Background Checks: How to Perform Your Own Background Check to Protect Your Identity

Senior caregivers working for professional senior care companies must pass a criminal background check in order to be hired.  Individuals seeking to become professional caregivers or a certified nursing aide may enjoy a guarantee of employment as long as they can pass a criminal background check. This means proper identity information is crucial for a senior caregiver’s background check to return accurate information in order to obtain employment. Caregivers need to understand how to protect their identity and understand the information included on a criminal background check.   Senior care companies conducting criminal background checks on employees include:

  • Licensed Senior Home Care Agencies
  • Long-term Care Nursing Homes
  • Assisted Living Communities
  • Hospitals

How do you protect your identity as a professional caregiver?  Especially knowing you will change care companies multiple times throughout your career?  We live in a digital information age making it even more important to protect your personal identity information both offline and online. 5 Background Check Identity Protection Tips:

1) Purchase Your Own Background Check Annually:  once a year buy a background check on yourself to see the information that is on your criminal record and to confirm the names and addresses attached to your Social Security number.  Research to be sure you understand the right type of quality criminal background check to purchase.

2) Maintain and update online passwords: pick passwords that are unique. Be sure you have anti-virus software, anti-spyware software and a firewall on your computer. Use encryption software to safeguard your online transactions.  Never respond to an email requesting a password reset unless you asked for this yourself on the company’s website. Look for the “lock” on your browser’s status bar which you will see when you are using an online bank’s website.  

3) Review your mailbox, even the junk mail:  if you begin receiving mail in another name at your address, call the sender to investigate.  Be mindful if you stop receiving monthly bills or if your name should change in anyway on your usual subscriptions.

4) Monitor credit card statements:  even if a small amount appears that may not have the exact name of a company you are familiar with purchasing from, call to investigate the transaction.  Some credit card number thiefs will first do a small $10 transaction before making additional charges.

5) Limit credit cards used:  try to limit the number of credit cards you make purchases with to also limit the number of companies that have your information and who are running credit reports on you.  When the friendly department store clerk asks if you would like an additional discount on your purchase by opening up a charge card, just say “no”.

Act quickly if you do discover improper names and addresses associated with your name.  The background check companies do have formal dispute investigation systems in place (you will need to fill out a form to start the ball rolling) and the credit reporting bureaus also will work with you to clear up misinformation.  However, it is a time-consuming process.  The best way to insure a proper criminal background check is to make sure you do not engage in criminal behavior (don’t break the law).  Then be mindful of your spending behaviors to protect your identity.  Check your own background once a year in order to be able to immediately correct mistaken identity information. Review the by-state background check laws to see if employers can review your criminal history beyond just 7 years and purchase a quality background check. Then apply for a professional caregiving job or refer-a-friend to a caregiving job as more caregivers are needed to keep up with the care needs for America's growing senior population.

Criminal Background Checks Conducted by 92% of Employers and 100% of Senior Care Companies

Caregivers applying to job positions by senior care companies must pass a criminal background check.  Many individuals have concerns about what information may be on their background check but with technology advancing, it is easier than ever to both monitor the information on your background check and to purchase a background check on yourself.

The Society of Human Resource Management reports that 92% of employers use criminal-background checks for some or all job openings, according to their 2010 survey.

Learn more about criminal background checks which must follow the guidelines of the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and limit a review of information going back for only 7 years.  However, some states have passed legislation which does allow employers to review information for more than 7 years if the potential employee will be working with seniors or children.

Background check quality varies - be aware that it is important to purchase a quality background check that includes more than just a social security number to name match.

Quality background checks must include the criminal courthouse record check and verify the identity of the person.

Review the background check laws in your state and purchase a quality caregiver background check.  Senior caregivers are hired weekly by professional senior care companies accessing Caregiverlist's job applicant service - apply to a part-time or full-time caregiving position in your area or refer-a-friend.


CNA License Expiration and Transfers

A senior caregiver writes to us, "My CNA license has expired. Do I need to take a refresher class?" Another asks, "If I move to another state after completing school, will I have to retake my exams?”

Our Home Care Expert, Lewis Myers responds, “The answer to this question varies state by state. Generally , the CNA should never let their license expire. In the state of Maryland, the CNA would need to re-take the course and become re-licensed.”

If you need to renew your Certified Nursing Assistant license, or if you are looking to transfer your license to another state, Caregiverlist has put together information about Certified Nursing Aide (C.N.A.) License and Certification Transfer, but here’s a brief overview:

As a CNA, you are a medical professional. Therefore, your license must be up-to-date in order to practice. First, check your CNA Registry Status from the state in which you live.

Get to know your state’s Board of Nursing. You will want to obtain your state’s CNA application form. Each state has different requirements for renewing your CNA license. If it’s been a long time since you’ve worked, you may need to retake your CNA training. Take a Certified Nursing Aide sample test to make sure you are ready.

If your license is active and you are in good standing, once again contact your state’s Board of Nursing to see if the state to which your are moving has a “Reciprocity Agreement” with your current state. Many do. This would allow you to transfer your license without retaking the exam. You will still need to supply:

    •    social security number
    •    driver’s license
    •    present C.N.A or C.H.H.A. state approval
    •    most recent employment details
    •    educational proofs
    •    background check

If the states do not have reciprocity agreements, then you will have to take your destination state’s licensing practical and theoretical exam. Get in touch with your new state’s Nursing Aide Registry to get the most up-to-date information.

Being a CNA is a great career move. The need for qualified CNAs is on the rise nationally, as you can see by our Senior Care Employment Infographic. Make sure you can move to where the work is by following all the steps necessary to transfer your CNA license to make the most of the senior caregiver employment landscape.

Caregiver Background Checks: Laws Vary in Each State - Minnesota "Bans the Box"

Caregiver background checks are the first step in the caregiver hiring process.  But there is much confusion about the types of background checks and the information that is actually included.  The federal government passed legislation to guide employers on background checks as it is important to give criminals a second chance. The legislatures decided 7 years is the amount of time that should pass to have a clean slate and this requirement is part of a law called the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

States, however, can pass their own laws governing background checks for employment.  These state background check laws will trump the federal law (over-ride it).  Some states allow looking back for more than 7 years if an employee will be working with a senior or a child.

Senior caregiver employers must follow the state background check requirements in their state and caregiver job applicants should also be aware of these requirements which you can find in Caregiverlist's Background Check Laws "By-State" section.  Caregivers may also want to purchase their own background check prior to applying to a professional senior care job to verify all of the information.  As a digital life is a reality now, identity theft and fraud have grown at a high rate and it is important to learn to check your information at least annually to be sure there is no inappropriate information attached to your name.  You should also be sure to only purchase a quality caregiver background check.

Minnesota senior caregiver employers now must follow a new law which Governor Mark Dayton just signed into law, nicknamed "Ban the Box".  This law prohibits employers from inquiring about a job applicant's criminal history or conducting a background check until the applicant has been granted an interview or job offer.  This new Minnesota law also requires removing the question of criminal convictions or arrests on initial job applications.  However, senior caregiver employers can still inform applicants that a criminal history could be a disqualifying factor for a particular job.

Minnesota first passed the "ban the box" law in 2009, applying only to public employers (state and local governments).  Minnesota Senate File 523 expands the law to include private employers and takes effect January 1, 2014.

Employers exempt from the law are those serving vulnerable populations and those employers who are not permitted to hire people with a criminal history.  The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is responsible for enforcing the law and employers will be assessed up to $500 per violation.

Caregivers for senior home care agencies, assisted living communities and nursing homes receive all benefits for employees, as required by law, including unemployment insurance, worker's compensation insurance and healthcare benefits. In order to offer these benefits, companies must hire caregivers who are legal to work and who pass criminal background checks.  Purchase a caregiver background check and apply to a senior caregiver job in your area.  You may also learn about caregiver job descriptions and requirements as more people are needed in the senior care field as the number of seniors in America continues to increase rapidly. 

Background Checks: The Home Care Agency Perspective

Background checks for senior care are required by quality home care agencies before they will employ a CNA, Home Health Aide, or senior companion. We spoke to our Home Care Agency Expert, Lewis Myers, owner of Right at Home, Maryland, to discuss the significance of a good and thorough criminal background check. 

Criminal background checks — how vital are they to the caregiver hiring process?

Right at Home believes background checks are extremely important.  They can be done inexpensively or they can be very comprehensive.  When we run a background we want a very comprehensive picture of the applicant’s past.  Therefore, we take additional steps, such as looking at all 50 states, when we run a background check.  If I were looking for care for my loved one, I would want to know exactly how the background for the caregiver was checked.  Further, the agency should be willing to share results of the check with their potential clients.  This may give the client an extra level of comfort as to the potential caregiver’s past.

Who buys the background check — the  caregiver applying for a job or the Home Care agency?

The answer to this question varies across the gamut of agencies. Some agencies initiate the background check, some agencies require the caregiver to do their own background check and verify it.

As a caregiver, can ask to see my background check if conducted by an agency? 

Of course the caregiver may ask to see the background check and we as an agency/employer will share the results with the employee.

I want to hire a caregiver. Can I request to see the background check of a caregiver you send to my home? 

The family member may request to see the background check for a caregiver.  During the employment process, we as the agency obtain consent from the caregiver to share the background check with a family to which the caregiver is assigned.  This is rarely an issue as our standards would preclude us from hiring a caregiver if there is even the slightest doubt as to the caregiver’s past.

Do background checks only cover crimes committed in the United States? How would I check on the background of an immigrant caregiver? 

Background checks generally cover crimes committed in the US. It would be extremely difficult to check on the background of an immigrant in their country of origin. However, this brings up a good point. Given the difficulty of making this check, it can be prudent to require that a caregiver is in the US for a minimum period of time prior to coming to work for the agency.

When a caregiver, aide or companion applies with their own background check, are they given any special consideration?

In terms of special consideration, we love to see that kind of initiative, providing the check is verifiable.  We also ensure that the check performed meets all of our criteria. We really like using (the background check offered on It enables us to integrate the hiring process, creating greater efficiency.

What's in the background check? How far back does the background check go? Read our background check FAQ for answers to questions you might have. And to see what your background check says about you, we've made it easy to purchase your own background check.

Background Checks for Senior Caregivers: Frequently Asked Questions

Caregiver background checks are required by professional senior care companies.  The word "background check" causes confusion for many and because background checks are regulated under a federal law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, it takes extra work to sift through the actual requirements and limitations of information shared in background checks.

Caregiverlist provides information on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which has been updated over the years and received more additions to accommodate the terrorism act after September 11, 2001.  The Federal Trade Commission updates the FCRA and each state can also create their own laws governing background checks which may over-ride the FCRA.

What does this mean for senior caregivers?  First, it is important to understand that credit reports are separate from criminal background checks.  The following are frequently asked questions about caregiver background checks, along with answers.

Caregiver Background Check FAQ's

What information is included on an official caregiver background check?

Caregiver background checks first verify the individual "is who they say they are" by matching the person's name to their social security number and all addresses connected with that social security number.  This makes sure the caregiver is not an imposter as true criminals will many times simply steal someone else's identity in order to try to be hired.

Sex offender records are then checked.  Many times background check services will automatically tap into the national database for sex offenders at the same time the social security number match is validated.

After the social security number and name match are verified, then a criminal courthouse record check is performed in each of the counties where the caregiver has lived.

How many years back will criminal records show?  Just 7 years, as required by the federal law, but individual states may pass their own legislation which can allow review of background check information for more than 7 years if the employee will be working with seniors or children.  You may review the "by-state" background check laws to learn the look-back years in your state.

What information do criminal courthouse records show?

  • Arrests
  • Convictions
  • Motor-vehicle violations

Did you run a stop-sign and receive a traffic ticket?  This will show up on your criminal record, unless when you showed up in court the judge "dropped" the charge.  This is why if you have a traffic violation, from speeding tickets to running a redlight, you should always show up in court and try to negotiate for the charge to not show up on your record, and be reduced, if possible.

Theft and domestic violence charges will show up on your criminal record.  As caregivers will be going into a senior's home to assist them, it is very important to only hire a senior caregiver who has demonstrated responsible decision-making and has upheld high ethical and moral behavior.

Criminal courthouses sometimes charge an additional fee to access current records and you should always make sure any background check you are purchasing takes this into account.  Some courthouses do not submit criminal records to a national database daily and an "in-person" check is required which means you must have a real person go into the courthouse to pull the records.

What should caregivers do when applying for a job when they know there is a violation on their background check criminal record?

Be honest.  Also be aware of the 7-year look-back and find out if your state allows for a longer look-back period.  Remember, the federal law mandates that records of arrest, indictment, information, misdemeanor complaint, or conviction of a crime that, from the date of disposition, release, or parole, antedate the report by more than seven years.

How can a caregiver know what information is on their background check?

You may purchase a criminal background check and review the information.  If there is an error on your background check, you may contact the processing background check company to submit a request for review. This is called an "Applicant Dispute Reinvestigation" and will request supporting documentation to support your dispute with the background check results.

You may purchase a caregiver background check and remember that it is advised for individuals to check their own background check every few years, just to be sure there are no errors.  As we live in the highly "wired" era, one disadvantage of connected computerized information is that one typo can turn Susan into Susie and begin a chain of errors in information.  Caregiver job applicants can also ask their employer to share their background check results with them after they are hired.  Some employers will be willing to do this and others will not.  









Caregiver Background Check: the Caregiver Job Edge

Caregiver jobs are growing at an incredible rate. According to the latest statistics, an average of 4.5 caregivers are hired by senior home care agencies per week. The senior home care industry has grown 40% since 2008 because more seniors prefer to age in place, at home.

So how do you stand out as a home care specialist in your search as a CNA, home companion, or Home Health Aide? What will make you an especially attractive job candidate for a quality senior home care agency?

A background check is essential if you are going to work in the caregiving industry. Because seniors are especially vulnerable, families and home care agencies will insist that you are free from criminal behavior and financial irresponsibility. Many employers will insist that you have a background check  before you walk in the door. Certainly, a good background check will give you a leg-up on the competition and prove to any prospective employer that you can be trusted with elderly care.

What will a background check show? Most will show:
    •    Social Security number confirmation (name matches the number)
    •    Current and historical felony convictions
    •    Arrest record (usually only actual convictions)

A senior home care agency must review the information found in the background check, but cannot use it to discriminate in hiring an applicant. View the video "How Employers Review a Caregiver Background Check."   

Each state has its own background check law requirements. You can see review your state’s laws for background check disclosures with Caregiverlist’s Background Check List (FCRA ) by State.

Not all online background checks are equal, so to make sure you get the report that will get you the job, has made it easy for you.

You can purchase a simple Social Security Number Match. This verifies your name matches your Social Security number for current and former addresses and shows employers you are who you say you are. It is the very minimum required in order to secure a senior caregiver job.
Cost: $8.00 Turnaround time to receive: Same day as submitted.

You can also request a Criminal Super Search with Social Security Number Match. Your best value, this report verifies your name matches your Social Security number for current and former addresses to verify you are who you say you are AND provides instant multi-state search of criminal records (includes District of Columbia). Includes felony and misdemeanor records, sex-offender records, inmate records and arrest information for 3 counties.
Cost: $18.00 Turnaround time to receive: Same day as submitted.

Give yourself the best opportunity at a job with the best senior home care agencies. At the very least, see what your background check says about you. And once you have a great report in hand, apply for a part-time or full-time Senior Caregiving Job.

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