Lawrence Ryan Investigations Chicago Illinois
Background Check in Illinois

Illinois Background Check: Everything You Need to Know for Best Results

Background checks are an important piece of the puzzle of an applicant’s identity. They help an employer avoid negligent hiring, defamation lawsuits, workplace violence, theft, and fraud committed by their employees. Moreover, since there are cases when a job applicant may exaggerate or lie about their professional past, background checks are always the fastest way to get to the truth about a candidate and possibly expose offenses and the existence of criminal history.

More and more private employers hire investigators to conduct an Illinois background check for their job applicants to potentially uncover criminal convictions, an arrest record, or if they have been found guilty of stealing trade secrets. And no, this is not an extraordinary measure! Working with background check specialists to conduct criminal history checks is a reasonable thing to do if you want to make sure you’re hiring a trustworthy and reliable employee that won’t hurt the company.

Furthermore, background checks prove to be a useful tool for families who want to hire a caregiver for elderly people or vulnerable or disabled adults. A carefully conducted background check can protect their family member or friend from financial exploitation, theft, or fraud committed by the person entrusted to care for them. Whether you hire a caregiver based on recommendations or make the decision to work with an agency, you need to make sure the person close to your beloved has a clean background check.

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With the abundance of background check sites that provide access to a free Illinois background check, many wonder why people are willing to cover the cost of hiring a private investigator to deliver background check reports. Free background checks don’t provide the necessary details to make an informed employment decision. They’re superficial and conducted either by persons who are not specialized in criminal background checks or by computers that just follow algorithms and can easily return the wrong background check because of a case of mistaken identity.

What can a background check include?

Illinois background check laws and the Illinois Department of Human Rights clearly state that employers must check all applicants equally regardless of their race, sex, or religion for the application process to be fair and non-discriminatory. An Illinois background check needs to be conducted in the same manner for all applicants and can include:

What Do Background Checks Include

  • reference checks
  • driving records
  • vehicle registration
  • social security number
  • workers’ compensation
  • court records
  • education records
  • criminal records
  • sex offender registry check
  • credit history
  • bankruptcy
  • drug test records
  • medical records
  • property ownership
  • past employers
  • social media and internet checks

What can’t a background check include?

There are strict rules and laws that need to be followed when an employer conducts an Illinois background check. Background check reports are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state laws. Employers in Illinois need to comply with laws concerning criminal background checks, credit checks, credit history, and driver’s record information.

The Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees to conduct a criminal background check on an employee without first notifying them that they have been selected for an interview or without making them a conditional job offer.

Also, private employers in Illinois can’t ask for the arrest record of a candidate if they have 15 or more employees. Moreover, private companies in Cook County and Chicago can’t ask a candidate if they have committed a criminal offense or have a conviction record if they have fewer than 15 employees without notification or a conditional job offer.

However, there are some jobs where an employer is allowed to check the complete record and conviction history of a candidate. This usually happens if a candidate sends in an application for the position of armed security guard, child care worker, health care worker, school worker, and other similar jobs. Employers in Illinois can never ask about arrests that did not lead to conviction or records or that have been sealed or expunged.

If you want to know how far a background check goes in Illinois, the answer is pretty simple. As far as the employer wants! An Illinois background check is not limited to a certain number of years. It’s true the FCRA establishes clearly that, on a national level, background checks can go as far as 7 years, but it’s also true that each state can pass its own law that can modify this number.


How long does a background check take in Illinois?

As with anything else in this day and age, everything needs to happen fast! Since background checks contain vital information about an applicant, employers are eager to receive the reports as soon as possible so they can continue with the hiring process or dismiss the candidate and move on with their recruitment process. So how long does a background check take in Illinois?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a standard period of time set for background checks in Illinois. The duration depends on the scope of the background check. If the employer is willing to pay for an Illinois background check, things will move faster and they will be able to receive an accurate report in two to four business days if there aren’t unforeseen circumstances that complicate the investigation:

  • identity checks – instant or up to two business days
  • education verification – two to three business days or longer for international educational checks
  • employment verification – two to three business days or longer for international jobs
  • professional qualifications verification – two to three business days
  • credit checks – one to two business days in the United States; ten to 20 days businesses outside the United States
  • criminal history checks – one to two business days
  • global watch list checks – one to two business days

How to get a background check in Illinois

The fastest and most reliable way to get a background check is to hire a private investigator. Lawrence Ryan Investigation provides background checks that deliver the information an employer needs before hiring a candidate. Our private investigators don’t limit their background checks to general information, criminal records, driving, credit reports, or any other type of information that can be easily accessed by simply entering the social security number in a database.

Lawrence Ryan Investigation collects extensive information and delivers a comprehensive Illinois background check report that includes everything from the applicant’s address history and alias names to business affiliations, associates, relatives, properties, and bankruptcies.

Moreover, our private investigators know the limitations imposed by law enforcement agencies and federal agencies for background checks in Illinois and always act within the law. We always ask for legal advice when in doubt and provide exclusively the type of information the law allows employers to access. This way, we protect our clients from potential disputes and make sure they avoid financial penalties and class action litigation.

When conducted without regard for the law’s provisions and consequences for employment practices, background checks can expose the employer to legal actions, sanctions, and penalties while affecting its reputation and credibility.

This article was originally posted on May 9th, 2019. It has been updated and revised to reflect important changes on November 5th, 2021.

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