Amid the wide variety of background checking tools available to employers, fingerprinting has become significantly more popular within the last few years. Fingerprinting is the latest fad in the ongoing attempt to come up with “one-stop” shopping for background checks. The point to keep in mind is that the FBI fingerprint data base is incomplete!
It’s important to remember that fingerprints are only taken at the time of an arrest, and an arrest is not the same thing as a conviction – and even if a match comes up there seldom is any information about the disposition of the charge in something like half of the cases. In other words, just because there’s a match in the FBI fingerprint data base does not mean that the individual was ever convicted of anything!
Another point to keep in mind is that not every state reports criminal information to the FBI, which, once again, proves the point that a “national” data base is only as good as the information that is sent to it by the states, and that state data bases are only as good as the information sent to them by the counties in each state—and many don’t!
Fingerprinting can be a useful part of a background and reference check under the right circumstances, but fingerprinting alone isn’t going to be enough to demonstrate that reasonable care was used in the employee selection process.