If you’re an employer or landlord with some applicant-screening savvy, you’ll know that county criminal reports are the most accurate and up-to-date records of criminal history that you can find. While county criminal reports may take a few business days to complete, the non-instant turnaround time is compensated for by the detail and precision of information found on the record.
The one problem with county criminal records, though, is coverage. When you run a statewide criminal report, you are covering all areas that report to the state. The same goes for when you are running a nationwide criminal report; you get a report that covers most states and territories within the United States. There are, however, gaps in these reports. Not all county courthouses or police departments report to the state, and not all states report to the nationwide databases. How, then, do you get a fully comprehensive report, which covers all areas the applicant has lived at, while maintaining the accuracy and detail that you need in a report that will affect a hiring, rental, or credit decision?
Many employers and landlords will have their applicants write down the addresses they have been at for the past 7 years. Because criminal reports don’t go back further than 7 years anyway, it would make sense for anyone wishing to obtain a criminal report to only run county criminals in the counties that the applicant has resided in for the past 7 years. The problem with this? If the applicant knows that they have committed a crime in a certain county, they can always omit addresses from that county when they are writing down their account of their address history. Persons with criminal records will assume that you won’t know the difference… and most of the time, they’re right.
This comes to our question: How can I find previous addresses or counties without asking the applicant to write them down? Simple: an address history report. Unlike the “Address Comparison” section on a credit report, which only reflects the address history for the applicant the credit bureau has on file, and the applicant’s own record, which can often leave out certain addresses, AAA Credit Screening’s address history report pulls address information from hundreds of different places, including the U.S. Postal Service, utility bill records, creditors, voter registration records, and other comparable sources.
While the address history report is not classified as a consumer report, and therefore cannot be used to make a hiring or rental decision, it can be used as a tool to determine the counties that should be ran for an applicant’s criminal reports, which are a part of their consumer report and can be used to make an employment or rental decision. This leaves one gap, though, in your comprehensive criminal report: federal felonies. Federal criminal records are created by the federal court system, which exists outside of the traditional county courthouses. See our article on the difference between nationwide criminal reports and federal criminal reports for more information on this topic.
If you want a comprehensive record of all possible criminal history for your U.S. resident applicant, you should be ordering 3 kinds of reports. The address history report, which will let AAA Credit Screening know what counties to search for criminal records in. County criminal reports, which will be run in all counties the applicant has lived in during the past 7 years. Finally, a federal criminal report, which will fill the final gap in your comprehensive report.