If you're applying for a professional license of any sort in California, you'll be asked to consent to a background check. That can be nerve-wracking -- especially if you aren't even sure what a background check does.
While the depth of one background check can vary from another -- some only go back a few years and some go back as far as the records will take the investigators -- you can generally expect the following information to be revealed:
- Your past residences
- Your educational history
- Your employment history
- A credit check
- The record of any bankruptcies, up to 10 years prior to the current date
- A review of your driving history, including any violations
- Any criminal records, excluding those that have been expunged
It's also important to understand that sometimes things slip into a background report when they shouldn't be there. For example, the Fair Credit Reporting Act is supposed to limit negative information older than a decade from appearing on your credit record. However, credit monitoring agencies are notorious for providing reports with collection information that should have expired, is already resolved or even just plain wrong. You can also run into unexpected trouble with sealed or expunged criminal records. Even though they shouldn't come up in a background check, they sometimes do.
That's why it's often wise for people seeking professional licenses to run their own background checks -- just to see what comes up in their record before they submit the application. If there's any possibility that you may face a problem with the licensing board over your past, you're far better off dealing with it before you put your application in than after. That way, you can try to correct errors, resolve reporting problems or address the board's likely concerns from the start.
If you need help with a background check, it might be wise to talk with an attorney who assists professional licensing applicants with their issues. You've invested a lot of time, effort and money into your profession -- so it's essential to present the board with an application they'll accept.
Source: backgroundchecks.com, "What do background checks show?," accessed April 18, 2018