National Criminal Database Spotlight


One of the most common criminal background screening services is the National Criminal Database search. Although the database is the most requested background check component, it is also the most confusing to understand the scope of what is being delivered within a report.

Many clients believe there is one comprehensive criminal background search in the United States that can be accessed by third parties (entities outside of government).  Unfortunately, this is not the case because criminal record reporting varies greatly between counties and states across the country.

Criminal reporting via the National Criminal Database tool is limited to the information provided by county databases and the total number of counties that report varies based on the state.  However, even with these limitations, this search is still highly recommended due to it’s ability to locate potential criminal records on an applicant outside of their past places of residency. (For example, if a crime was committed while on vacation or visiting a friend in a location outside of their past residences.)

It is important to note, prior to making a decision that will adversely affect the applicant based on the results of the National Criminal Database search, it is required that clients perform the county criminal search where the record was located to confirm validity.

Not all background screening providers invest in the most current database tools.  To save on costs and provide lower pricing to their clients, some providers will purchase a fixed database once per quarter or worse, once every 6-12 months. Make sure to take the time to investigate how frequently the information is updated. As is so often true, with this search you may sometimes get what you pay for.

National Criminal Database Solution –

Pros – The least expensive option for locating potential criminal records across the U.S. Fast turn around time for results. Clear results may be reported instantly. Includes sexual offender index as well as many federal exclusions lists.

Cons – A database is only as good as the information reported into it from the counties and not all counties report.  Many counties in the U.S. have adopted county access fees to bring revenue into their state/county and do not want to provide their information at no charge via the National Criminal Database search. Personal identifiers are oftentimes lacking and unable to be confirmed unless additional searches are performed. Some background screening providers purchase a fixed database that quickly becomes outdated/inaccurate.


Recommendations:  Contact a CoreScreening Account Executive to find out more details about your specific needs in criminal reporting. We can make recommendations that ensure you understand what will be reported as well as what may be missed, based on the your location and/or typical focus areas in the country. CoreScreening only utilizes integrated, fully dynamic databases with the most current information available.

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