What Is PSV?

“Why is my background check taking so long?” When a client calls in asking this question, we take it very seriously. As an experienced and knowledgeable consumer reporting agency (CRA), we can usually provide thorough information on your candidate within three business days or less. However, every process has its challenges and there are some circumstances other than a slow-moving criminal background check service that may cause delays. To help you better understand the “why” next time your background check is taking longer than usual, here is an inside look at one of the most critical services we provide here at InCheck: primary source verifications (PSV).

What is PSV?

As a CRA, we are responsible for reporting the most accurate information as possible. For criminal background checks, this means going to the primary source, the entity closest to the information. If you ever played the telephone game growing up, you know how information is more likely to become distorted the further away you get from the original source. The same principle applies when doing primary source verification. When we obtain information from an instant database record search, we reach out to the primary source to verify that information. With criminal background checks, this means going to the local county court to obtain records.

How does PSV work?

In order to better understand how PSV works, it’s important that we review the two main products InCheck uses when doing criminal background checks: county searches and the national criminal database search (also known as a multi-state search).

County Court Searches: InCheck begins criminal background checks by searching the counties in which your candidate reports having lived. However, these initial PSVs only cover counties pulled from your candidate’s residential history. If your candidate committed a crime outside of his/her county of residence, perhaps if they work out of town or were on vacation, this record would not be discovered through these initial searches. That’s where the multi-state search becomes useful.

National Criminal Database Search (Multi-State Search): This database pulls information from a wide range of sources including county courts, exclusion sites, and department of corrections. The database allows us to cast a wider net and identify any potential criminal records outside of the initial county searches performed.

Combined, these two searches allow InCheck to ensure that we are providing the most accurate and comprehensive information on your candidate. To learn more about the multi-state search and county court searches, check out our list of services.

When is PSV necessary?

Besides the initial primary source verifications that are performed for any counties of residence for your candidate, there are other circumstances that may require PSV. While the multi-state search pulls useful data from a wide range of sources, this data is not always 100% up-to-date. Some of the data pulled may be archived files or cases that have been dismissed. Additionally, the database only searches records by name. If a record is found under the candidate’s name, it doesn’t always mean it’s your candidate. It may be someone else with the same name.

If the multi-state search pulls a potential record for your candidate, it is critical that InCheck performs PSV. There may be a serious charge of which you would want to be informed. Furthermore, we need to make sure that any records found on the multi-state search are up-to-date, for the correct person, and are reportable under any applicable state and/or federal restrictions. The only way to make sure that the information found is accurate is to verify records found on the multi-state search with records from the primary source.

Why do some PSVs take longer than others?

While we strive to do everything within our power to get background checks completed as quickly as possible, there are instances where PSV may take longer than expected. Some county courts have public access sites that allow us to perform PSV in-house almost instantly. In other cases, however, the only way to obtain these records is to dispatch a researcher to go to the court itself. Once the request is submitted to the court, it’s the responsibility of the county court clerk to look up the records. Court clerks often have a large number of record requests to fulfill every day, in addition to their other duties, so these requests are often dependent on when the clerk has time to perform the record searches. If the records are archived, a clerk-assisted record request could take even longer. Don’t let this worry you, however. InCheck’s team of investigation specialists are trained on the different record request processes for each county nationwide and have tools to track requests to ensure that records are obtained as quickly as possible.

When you are trying to secure the best candidates for your company, you need to know that your CRA is reporting accurate, up-to-date information on your candidates so you can make an informed hiring decision. While some PSVs may take longer than you or we would like, they are critical to the background check process.

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.