Free Background Check Authorization Form

A background check authorization form is required any time an employer decides to request a background check on a new hire. Employers are interested in verifying everything that is on a new hire’s resume and application form. In addition, there may be items such as financial problems and criminal activity that do not find their way onto an application form.

This post provides additional details about these forms, when they are needed, candidates’ rights, and the opportunities candidates have to initiate corrections to reports. An excellent background check can make the difference between being hired and not being offered a job.

What Is a Background Check Authorization Form?

Many companies offering a position in their company often conduct a background check before making an offer of employment. They usually perform credit checks and also criminal background checks as part of their due diligence in the hiring process. Human resource managers will often hire a third-party company to conduct these background checks.

Before a background check can be initiated, the prospective employee must approve an authorization request form allowing the company or 3rd party to conduct the background check.

Importance of a Background Check Authorization Form

Federal laws and many states require employers to obtain written consent from a prospective employee before they initiate a background check. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) provides additional protection for consumers and new employees.

These background checks are an important part of the hiring process. The information provided can have a major impact on whether an offer is made to the candidate offering employment.

New candidates can request a copy of the report and the details provided to the company in the report. Not all information is current, and some information may even be incorrect. Candidates are entitled to challenge the information contained in the background check and make a request to have the details corrected. Evidence supporting the challenge must be provided.

Essential Elements of a Background Check Authorization Form Considerations

Both employers and candidates should know what to include and expect in the background check authorization form. Before signing, always review and ensure that you will be able to review the results of the background check. Employers should also be aware of the rights of both parties concerning background checks.

The following should be included in most background check authorization forms:

  • Review the FRCA language and include a narrative that tells the applicant that information will be obtained and used for employment purposes only.
  • Candidates can choose to receive a copy of the report; however, California, Minnesota, and Oklahoma require a check box for the candidate to declare they would like a copy of the report.
  • Summarize the rights of the candidate as outlined in the FCRA

The following data collection is included on the form:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth, Social Security Number
  • Driver’s license and state
  • Physical address – current
  • Physical address – for the last seven years
  • The authorization form should be a standalone document
  • The authorization form should be clear and concise

A disclosure form should be included indicating the candidate can:

  • Request a copy
  • Dispute the results
  • Request a reason for dismissal

FAQs

The following are several of the frequently asked questions many candidates have about background authorization forms and subsequent background checks.

Is the authorization necessary to run a background check?

Yes, all employers must request candidates to consent to a background check and document this consent using a background check authorization form.

What is a pre-employment background check?

A pre-employment background check is requested by the employer to verify the information provided by the candidate on their application form. The check includes an investigation into the following:
Credit history,
Criminal records
Work history,
Driving records
Living arrangements and conditions
Personal character

Can employers ask about criminal history?

Yes, however, before employers can conduct a background check into the candidate’s criminal history, they must have authorization from the candidate recorded on a background check authorization form.

What happens if we fail in background verification?

In most cases, the candidate will be disqualified from the hiring process. Often many candidates are applying for a position, and the company will turn to the next qualified candidate. However, not every verification is considered a failure. For example, someone who must drive on the job would be disqualified if they have one or more DUI convictions, while jobs that do not involve driving may not consider DUI convictions as a failure. The results of the background check must be considered in the context of the position and the company.

What disqualifies you from a background check?

There are multiple reasons for being disqualified because of the results of a background check. In many cases, it is something that directly relates to the position you are a candidate for. For example, someone with DUI charges or convictions might be disqualified from a job that involves driving, i.e., driving a delivery truck. Those folks with a criminal record are not automatically disqualified. Employers are expected to assess the criminal charges in relation to the job before making a decision. Old drug charges vs. someone with robbery are treated much differently.
Your resume should be 100% accurate, and there should be no lies or missing information. Indicating you have a professional license, when you do not will be flagged in the background check. Employers who discover a lie in a background check usually disqualify the person from the potential candidate pool.
Your performance at other jobs or in your personal life can also impact your candidacy. Personal bankruptcy, missed payments, or poor credit history will usually cause disqualification from jobs that involve the company’s finances.
Speeding tickets can disqualify you from a job as a delivery driver since the company will see you as a higher risk when driving their vehicles.
Many people are applying for jobs, and any red flags, even minor ones, can cause you to be overlooked in favor of other candidates with no red flags.
Mistakes can be made by 3rd parties or your potential employer, causing a disqualification. If you fail and feel that the disqualification is inaccurate, review the report to confirm everything is accurate and review this with the employer. Be prepared to provide factual details to support your case.

What’s the longest a background check should take?

A background check should take approximately one to three business days under normal conditions. Searches can take longer if the scope is large, you have lived in multiple states, etc. however, 14 days should be the maximum.
Allow time for the employer to review the report. Note that they will be reviewing several candidates and reports and may take a few days to complete their assessment before notifying you of the results.

What happens if the employer doesn’t respond to the background check?

Former employers may not respond promptly to background checks for a variety of reasons. They may no longer be in operation, HR managers are away on vacation, or they may have a policy of not responding to these requests. They should review your time at the company, whether there are any notable issues, and respond accordingly. However, many are reluctant to respond due to liability issues and may only respond by indicating your start and end dates at the company.
If they fail to respond, be prepared to provide copies of pay stubs or tax statements showing your time spent at your former employer.

Can a job offer be rescinded after a background check?

Yes, a job offer can be rescinded after failing a background check; however, there are steps to take before accepting the result and moving on. The FCRA requires employers to:
Advise you if they plan to rescind the job offer due to a negative background check
The employer must provide you with a copy of the background check report
Provide an opportunity to challenge the findings of the background check.
Review the report and check for accuracy as well as the impact on the job. Challenge the decision based on your review of the report and the company’s reason for disqualifying your opportunity for the position.

Can an employer fire you after they hire you because of a background check?

In industries where resources are in short supply, employers may offer and hire an employee before the background check report is completed, particularly if it takes up to 14 days to complete.
Once the report is reviewed, if there are valid reasons in the eyes of the employer, they can fire you at any time following At-Will Employment. At-Will employment means that your employer can let you go at any time for any or no reasons without warning and without the need to establish just cause.

What is the next step after a background check?

 Once the background check is completed, the report is submitted to the HR manager and the hiring manager for review and a decision. Note that these folks are busy and may have many applicants to review before making a decision. Once the review is completed, job offers will be sent out to those people the company would like to hire.
It may take from three or four days to as long as several weeks before hearing about the job or receiving a job offer. Note that companies will only request background checks for those people they are serious about. If you have been asked to sign a background authorization form and conduct a background check, it usually indicates they are considering your application seriously.

Key Points

Many companies conduct background checks before hiring a new employee. They are interested in the potential employee’s criminal history, credit history, and verification of the accuracy of various claims on their job applications/resumes.

Before a background check can be conducted, the prospective employee must agree and sign a background authorization form agreeing to the background check.


Candidates are entitled to request a copy of the background check report. They should check the report for accuracy and initiate corrective actions if there are errors in the report. Be prepared to provide supporting documentation for any errors in the report.

A negative report does not always cause a disqualification; however, in a highly competitive job environment, most people will be disqualified. In addition, if the job requires driving a vehicle and the criminal report identifies DUI convictions and/or speeding tickets, the employee will be disqualified. If the job is a desk job, this may not be an issue for the employer.

The background check can take from three to 14 days, depending on the thoroughness of the investigation, how many locations and previous employers are involved, etc. In addition, allow time for Human Resources and the hiring manager to review the report and make a decision.

Employees can be fired after a background check report is received and reviewed. At-Will employment allows the employer to let an employee go with or without reason.