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Top 6 Problems Using Livescan

The Top 6 Problems with Using Livescan for Background Checks

We run into it quite often and it has built quite the following. Livescan. Originally developed for law enforcement use to make ID and booking of suspected criminals fast and easy. Many myths have developed since its conception and with more and more government agencies requiring it for both licensure and employment for public positions; it would appear it is an infallible tool. Unfortunately, it’s far from the case and each year employers and property owners are burned because they rely on what they perceive to be reliable, accurate and up to date data from a single source. We have outlined the top 6 reasons you should think twice about using only Livescan.

  • Only Retainable Charges

For the longest time, and still currently in some jurisdictions, only retainable charges were subject to fingerprinting and storage by DOJ/FBI. What are retainable charges? They could be classified as the charges that DOJ or law enforcement wanted to keep track of due to their serious nature. Some crimes such as DUI, Drunk in Public, minor vandalism, and other misdemeanors would not come up under Livescan. In many cases, employers would want to know this information.

  • Dispositions

Government….what else can we say. Sometimes it takes a while to get things done (if they get done at all). Updating records and keeping accurate accounts of each crime is tough under the best of circumstances. We have found a large amount of flat-out mistakes as well as out-of-date records in Livescan results. If a case gets dismissed later on in the process, or if it gets expunged or sealed, often times Livescan is very slow to update. On top of the lack of accuracy and completeness, often times sentencing information is missing as well.

  • No Address History

One of the best tools in the background screening industry is the use of an Address History Locator or SSN Trace. Livescan does not provide this. Without this very valuable tool, you are unable to determine the best place to search for records. It’s no different than fishing in the Pacific Ocean. If you are looking for specific fish, you can use a fish finder…or not.

  • May Not Be Legal For You

The FCRA is very clear on this; if your background investigation is done by a 3rd party and you pay for the background check, and if it’s for pre-employment, credit or tenant use; the Fair Credit Reporting Act applies. That means all the information gleamed from that background must be compliant with state and federal laws. Many cases will appear that are out-of-scope and considered non-reportable when using Livescan.

  • No Real Value

The average costs for a Livescan runs between $45 and $60 and can take an average of 10 days to get results. Often times for much less money and less than half the time, you can get an Industry Standard Background Check done by a professional firm. This means the information you receive is up to date, comprehensive and compliant.

  • Doesn’t Always Confirm Identity

Always remember, Livescan uses fingerprints to link records together. If your applicant has never been fingerprinted; all you are doing is creating a first record. It is imperative that the operator input all of the information correctly as well as your applicant providing truthful information. There are a lot of variables there. There are no other tools available through Livescan to help ensure its accuracy, unlike traditional comprehensive searches. Consent Based SSN Trace Verification, SSN Validation, Social Media Searches, Income Tax Results as well as other searches are available from most professional screening firms to help combat these issues.

The Bottom Line

Some industries are mandated to use Livescan. That is fine and you need to do what regulations advise you to do. That being said, Livescan is a very limited tool and probably shouldn’t be used as a stand-alone product. Please remember; just because it is required for licensure, doesn’t mean it can legally be used for employment screening purposes.

If you have any questions about your pre-employment or tenant screening program, you are urged to contact Dusty Lefdal at Employer’s Investigative Services, Toll Free at (866) 350-5638 or visit

(866) 350-5638

P.O. Box 906, Orland, CA 95963, USA

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©2018 by Employers Investigative Services. California pre-employment background checks, drug testing and occupational health screening services