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A Complete Guide to Background Checks in Florida

Florida employers, landlords/property managers, and firearms dealers all find themselves in need of ordering background checks for prospective employees, tenants, and customers. Although background checks may be required to be compliant with various regulations, they are also important to mitigate risks at the business level. A background check allows you to get a better picture of who you are dealing with before you hire someone, rent someone your property, or sell them a weapon. 

A Complete Guide to Florida Background Checks

What is a Background Check?

A background check describes the process used to verify the identity and background of a potential job applicant, renter, or another person, based on information provided by the person, such as their Social Security number, birthday, and in some instances, fingerprints. It may look at a person’s criminal and employment history, address history, educational attainment, and credit. In addition, a background check may pull information about a person’s motor vehicle and driving history. In some instances, interviews with people who know the individual may be obtained.

Where Is This Information Pulled From?

Background checks are based on information pulled from the public domain, including databased maintained by various law enforcement agencies. Depending on the type of background check desired, it may be based solely on information available in Florida databases or local, state, and federal sources. 

What Makes Florida Different from the Other States?

Although federal statutory requirements govern background checks in general, the state of Florida has additional laws on the books that you should be aware of. These include:

  • So-called “Ban the Box” laws do not exist in Florida. While some states limit whether employers can inquire about an applicant’s criminal past and arrest record via “Ban the Box” legislation, Florida allows it, for the most part, at least for private employers. 
  • Regulations about expunged or sealed criminal records. Applicants for jobs in Florida do not have to disclose information about their criminal past if records have been expunged or sealed. Employers cannot factor this information, if revealed, into their decision about whether or not to hire an individual. 
  • Disqualifiers. While Florida allows the use of background checks to screen candidates for employment, it only allows public employers to disqualify candidates based on crimes related to the job, first-degree misdemeanors, and felonies. For private employers, the state allows all criminal records to influence hiring decisions among employers but only when relevant to the job position. 

Main Types of Background Checks in Florida

In the state of Florida, there are two types of background checks, including Level 1 and Level 2 inquiries. These two background check types are legally defined under Fla. Stat. Ch. 435. 

Level 1 Background Checks. This type of check is a name-based, state-only check. This Florida background check looks into the person’s employment history, criminal history, and status on the national sex offender registry. Some Level 1 background checks may also include a credit inquiry. 

Level 2 Background Checks. This is a more extensive background check than the Level 1 variety. It requires the applicant to submit to fingerprinting, and the check is run through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

What Will an FDLE Background Check Show?

A background check through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is essentially a criminal record check. It looks to see if a job applicant or other person has been arrested in the past or found guilty/pleaded guilty to a criminal charge. The FDLE background check includes a state check through the Florida Computerized Criminal History Central Repository and Florida Crime Information Center for Florida arrests and active warrants or domestic violence injunctions. It also looks at the FBI’s National Criminal History database for arrests from other states and arrests on the federal level.

What Should Employers Keep an Eye Out For

Florida’s employers are limited by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in how they use the information obtained in background checks on potential employees, so it’s important that they heed these regulations and follow them closely. If not, they subject themselves to litigation under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers should also:

  • Be careful of the type of public records check service they rely on when conducting background checks. The service must be FCRA compliant. 
  • Make certain to time the background check appropriately. It must be conducted after initially interviewing a candidate. 
  • Provide applicants with proper disclosure forms prior to conducting background checks. 
  • Obtain the applicant’s written authorization prior to obtaining a background check. 
  • Disclose their intention to conduct interviews or investigative checks as part of the vetting process. 
  • Give the applicant the option to dispute any information disclosed in the background check. 

Employers who fail to follow the proper procedures when obtaining a background check on potential candidates set themselves up for FCRA claims. 

Best Background Check Service Providers to Use in Florida

Some of the best background checks for Florida’s employers, landlords, and gun dealers include:

  • ESR. ESR’s compliance with FCRA standards is in the top percentile and it offers a range of background services and in-depth reporting. Turnaround time is usually less than 72 hours. 
  • First Advantage. This highly reputable background check service conducts all types of background investigations and has serviced tens of thousands of customers. The company also performs drug tests along with detailed and accurate reports to spot discrepancies in the applicant’s history. This company’s turnaround time is quite extensive, however. 
  • Intellicorp. This service has been operational for decades and provides affordable services, including specialized background checks for the medical community. The company offers bulk discounts and a variety of different tiers for pricing. Turnaround times are fairly fast. However, the company has been in violation of FCRA regulations before, and they offer no enterprise-scale plans. 

Additional Information & Legal Resources

Need Help With a Background Check?

Whether you’re looking to have errors removed from your employment background check or need to find out more about a potential tenant or job applicant, our Florida FCRA attorneys can help. Trust our experienced staff to help you every step of the way. Reach out to Sharmin & Sharmin P.A. for help now by dialing 1-844-0742-7646 or clicking here


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