Among the stringent controls the government places on certain jobs in high risk industries–banking, for example–is a requirement to conduct a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint background check.
Because the opportunity for fraud, theft and other crimes of a serious nature is substantially greater at such companies, the law requires that they make serious efforts to avoid hiring anyone who has been convicted of dishonest or illegal activities.
In order to conduct fingerprinting, a company must first apply for Originating Agency Identifier (ORI) status from the FBI, who will determine whether or not the company is justified in requiring fingerprinting of applicants or existing employees.
In the past, satisfying the requirement for fingerprinting in industries such as financial services meant that an applicant would have to go through the rather lengthy process of having their prints ink-rolled on a card, which would then be physically mailed to the correct channeling agencies, who would then check the prints against existing criminal records in the FBI database.
The results would then be mailed back to the requestor.
Inherent in this very manual process are a number of difficulties and inefficiencies. First, because the prints have to be put on paper in ink, there is the significant risk that the prints could become smudged or be rolled incorrectly, and would then be deemed unusable, but not before they had been sent to the channeling agency, who would then have to send the card back and request that the prints be taken again.
Second, regardless of how meticulously the prints are rolled, the turnaround time for this process could range up to 60 days, not including mailing time, because once the fingerprint cards arrive at the agency they must then be scanned and loaded into the database to be checked against existing records.
With the applicant market being as tight as it is, demands for minimized turnaround time and enhanced automation are continuously being made on screening providers. The industry has responded by providing LiveScan fingerprinting.
This innovation not only streamlines the entire fingerprinting process, but eliminates many of the possible obstacles of the ink-rolled process. LiveScan is an inkless process that digitizes the fingerprint, thus allowing it to be electronically transferred to the appropriate agencies.
When an applicant arrives at a LiveScan site, they must only present the proper forms and identification, and then their prints are scanned digitally and sent to a channeling agency to be searched in the FBI’s system.
This reduces the average turnaround time for a search that renders a “no hit” to about 72 hours.
Fingerprinting is generally driven by legislation that requires applicants to submit to a fingerprint background check, either on the state or federal level. If legislation requires fingerprints, you provide them by submitting by fingerprint cards or livescan fingerprints to the applicable agency. The agency then passes the cards to the state police or FBI.
In some instances, you can request a background check based on fingerprints, but again, this is based on legislation. In the State of Washington, for instance, you can submit fingerprints of volunteers for a statewide check. The fingerprints are just another way to identify the subject.
The Washington State Patrol runs the fingerprints to determine if the individual has a criminal record.
You can also request a background check by name and other identifiers. The WSP will not run the fingerprints through the national fingerprint database (FBI).
Every state is different with respect to software to submit to clearing houses using livescan. Illinois and California have the most developed systems.
Also, the FBI has regulations with respect to security clearances for those with access to the data stream for livescan submission. These regulations are so secret that they are not even published.