From renting an apartment to securing employment, background checks are a part of everyday life. However, if you have a negative mark on your background, you could have trouble even meeting the most basic needs. If you have wondered how a modern background check works in the state of Oregon and what you can do to correct information, here are a few tips.
What Is a Background Check?
Background checks give a detailed look into the life of an individual. These checks are run for various reasons, including employment, rental history, and criminal activities. This type of background information looks at the person's past, and rightly or wrongly is used to determine the reliability of the individual.
What Does a Criminal Background Check Show in Oregon?
With a candidate's criminal record, background checks indicate whether a person has an arrest or conviction. These screening methods might also look at a person's driving record or whether they are a registered sex offender in the state.
Oregon Civilian Databases
Several types of background checks can be accessed by the public (or civilians) in the state. Many of those companies that offer background checks will search through those publicly available files, including local, county, state, and federal records. These checks often look for:
- Convictions of misdemeanors and felonies
- Court records
- Sex offenses
- Prison records
Some private companies will pull state and local records for their own type of criminal check. Many of these databases are not comprehensive, but the general public uses them to investigate the backgrounds of others. Companies like BeenVerified, Spokeo, and others often offer those services.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act says that businesses like BeenVerified must take reasonable steps to make sure the information they publish is accurate. If the information is thought to be inaccurate a dispute may be filed against the consumer reporting agency, and the Federal Trade Commission, which is responsible for enforcing the FRCA, can sue them for non-compliance (FTC, 2021). Many of these sites only update their public records a handful of times a year so they quickly fail the accuracy standard. Fortunately, to avoid a considerable number of lawsuits from any of the millions of people they publish information about, they have a process to voluntarily remove yourself from their site. Almost all of these sites have ways to remove your name and info if you just ask.
Removing Your Information from Internet Background Checks
Here are three commonly used websites that sell your information along with links to request they remove your information.
- BeenVerified: https://www.beenverified.com/app/optout/search
- Instant Checkmate: https://www.instantcheckmate.help/remove-information/
- LexisNexis: http://www.lexisnexis.com/terms/privacy/remove.asp
A more comprehensive list that is updated a few times a year can be found here.
Are County and State Records Available in Oregon?
In some cases, you can search a specific Oregon county record for conviction information. Most of these records include the arrest and conviction data of a particular individual. The state of Oregon also has its own background check systems. Local jurisdictions report their information to the Oregon State Police, who are the keepers of Oregon criminal histories.
Order Your Record from Government Criminal Record Databases
Many local, county, and federal databases are accessible to the public. Under Oregon state law, the public does have access to state criminal records in the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division.
OREGON STATE POLICE
To request a record of Oregon arrests and convictions from the Oregon State Police, a person has to provide a set of fingerprints, payment and a request to the Oregon State Police. The request can be made on the State Police website. Oregon Criminal History Record Check.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
To request a nation-wide record from the FBI, the process is similar to that with the Oregon State Police. One must provide payment, a set of fingerprints, and make a request for a Identity History Summary Check. The process takes about two weeks.
Law Enforcement Data System (LEDS)
In the state of Oregon, there is a database called the law enforcement data system (LEDS). Within that system, certified employees can look up information on records for protection orders, warrants, stolen property, criminal history, and other types of investigative files. However, LEDS is not available to the general public. If someone wants to have access to these databases, they must pass a training program and will generally need to be sponsored by a government employer.
National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
The National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, is a database maintained by the FBI. They consider this database to be the "lifeline of law enforcement." While it is not entirely comprehensive, this database contains records from law enforcement agencies and courthouses in Oregon. It can be accessed throughout the year, and it is regularly updated. Law enforcement and others in the criminal justice field rely heavily on the NCIC database.
Some of the records in this database include registries for:
- Sex offenders
- Supervised release
- Wanted persons
- Identity theft
- Violent person
- NCIC denied transaction
- US Military conviction & disciplinary records
Since the NCIC is managed by the FBI you can order an identity history summary through the FBI and receive the NCIC criminal history information that is about yourself.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was established in 1993. Any federal firearm licensee (FFL) in Oregon, including pawn shop dealers, gun shop owners, and retailers, must run a person's information through the NICS. This database will determine if a person can legally purchase a firearm. The FBI operated this database, but it was established by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Local law enforcement agencies in the state can also provide information to the files. This database identifies those with mental health issues who are prevented from owning or buying a gun.
Can This Information Be Removed?
In many cases, with the private databases, incorrect information can be removed from the database. However, in the state of Oregon, a person can have their record legally expunged or set aside from government-operated databases by successfully filing a motion under ORS 137.225. This process takes four to six months, and only certain crimes in the state can be removed.
While expungement will remove your arrest from those commonly accessed databases, some federal databases may still contain your criminal record. While you are not required to hire an attorney for the expungement process, it is highly recommended.
Not all background check databases in the state of Oregon are created equal. Some are privately held, and the general public can access them. Others are only available for law enforcement purposes, and their information is protected from the public view. In the state, the LEDS is available for those who are properly trained to use the system.
Clear Your Record with Legal Help
Understanding the difference between federal, local, and private databases can be confusing. Criminal records can lead to a variety of issues in securing a job or a home. However, with expungement, you can clear certain crimes from your record. If you are eligible for expungement, contact an experienced legal team in Oregon. At Lohrke Law, our legal team can handle these vital issues to restore your reputation.