How Far Back Does a Background Check Go?

If you’re applying for a job, trying to get credit, or applying for an apartment or house, you’re most likely wondering how far back a background check can go. This guide explains.

How Far Back Does a Background Check Go?

In the state of Illinois, someone can check your criminal history as far back as they want. If they’d like to look back 20, 30 or even 70 years, they may – and the things someone finds on your record may prevent you from getting a job or finding a place to live.

However, there’s one exception. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law, says that some employers can only look at arrest records for the seven years prior to an application, and for ten years when it comes to conviction records. Some states have different rules.

For other background checks that aren’t related to employment, someone can look as far back in your criminal history as they’d like. That means a landlord can peek at your records from two decades ago, and so can anyone else who wants to run a background check on you.

Related: What do you have to tell employers about your expunged records?

What Does Someone Need to Do to See Your Criminal Record?

Running a background check is pretty simple for most people; there are a lot of agencies that a person can pay to check your criminal history. That means a layperson – not even an employer, landlord or creditor – can simply come up with some cash and peer into your past. For many people, that’s reason enough to clear their criminal history.

Related: Expungement FAQ

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Expungement or Sealing?

If you’re tired of your criminal past coming back to bite you, we may be able to help. Call us right now at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below so we can talk about your case.

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