A federal background check is common in the US. This background investigation is normally carried out by potential employers, property owners and learning institutions to determine if a person has a criminal history record.
If you know that you have had a run-in with the law in the past or suspect your name might have erroneously found its way into the federal criminal database, then it is recommended that you do a federal background check on yourself before you apply for a job, enroll at a college, volunteer with an organization or even rent a property. If you are concerned about having to take a drug test to get hired we have additional information and you can read it here.
Let’s see how that can be done.
FBI Identity History Summary
Since the FBI maintains the federal criminal database, it makes sense to start at the FBI. In September 1973, the US Attorney General directed the FBI to publish rules that would serve as a guide to how criminal record information will be provided to people who had a criminal record. Since that time, people who believe they have a criminal record can apply and receive a copy of such records.
Procedure to obtain a Federal Background Check
There are four options to obtain a federal background check, a rap sheet in common parlance, on yourself.
Option 1: Submit an Electronic Request to the FBI
To submit an electronic request, visit the FBI’s website for identity history summary checks. The website has detailed instructions on how to submit your request. The following are the salient points that you should take note of:
● You must complete the application form in full.
● Select the mode of communication you want to use to receive the information. This can be via email with a secure link and personal identification number or via first class mail from the US Postal Service.
● You must supply your fingerprints electronically by placing your fingerprints on a standard fingerprint form that is available for download. Your name and date of birth must be indicated on the fingerprint card. The fingerprints must be clear and legible in accordance with FBI rules order to be acceptable.
● There is a fee of $18 which is payable via credit card, PayPal or Amazon.
● Once you submit the request, you will receive a confirmation email for your records. You will need this information to check up on your request.
Option 2: Submit a Request to the FBI via Mail
The second option involves submitting a request for your criminal history records via mail. To do so:
● Complete the application form.
● Capture your fingerprints on the standard fingerprint form making sure your fingerprints are legible and clear in accordance with FBI rules. Your name and date of birth must be included on the fingerprint card.
● Make a payment of $18 via money order, a certified check payable to the US treasury or via a credit card payment form. Note that these are the only modes of payment accepted when using this option. Take note that this fee can be waived if you can prove that you live in extreme poverty or are destitute. Proof of this fact must be provided, for example, by submitting a notarized affidavit.
● Finally, before sending your application, go through the checklist below to ascertain the correctness of your application:
○ Include the duly filled application form.
○ Sign your application.
○ Attach the fingerprint card that should include the following:
■ Date of Birth
■ Descriptive Data
■ All 10 rolled fingerprint impressions.
■ The plain impressions including the thumbs of both hands.
○ Attach a money order, certified check or credit card payment form for $18.00. Ensure the payment information is accurate.
○ Attach a form of contact information in case the FBI needs to contact you.
● Finally, mail the application to the FBI CJIS Division at 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306.
● You will receive a response via first class mail from the US Postal Service.
Option 3: Submit a Request Through an FBI Approved Channeler
One thing that comes out from the first two options is that this is a complicated process. For example, taking clear and legible fingerprints yourself is not an easy thing to master if you have never done it before. This could lead to the FBI rejecting your applications and you could end up incurring additional costs. Furthermore, a criminal background check obtained by the subject may not be acceptable to a potential employer because the employer has no way of verifying if the information has been tampered with. In most states, employment background checks need to come from the State’s Bureau of Identification.
The FBI recognizes that this process is technical for ordinary folk. They, therefore, allow citizens to submit the federal background checks via FBI Approved Channelers. These are private businesses that have been contracted to submit requests on behalf of citizens. They are more expensive but are the surest way to expedite the process.
Option 4: Nuwber
If you don’t want to spend money to get a criminal background check from the FBI but are interested in finding out what publicly available information is out there regarding you, Nuwber is a great place to start. Nuwber is a search engine and database that pulls all publicly available, up-to-date and accurate data about you for free. If you want to dig deeper into the results of the free search, Nuwber offers affordable subscription plans that give you access to extensive background information.
Challenging your Criminal History Record
So what happens when you find out that your rap sheet is inaccurate. Well, Nuwber provides a service where you can request inaccurate information to be removed from their database. As for the FBI, there is a procedure to follow:
● Contact the agency that supplied the wrong information to the FBI. The FBI can only change the information provided by State Agencies if it receives a request from those agencies. It can also do so if it receives a request from a court or agency with control over the arrest data.
● You can also electronically submit your challenge directly to the FBI.
● There is also the option to write to the FBI and provide supporting documentation. The FBI will contact the agencies concerned for verification.
Running a federal background check on yourself is a great way to know what employers, property managers, and learning institutions will see when they run a check on you. This can give you a leg up in getting the job you so desperately need or securing the residence you want.