Fingerprinting versus Criminal Background Checks

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP
August 18 2016
Law enforcement makes their living catching bad guys, but that doesn’t always leave enough time to keep up with the paperwork. The fractured nature of the criminal justice system tends to leave a lot of gaps in record-keeping, particularly when it comes to fingerprinting.


Fingerprinting is Not a Gold Standard

Fingerprint checks are not an accurate source for criminal information and are rife with collection and reporting problems.

  • Fingerprint searches require a complex and segmented process, and they often can’t be provided countrywide for employment purposes. According to the FBI, which provides fingerprinting results, “An FBI-approved Channeler cannot process a request for employment and/or licensing purposes within the United States. This type of request should be coordinated with the appropriate state identification bureau (or state police) for the correct procedures.”
  • Not all state or county criminal records have a fingerprint recorded, although a fingerprint is necessary for the file to be included in the FBI’s database.
  • State and local authorities also tend to be “extremely irregular” in the timeliness of their reports to the FBI, according to the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA).
  • Fingerprinting cannot be added to your screening process with any cohesiveness. You will often have to rely on your candidate to complete the complicated process on their own, and provide accurate information back to you.
  • Each state has different rules on fingerprint collection for employment, and some states don’t even allow that use.

Companies that don’t need fingerprinting, but request it for their screening service, have often been misinformed by minimal or inaccurate research. Each of the issues identified above contributes to an incomplete picture of your candidate at a higher cost and longer time-to-hire.


Criminal Record Searches Are Fast, Comprehensive, and Accurate

A criminal history search from an accredited screening company like InfoMart presents a much more informative and secure source from which to make hiring decisions. Our criminal history searches check for felony and misdemeanor arrests and/or convictions of any applicant, as well as case numbers, dispositions, case dates, sentences, and felony/misdemeanor classifications. This information is searched at the county, state, and federal level, and international searches are also available.

Common identifiers for verifying criminal records on all levels include name and date of birth and social security number (SSN), as available. Criminal searches performed by an FCRA-compliant background screening company use these parameters and others to retrieve accurate information that can be used in a hiring decision.

If you’re considering using fingerprint checks to ensure you’ve done your due diligence on your applicants and employees, keep in mind that criminal records checks can be completed in less time, for a lower cost, and with greater accuracy. They also provide more information that is both accurate and compliant to use in your employment decisions.

Get the Whole Story, not just the FBI version, on your applicants.

Criminal Databases: How accurate are they?

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record.

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

Pin It on Pinterest