How Far Do Background Checks Go?

Federal Time Limits

The Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA, sets time limits on what can be reported. For example, bankruptcies cannot be reported after 10 years; tax liens cannot be reported more than seven years after payment; accounts placed for collection cannot be reported after seven years; civil suits, civil judgments and any other negative information, after seven years. However, these restrictions do not apply to applicants for any job with a salary of $75,000 or more per year.

Criminal Convictions

Criminal convictions are an exception to the FCRA time limits. The FCRA allows criminal convictions to be reported at any time–there are no time limits. However, some states still follow the seven-year rule. For example, Texas does not allow reporting of criminal convictions more than seven years after disposition, release or parole. In Texas, the seven-year restriction does not apply to applicants to jobs with an annual salary of $75,000 or more. Therefore, although the Federal Government does not set time limit restrictions when reporting criminal convictions, it is always a good idea to be aware of your state regulations.


Time limits do not generally apply to minors. For example, juvenile criminal convictions cannot be reported, and credit bureaus do not generally keep records on minors. Also, because minors cannot legally give consent to a contract, any permission a minor gives to an employer to conduct a background check is invalid. For example, in Texas, contracts with minors are voidable, so any permission given to conduct a background check would not be valid.