Fingerprinting: Is It Really All You Need?

By Andrea Morris


In theory, an FBI fingerprinting check is the ideal pre-hiring tool for employers. You simply have your hiring candidate send in his or her fingerprints and the FBI either sends back a record that will most likely end in the disqualification of your candidate, or they send back nothing at all. Either way, by state regulation, you’ve done everything you’re required to do as a conscientious business-owner, right? Maybe not.

Every day, thousands of businesses make crucial hiring decisions based on information provided to them by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Business owners depend on those reports for validity. But what happens if those reports are inaccurate or are omitting key details? Or worse, a case of mistaken identity? It happens more often than you think.

Imagine the horror of being informed that your job application was denied based on an arrest that never occurred. You request to see your file and realize you are reading a criminal’s record who just happens to have the same name you do. Cases of mistaken identity due to poor fingerprinting technique have the potential to cause lasting financial damage. Many victims spend years attempting the expensive process of rectifying government records, all the while being denied jobs due to a record that never actually existed.

Although tragic, cases of mistaken identity are by no means the only risks posed by fingerprinting checks. By the Justice Department’s own admission, nearly half of all FBI background records are incomplete. Criminal charges are often reduced, sometimes even dismissed completely, but these facts are not reflected in an FBI fingerprinting check. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly one-third of all felony arrests fail to result in a conviction. Most are simply reduced to misdemeanors.

Although background checks can contribute to workplace safety, inaccuracies in the FBI database mean that these checks are blocking about 600,000 Americans a year from jobs for which they may be perfectly qualified (Neighly, 2013).

What does this mean for you as an employer? It means that glaring inaccuracies and unintentional omissions in a government-run system you depend on could be preventing you from hiring qualified candidates. Worse still, basing hiring decisions on inaccurate FBI records may put you in direct violation of federal guidelines set by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Many industries in Texas including daycares, nursing homes and school districts, require an FBI fingerprint check in order to receive clearance for a job position. Theoretically, this is all that is needed to ensure a fair hiring decision. But how can an accurate hiring decision be reached when the government system used to verify candidates has proven to be so heavily flawed?

Name-based, pre-employment background investigations give employers a clear, complete portfolio of a hiring candidate. Using only legally obtained, permissible information, licensed background investigators can verify identity and provide employers with authenticated, authorized data while screening out protected information. Hiring candidates are protected from mistaken identity and unintentional discrimination, and businesses are protected from employment lawsuits regardless of their hiring decision.

The Meurig Group specializes in conducting name-based pre-employment background investigations that are fully compliant with all local, state and federal statutes, including those issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Our licensed investigators have authorized access to the sensitive information you need, and the ability to protect you and your hiring candidates from discrimination liabilities you can’t afford.

Are you getting an accurate picture of your hiring candidate? Let us find out.



Works Cited

Neighly, M. (2013). The faulty FBI files that can ruin your life. Retrieved from

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