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November 30, 2023

The History of Background Checks

  • September 1, 2022
  • 4 min read
The History of Background Checks

Background checks have become increasingly common in the United States as a way to ensure the safety of employees, volunteers, and others. Today, a variety of businesses and organizations rely on background checks to help them make informed decisions about the people they hire or work with. Keep reading to learn more about the history of background checks and how they’ve become an essential part of many organizations’ hiring processes.

What is a background check?

Background checks are a process that employers use to check an employee’s criminal history, credit score, and other personal information. Employers typically use a third-party company to conduct a background check because these companies have access to national databases. The reason employers use background checks is to reduce the risk of hiring someone who may have a criminal history, may not be able to be trusted with company information, or maybe a poor credit risk.

By using a background check, employers can get a more complete picture of an employee’s history and make a more informed decision about whether or not to hire them. Today, almost all employers conduct pre-employment screening; however, there is no standard way to conduct these screenings. Each company has its policies regarding what information it collects and how it uses that information. Many companies use Backgroundcheck.co, a website that provides comprehensive information on background checks and actual background checks for individuals and businesses.

What is the history of background checks?

Employers’ use of background checks began in the early 1900s when companies started using them to screen potential employees. In the early days, background checks were used to determine an individual’s eligibility for employment. Still, they are also used for other purposes, such as tenant screening and volunteer screening. The first known use of a background check was by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1902. The railroad hired a detective agency to conduct background checks on potential employees.

The agency conducted criminal record searches, credit reports, and reference checks. In 1917, the United States Department of Labor created the first standards for employment screenings. These standards included guidelines for conducting criminal record searches and credit reports. During World War II, the military began using background checks to screen potential recruits. After the war ended, many private companies started using them to screen employees.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a growing concern about crime rates, and employers began using background checks to screen potential employees for criminal records. By 1990, more than 80% of employers were conducting pre-employment screening.

What are the different types of background checks?


There are many different types of background checks that can be conducted on individuals. The most common background checks, besides criminal background checks, are credit checks, education background checks, and employment history checks. A credit check will reveal an individual’s credit score and history. Credit checks are often used by employers to screen potential employees, as well as by landlords to screen potential tenants. Employers can also check an employee’s credit score.

A credit score can give employers an idea of how responsible an employee is with money and if they are likely to default on any loans. Education background checks are used to determine an individual’s educational history. This information can be used to assess an individual’s skills and qualifications for a job or for further education. Employment history checks are used to determine an individual’s work history. This information can include the dates and types of employment, position titles, and the addresses of past employers.

Employment history checks are often used by potential employers as part of the screening process to determine an applicant’s suitability for a position.