Scherzer International is occasionally asked about the availability of a non-law enforcement “national criminal database” as some of our competition offers this service. The fact is that no such database exists.

    The FBI maintains the only comprehensive national criminal database and access to it is restricted to law enforcement agency use. The information offered by private vendors as a “national criminal database” is incomplete, unverified and unreliable for any purpose other than as a supplemental tool.  The reason that these databases are of such little value lies in the fact that there is no central criminal record database for the United States other than the FBI. Even the FBI records are not totally accurate as they are based on fingerprint data which is not always submitted in a consistent or usable manner.

    There are also wide variations in the reporting standards and requirements of individual states as well as local jurisdictions within the states. Thus, although a “hit” may appear in this type of database, it should only be used as an indicator that there may be a criminal record. Further research must be conducted to verify this information. Similarly, if there is no “hit” in a national criminal database, this does not mean that the subject has a clean criminal record as the FBI estimates that less than half of all state criminal records make it into any national database. Based on the variation in record accuracy and reporting it is clear that a “nohit” result in a “national criminal database” is of virtually no value. As a reminder, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that Pre-employment investigators always follow all “reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy” of information we present to the client. (FCRA 607b) FCRA Section 613 (a) (2) also requires “that the information is complete and up to date.” Pre-employment investigators should keep these requirements in mind whenever a Consumer Report is prepared. The requirements of the FCRA do not apply to the Business Background or

    Prospective Client Investigations. The Fallacy of a National Criminal Database