Texas Background Check Laws

Background checks are important for many reasons in this day and age. Knowing who you are surrounding yourself with or who you might hire for an important job that needs filling is crucial.

Let’s look at how you can conduct your Texas-based background check while ensuring you stay within the state’s legal parameters. Also, we will show howyou can run a simple background check via public records using tools like Information.com’s reverse address lookup search.

How To Start a Background Check In Texas

The Texas Department of Public Safety oversees all background checks in Texas. As an individual or a business, you can access all public records via the Texas Department of Public Safety or the Texas Office of Court Administration. That being said, arrests and convictions from private repositories are not accessible to you on a public level.

Employer-based criminal background checks go back seven years in an individual’s criminal history. This standard applies to an individual or a third-party agency committing to the background check. However, if the salary for a position exceeds $75,000 per year, the employer can go back into the applicant’s criminal history to view any legal proceedings that were recorded after the applicant turned 18. This is because such positions are usually of a managerial level and thus may have more responsibilities than a lower-level employee.

How Do I Conduct a Proper Employment or Tenant Background Check In Texas?

To run a fully legal background check on a Texas-based applicant for a job or a place of residence that is fully compliant with the EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and FCRA guidelines, please consider the following:

  • First, remember it is illegal to conduct a background check based on color, race, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic factors.

  • You must tell whoever is applying that a background check is needed to continue the employment process. This has to be in writing by itself, not merged with an employment application.
  • You must also have the applicant’s written consent to the background check in order to continue. The wording on the document must be clear and concise concerning the purpose of the background check. This can be a part of the original written notification document discussed in the last point.
  • Any interviews with outside parties about the client mustalso be stated in writing. This is called an investigative check.

  • It’s also worth noting that, in the state of Texas, arrests without conviction should never be used for an employment decision. Instead, only utilize convictions, guilty and no-contest pleas when making your decision.

What To Do If a Background Check Comes Up Negatively

If the background check finds something, such as past criminal convictions, the employer is allowed to take an adverse action (in this case, refusing to hire the applicant for the position). Before this is done, though, employers are required by the FCRA to:

  • Include a copy of the consumer report you used.

  • Include a copy of the FCRA rights summary, which is typically provided by the company that did the background check.

These steps give the applicant a chance to explain the report’s findings. However, if the applicant’s explanation isn’t to the level of satisfaction your business requires, then you must:

  • Tell the applicant in person/via email/telephone that they are not suitable for the position and that they were rejected because of what came up on the background check.
  • Provide the name, address, and contact information of the company that processed the background check and a statement on how the company that sold the background check cannot legally give specific reasons for the hiring decision.
  • You must also tell the applicant that they have the right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of the background check within 60 days.

Is It Ethical To Do Personal Background Checks in Texas?

If you don’t own a business or rental property, you may still be wondering if there’s any ethical issue with using a reverse search tool for personal background checks on someone living in Texas. The answer is fairly straightforward—as long as you’re not running the check for malicious intent or purposes, it’s perfectly legal.

You can use Information.com’s reverse search tool to ascertain if someone you’re dating is who they say they are or if your neighbor’s an ex-con. These are just two legal examples of why you might want to run a personalized background check on someone.

Important Legal Information About Texas Background Checks With Reverse Lookup Tools

Background checks that are utilized for employment purposes are off-limits when using Information.com’s reverse lookup tools. This even applies to just doing a quick lookup of the applicant you have in mind. It’s important to always be in line with the standards and practices of the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA).

Background checks reviewing potential tenants is also another subject that is not allowed with Information.com’s reverse search lookup tools. There’s too much room for ethical misuse regarding judgment based on race, color, religion, disability status, national origin, and other factors. Much like conducting a background check for employment, one must always adhere to FCRA standards when vetting potential tenants.

You cannot conduct a background check for any malicious or harmful reason, which includes everything from stealing someone’s identity to harassment. If it goes against the law (and common sense) then don’t do it. 

Final Thoughts

Background checks are complex processes, and a lot goes into their legality. It’s good to know the ins and outs of your state before committing to one. There are many ways a company or an individual can make an error in judgment when using Information.com’s reverse search lookup on a person, as we mentioned before. Always stay within your state and federal parameters when conducting a background check in Texas.

Note: This article is to inform you about background check laws and standards in the state of Texas only. It is not a replacement for proper legal discourse between you and a lawyer and should not be considered as such.


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