Direct Line No. : (310) 328-4300
Toll Free No. : (800) 906-4MIS (4647)
Nationwide Fax No. : (310) 328-4311



General Frequently Asked Questions


Nationwide Criminal Database Search FAQ’s


Q: Why do background checks?
A: Background screening has quickly become a staple in the hiring process for businesses world-wide. Some companies screen applicants because they are seriously concerned with their ability to perform critical job functions, while others are performing checks simply to demonstrate due diligence in the event of legal proceedings.
Implementing background screening into your hiring process will naturally encourage applicants to be honest, while discouraging applicants with something to hide. Many of our clients immediately see a reduction of employee turnover, and insurance premiums as well as a reduction in workplace theft, violence, and injury.

Q: What is negligent hiring?
A: Negligent hiring is a cause of action in tort law that arises where one party is held liable for negligence because they placed another party in a position of authority or responsibility, and an injury resulted because of this placement. Negligent hiring is generally found where the employee who actually caused the injury had a reputation record that showed his/her propensity to misuse the kind of authority given by the employer, and this record would have been easily discoverable by that employer, had a diligent search been conducted.
An employer may be held liable for the negligent or tortuous conduct of an employee if the employer is found to have breached the duty to use reasonable care in the screening and selection of paid and volunteer staff, particularly with regard to elimination of those candidates whose backgrounds evidence the foreseeable possibility of violent, or sexual abusive behaviors. Employers are responsible for negligent hiring and retention. Basically, an employer can be held liable not only for what it knew about an employee, but also what it should have known about an employee. A reminder: Ignorance is NEVER a defense in law.

Q: What are the benefits to outsourcing background checks?
A: Screening applications “in house” can be extremely time consuming, tedious work. Deciphering what areas should be searched for records, how far back you are allowed to inquire, tracking down previous employers, and contacting educational institutions often pose situations and questions many are not prepared to handle. Companies find outsourcing this task to a professional company allows them to allocate their time more efficiently and concentrate on their core business.

Q: Why choose MIS?
A: Moore Information Services, Inc. is an nationwide company offering over 20 years of professional experience in the field of pre-employment screening. With the support of our highly trained staff, our clients are provided with the information necessary to make knowledgeable and confident hiring decisions accurately, easily, and cost-effectively.

Q: How much does a background check cost?
A: A background screening by MIS is typically less then the cost of a new employee on their first day of employment. Either way, the cost of pre-screening far outweighs the costs associated with training an applicant who may not have the necessary skills for the position, or who may have a spotted past that could end up becoming a detriment to the business.

Q: How long does it take to perform a background check?
A: MIS’ standard turnaround time for a background check is one to three business days.
There are extenuating circumstances when employment verification, education verification or criminal county research is delayed. Here are a few examples of possible delays:
  • Employers require verifications to be processed by mail.
  • Education institutions require verifications by mail or are closed for spring/winter breaks.
  • Criminal courthouses are backlogged with requested or are shorthanded in personnel.
  • Criminal records would need to be obtained by the court clerk when there is a “Hit”.
  • Some Motor Vehicle Departments have turnaround times that fall beyond the standard period.

Q: How far back do you look for criminal records?
A: Seven (7) years. There are circumstances (types of industry, type of position) when you may search back beyond seven years.

Q: What areas do you cover in a background check?
A: MIS is a nationwide pre-employment screening company with full access to all district and county courthouses and Motor Vehicle Departments. MIS also provides considerable coverage on an international basis.

Q: Are there statewide criminal searches available?
A: Yes, every state has a repository of criminal activity that is developed from county level criminal records. Some states however, do not make this available to the public, or require a permissible agency to retrieve this information. State repositories have serious limitations because data is often out-of-date, incomplete or NOT forwarded to the repository from the county courthouse. Searching state records in and by themselves is not recommended. It should only be searched if accompanied by the county record search.

Q: Are there nationwide criminal searches available?
A: NO. Contrary to several major pre-employment screening companies, there is NO nationwide criminal database available to the public. Law enforcement agencies have access to the NCIC through the FBI, however there remains NO nationwide criminal search for employers. These “nationwide” criminal searches should only be used as a supplement to county level criminal searches.

Nationwide Criminal Database Search


Q: What is the Nationwide Criminal Database Search?
A: The Nationwide Criminal Search includes instant criminal records from 50 states including District of Columbia for felony and upper level misdemeanor records, sex offender registries, inmate records, and some arrests. However, keep in mind that not all states report to MIS due to state specific statues regarding criminal data.
Q: An applicant checked off on his/her application that she/he has a record, why can’t I find it in your system? 

A: There are a number of reasons a search may returned as a “Clear” when you believe there should be a record. First, you must determine that the applicant was convicted of (not just charged with) the crime in question. It is also possible that the court where the record is housed does not report directly to MIS as a county may have multiple courthouses. This is why the Power Search is recommended to provide instant data from all reporting counties, states and other sources as well as recognizing counties where the applicant has lived but does not report directly to MIS. This drastically reduces the chance of missing a possible record. 

Q: How can I find the disposition if it is not displayed on the record?
A: Information reported to MIS varies depending upon the source of the record – not all information may have been reported. If you require further assistance, please contact Client Services.
Q: How do I distinguish between an arrest record and a criminal conviction record?
A: An arrest record does not represent a conviction. It only signifies a citation where the arrestee has subsequently been released. A hiring decision should not be based upon arrest records. A conviction is a result of an arrest and is the final disposition.

Q: How do I get a description of a charge code?
A: There should be a description next to the charge on the record that was run, i.e.: Charge 01 Counts Rape next to the Charge Code : 2907.02. Every state has their own codes assigned and should have detail within the record. Otherwise, speak to Client Services Representative for more details.
Q: Do the state sex offender registries provide information on all known sex offenders within that state?
A: No, results will vary according to state. Some states only require the more serious offenders who are at higher risk of becoming repeat offenders, to register. All offenders are required to register at the local level where they were convicted and also required to notify the agency when there is a change of address.
Q: Why are some data fields on the record blank?
A: Not all information is reported by the source of the record. Some information can be lost or construed due to older systems, human error or transitions from index to computer systems. Contact Client Services for suggestions and assistance on further investigation.
Q: Why is it necessary to follow up on a record in the California Criminal Index with a single county search?
A: The majority of records included in the California Criminal Index do not contain Date of Birth or specific charge information. It is therefore highly recommended to follow up with a single county search to provide a more definitive match based on name and Date of Birth.
Q: How often is your data updated?
A: Updates vary by state as well as county. Our data is generally updated monthly, but can be as often as weekly and even daily in some areas.
Q: Do you provide access to criminal records in Canada?
A: Yes, we offer Canadian criminal records with an average turnaround time between 10-14 days. This does not include New Brunswick, Nunavut, or Northwest Territories.
Q: Why do my results contain names that do not match the individual I entered?
A: There a number of reasons that a result set will contain more than one name associated with the Social Security Number: transposition of numbers at the original point of entry (credit bureaus, utility companies, cell phone bills, etc.); potential identity theft; the names friends and family members may appear in the report of a subject of a search if that person has ever purchased an item for someone else where that purchase requires a credit check (i.e., cellular phone service).
Q: How is it possible that more than one name may appear on an individual’s SSN verification?
A: There are a number of reasons that a result set will contain more than one name associated with the Social Security Number: transposition of numbers at the original point of entry (credit bureaus, utility companies, magazine subscriptions, cell phone bills, etc.); potential identity theft; the names friends and family members may appear in the report of a subject of a search if that person has ever purchased an item for someone else where that purchase requires a credit check (i.e., cellular phone service).
Q: How can I tell the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
A: Since felonies and misdemeanors vary by state, you will need to locate the charge level on the record itself. “M” represents “Misdemeanor” while and “F” represents “Felony.” Other common charge level codes include “U” for “Unknown” if not provided by the source and “T” for “Traffic.”
Q: What is the difference between a civil and a criminal offense?
A: A civil offense is an infraction of a law that is not a crime. This may be something like a routine traffic offense such as speeding. The only penalty for a civil offense is a fine. A criminal offense is a violation of the law that is punishable by a fine or a jail sentence. Misdemeanors have lesser fines with jail sentences usually less than 1 year. Felonies are punishable by one or more years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. Sentences will vary by state.


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