Background Check Authorization Form Templates

There are multiple reasons why a background check needs to be performed. The most common reason that you may have encountered before, is during the hiring process. Many organizations will want to complete a background check on a potential employee to help them to be as informed as possible for their final decision. A recent survey suggests that as many as 50% of candidates lie in interviews and on their resume; a background check can help determine if that is the case.

Other cases where a background check can occur include:
• Renting your home
• Hiring a care giver/nanny/housekeeper
• Starting a business venture with a partner

Background Check Laws

If you want to complete a background check on someone, you need to get their signed permission first. Completing a background check on someone who hasn’t given permission is a violation of Federal law.

If you are using a third party to obtain your background checks such as a consumer-reporting agency, you’ll need to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). FCRA rules state that employers must disclose to applicants that a consumer report may be obtained, this is to be done before the report is requested.

When disclosing this information you must ensure you are providing a “clear and conspicuous” disclosure, in a document that consists solely of the disclosure, as per FCRA guidelines.

Using an authorization form show that the person in question has accepted and allowed the employer to conduct a background check. This prevents them from coming back in the future with a lawsuit claiming an ‘Invasion of Privacy’.

A background check can look at different things depending on what it is required for. Most commonly check are work history, criminal records and financial history. The authorization form makes the applicant aware that any of these can be checked, should they agree to sign the form.

Authorization Form Contents

As explained above, the authorization form must include a clear disclosure that a background check is required as a condition of employment.

Following this will be text on behalf of the applicant authorising the employer, as well as law enforcement agencies and/or private background check organisations to complete a background check.

The background check authorization form also needs to contain the following information about the applicant:
• Full Name (First, Middle & Last)
• Former Names & Dates the Former Name Was Used (If any)
• Current Address
• Previous Addresses & Dates of Residence (If any)
• Date of Birth
• Telephone Number
• Driver’s License Number (For positions that require vehicular use)
• Social Security Number

Authorization Form Templates

Download Template 1

Download Template 2

Criminal Background Check Authorization Form

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How Long Does A Background Check Take?


The time it takes for a background check to be carried out depends on many factors. One of the most significant factors is the type of check being carried out but other considerations can also affect the turnaround time. The complexity of the background check in terms of the volume of research a provider may have to undertake will directly affect the feedback time. Similarly, if they are dealing with particularly delicate checks, such as requesting sensitive information from a court of law, it may take longer for them to receive permission. Other delays can be caused by differing levels of cooperation from various contacted bodies; A major cause of delay can occur when non-governmental institutions are contacted for information (such as the applicant’s former school) because there are no strict time constraints within which these institutions must supply the information and/or they may have limited access to potentially incomplete records.

Despite the above, by far the most common delays are caused by failure on the employer’s part to gain proper authorization from the individual on whom they intend to perform the check. It is the law to attain such authorization before starting the background check process.

Regarding the following scenarios, beware of providers who offer an ‘instant’ check for criminal or employment background checks – these are not thorough background checks, often rely on incomplete data (that has been made available to the provider in a cheaply negotiated deal) and do not offer satisfactory depth of research to be relied upon. Tenant background checks are more likely to be turned around quickly but one should still be wary of a provider that returns it ‘instantly’ – they have likely not carried out sufficient checks. Read providers’ service documentation carefully – some offer conflicting advice even on the same webpage.

How Long Does A Criminal Background Check Take?

A: Most reputable background check providers will deliver a criminal background check within three business days.

Criminal background checks tend to be the most sensitive category of check. Partly this is borne by the fact that many human resources departments won’t even consider an applicant with a criminal record but also people are often highly embarrassed by and defensive of their criminal history. Most reputable background check providers will turn around a criminal background check within three business days but they can be delayed for numerous reasons. The forms of authorization provided by the potential employer must be thorough, signed in full, and permit criminal background checks specifically. Without the proper authorization the provider will (and should) reject the documentation and request completed authorization, which will of course delay the process.

Most frequently, criminal background checks are centred around a county court criminal search. These are usually straightforward but depending on the state/county laws and on the individual in question, courts may demand for the search to be carried out internally; that is by employees of the county court in question rather than by the background check provider. This of course can cause delays, especially if the court has a backlog of sensitive checks it needs to process or if it’s a particularly busy time of year for employment.

Of course, most background checks are routine and turn up nothing but delays can also occur when a background check actually returns a negative result. Rather than cutting the process short and returning the results immediately, a reputable background check provider will usually research the findings more thoroughly to ensure their validity before responding to the client (the company/body requesting the background check). This can include further research into results of proceedings or indeed into the dates and times of the alleged incidents. If the provider finds a criminal history outside of the county court search, they will at a minimum need to verify the findings with the courts, which of course can cause delays for the same reasons outlined above.

Finally, criminal background checks may take longer depending on the industry the potential employer is operates within. For example, jobs that involve contact or care for minors or vulnerable people absolutely require mandatory sex offender register checks, whereas other industries may not. The more searches that need to be addressed, the higher the chance of a negative result and the more potential for delays.

How Long Does An Employment Background Check Take?

A: Employment background checks are very routine. Most providers will complete them, assuming nothing negative turns up, within three business days, and often sooner.

As with all background checks, applicant or employer documentation mistakes cause the most delays but there are other factors that affect their turnaround time. Sometimes, when your background check provider contacts a previous employer of the applicant, they can be slow to respond. This can either be for legitimate reasons, such as as busy period or understaffing or simply because the previous employer is not very organized! It is even possible that the applicant is in direct contact/is friendly with the previous employer and has asked them to delay.

Similarly, when contacting previous schools or educational facilities of the applicant, it’s very possible that the background check is being performed during school holidays and so no one is available to retrieve the information. Also a common factor with educational facilities is that they are simply understaffed. When a school does reply promptly with an applicant’s education history, the data can often be incomplete, poorly collected or contain missing incident information; when this happens, delays are likely because the background check provider will likely have to investigate further to obtain accurate records, e.g. by speaking with members of staff.

How Long Does A Tenant Background Check Take?

A: Tenancy background checks are relatively straightforward. For this reason, many tenant background check providers offer a twenty four hour turnaround service.

In reality, getting hold of the relevant persons in this time frame can prove taxing but should a provider manage it, tenant background checks can be turned around even quicker than this, often in a matter of hours. Landlords frequently make the mistake of selecting ‘instant’ services when it comes to tenant background checks in order to cut overheads. Very often they are a false economy; instant checks are rarely if ever reviewed by an FCRA Certified Screener. As a result inaccurate, ineligible, outdated or unauthorized information is much more likely to appear in the check results supplied.

Background Checks With Social Security Numbers (SSNs)


This page is designed to provide all you need to know about Social Security Numbers when it comes to background checks. Social Security Numbers are issued to U.S. citizens, those with permanent resident status in the U.S. and to those who are temporary residents and have employment. When carrying out a background check with a social security number, there are some subtle differences that can make the background checks more reliable and more efficient but it does not necessarily ensure a more comprehensive search.

Tenant Background Check With Social Security Number

Having a Social Security Number makes running tenant background checks easy and they are routinely carried out by landlords before taking on new tenants. It is commonplace across most of the U.S. to perform credit checks as part of a tenant background check and to do so against an individual’s Social Security Number. However, there are many state-dependent laws surrounding tenant screening. In some states, such as California, landlords are prevented entirely from questioning or requiring proof of a prospective tenant’s citizenship/legal residency status and they must seek alternative means of background testing, such as personal references or independent proof of income. It is not impossible to run a credit check against a tenant with no Social Security Number but they are often rejected just on name and address, largely because they may not even exist yet.

Employment Background Check With Social Security Number

A valid Social Security Number submitted with an application is an excellent indication of authenticity and will return precise and accurate results specific to that individual. Furthermore, the very validity of the Social Security Number is checked as part of the process, offering the employer additional protection and confidence in the employee. It’s possible to perform an employment background check without a Social Security Number but it can cause delays identifying and verifying individuals with name and address only.

Criminal Background Check With Social Security Number

Criminal records are usually specifically not associated with Social Security Numbers for privacy reasons. In theory a Social Security Number should make no difference when performing a criminal background check, especially for county court searches. However, some Federal/national offences are indeed logged against Social Security Numbers. You should discuss this with your background check provider to ensure the searches suitable for your industry are part of the service that you have chosen.

Performing Background Checks Without A Social Security Number

It is still possible to run backgrounds against people without a Social Security Number. Usually these are referred to as ‘trace searches’ and often they are just as effective as running a check with a Social Security Number. Providing a Social Security Number does make running background checks easier, more efficient and more reliable but usually without one it is as effective to run one against last name and address, proving these details are accurate. Actually most types of criminal history are not associated with a Social Security Number anyway and so would have to be looked up as part of a wider criminal background check with the same name and address information mentioned above.