Ohio residents have been “falsely lulled into feeling secure with Ohio’s and the federal background check system,” said Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein in November 2020. The state-maintained background check database is missing substantial amounts of criminal history information. As reported by Courthouse News, “a minimum of 27% of Ohio felony convictions in 2015 were not reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Between 2015 to 2018, at least 90 courts had gone months at a time without reporting [many felony and domestic abuse convictions].”
The failures of the Ohio system highlight the dangers of relying only on government-run databases. When someone applies for a job or an apartment, the best way to protect the public is through at least a commercial name-based check. Commercial checks by a background check company is more compressive because they can look across all jurisdictions in a region or the U.S. Commercial checks by a background check company is fairer to applicants because those applicants are protected by accuracy and dispute standards established by federal and state law. No such protections are available when a job or an apartment applicant has only a government-run background check.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More