offer packages at different price levels, many other types of reports, and a menu of clinical services, including pre-employment drug tests.

    If you plan to order pre-employment background checks at volume, you can also benefit from significant discounts. Contact iprospectcheck today to learn more and obtain a free, no-obligation quote.

    Get A New York Background Check With Goodhire

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    Background checks have become a vital step in making informed hiring decisions. New York States many laws regulating employment screenings can make it challenging to find and review the information you need, while remaining legally compliant. Using a trusted, third party provider, like GoodHire, can simplify the process.

    GoodHires more than 100 screening options provide a comprehensive and FCRA-compliant suite of services for your background check needs. Our easy-to-use platform is built to optimize speed and data accuracy, with automated features built in to streamline compliance. To learn more about background checks with GoodHire, reach out to our sales team.

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    New York State Background Check Laws

    In September 2015, the New York governor declared that New York would adopt fair chance hiring for New York State agencies, meaning that job applicants for positions with state agencies would not be required to disclose information about prior convictions until they have been interviewed and the agency has expressed an interest in hiring the candidate.

    This fair-chance hiring policy was originally part of a package of recommendations made by the Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration. Which was created by the governor in 2014. New York law precludes employers from inquiring about or taking adverse action in response to charges or arrests that didnt result in convictions.

    Furthermore, New York law prohibits employers or licensing agencies from taking adverse action based on conviction history unless past criminal offenses are directly related to the specific job or license being sought. The EEOC criteria are applied in an individualized assessment of an individuals background.

    Types Of Checks And Their Lookback Period

    The first variable that will influence the lookback timeline of a check is the type of check that the employer is conducting. Category-by-category rules vary depending on location, and employers should always check their state laws before designing a pre-employment screen policy. Background investigation providers, including, also keep track of these laws and can assist employers in complying.

    Here is an overview of common length restrictions with different background checks:

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    The 7 Year Background Check

    The 7-year rule is a federal law which prohibits all arrest records, paid tax liens, civil suits and civil judgments that took place over 7 years ago from being included in a background investigation. All states must adhere to this rule.

    Background check regulations in California, Kentucky and New York go even further.

    Bottom Line: they state that except for pending charges, non-convictions are not to appear on your background checks at all. The 7-year rule does not cover criminal convictions in many states.

    Nationally, the FCRA regulations governs how and when background checks can be used in hiring decisions.

    Some states may also have additional guidelines and requirements related to the 7-year rule.

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