Here at GroupOne Background Screening, we are often asked, “How far back do background checks go?” Sometimes we’ll answer, “They go all the way back!” We are kidding, of course.

We use background checks to confirm and verify the information on an applicant’s résumé, such as education credentials and work history. But we still haven’t answered your question, “How far back do background checks go?” So, here’s a few answers that generally – and we repeat generally – apply.

Employment background checks can go back as far as 7-10 years, though that timeframe varies depending on the type of check, industry regulations, state and local laws and the position applied for.

It’s important to note the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides job candidates with rights and consumer reporting agencies such as GroupOne with guidelines which cannot be violated. To do so could result in some hefty fines. One of the most important rules is we must obtain written consent before conducting a background check on a person.


The investigative period for criminal background checks usually covers 7-10 years. These checks turn up public arrest records, court records and criminal records for felony arrests and convictions, in addition to pending cases. Some employers also request searches of misdemeanor records. While results from misdemeanor searches only cover the last 7-10 years, felony convictions could appear on a record for life.

Many states have restrictions regarding the types of information employers collect or how far back they can go. Other states allow more thorough background checks. So, we make sure to know the state laws as they can vary.


Employment history checks usually go back seven years and confirm previous employment dates and job titles.


There are usually no restrictions on how far back education verifications go. The check confirms educational history, including schools attended, degrees or certifications earned, and honors received.


Professional license verifications can go back as far as the date when the license was issued. This kind of check confirms a candidate holds a certain professional license, while verifying the date it was issued and a history of discipline actions.


Checking credit history involves obtaining a candidate’s credit report from one or more credit bureaus. Credit reports can only be obtained with written consent and the report may not include a credit score. Credit reports can only show information from the last seven years, though some bankruptcies could be reported for a longer period.

As with criminal history, states have different laws regarding credit history. Some states only allow credit checks if the employer is a financial institution or if the history is directly related to the job position. Once again, we make sure to know the state laws as they can vary.  


Reference checks have no time limit, although it is advisable for employers to limit the scope of review as a cost-saving measure. This check involves contacting references, to include former employers and supervisors.

Please do not hesitate to contact GroupOne should you have questions.