Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the background investigation cost?

We have an all-in-one screening package that costs only $15 per applicant*. Details on what is included in the reports are explained in the "Features" tab in the main menu.

*Regular cost is $20 per applicant when submitting the information by fax or email. Please use the "Submit Applicant" link in the above link to receive the discounted rate of $15.

How do I pay my bill?

  • We will generate your invoice during the first week of each month and alert you by email once it is ready to be paid. If you don't have an email account or prefer not to receive notifications, we will send your invoice by regular mail.
  • Online Payment - after you receive your invoice, you may pay online using a debit/credit card by selecting the "My Invoices" section on your account page at landlords.org/my-account.
  • Pay by check - Please include your invoice number with your check and send payment to PO BOX 6186 Olympia, WA 98507. You should also make your check payable to WLA Screening Services.
  • Pay by Phone - Payment can also be processed by calling us at 253-459-3408 between Mon-Fri 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.

Where can I find my results?

When the results are ready, you will receive an email notification with a link to view the reports. You can also request to receive the results via fax by contacting our office.

How soon can I expect my results?

We can usually get back you during the same business day if your request is sent before noon. If you don't hear from us within 24 hours after your screening request, please call or email our office right away. You can find our contact information at the bottom of this page.

Do I need to get permission from the applicant?

Yes, you do. If you want to order and review any kind of background check in order to determine somebody's eligibility for employment or housing, you need to ask their permission. Two forms specifically must be completed by the applicant, the authorization, and the disclosure.

My applicant changed their mind. How do I cancel an order?

If a cancellation is needed, please contact us as soon as possible by phone or email. You can also reach us online by clicking the green chat button found at the bottom right corner.

What information do I need to know about the applicant to run a background investigation?

The basics are:

  • candidate's full name (first, middle and last name)
  • full date of birth
  • Social Security Number

Criminal records are NOT identified by Social Security Number, but it may be used in other pieces of the background check such as locating alternate names (which are used in the criminal searches).

Is the same background investigation package appropriate for all applicants in all industries?

There is no standard background check package because different industries, and even different companies within the same industry will have different criteria's regarding what constitutes an eligible candidate. Your company should have criteria's set up based on the necessities of the rental unit. To minimize the risk of any fair housing violations, you must use the same criteria's for all applicants. When creating the criteria's, remember that if screening guidelines are too lenient you may lease to criminals, welcoming unnecessary risks to your property and current tenants. If screenings are too stringent, you may miss opportunities to lease to well-qualified applicants who pose no threat.

How are the background investigations done?

Many searches simply require the client to enter the relevant information into a database, yielding instant results. However, most services take longer due to the need for a live record search. A few services require a combination of database and live searches and some take more of a unique approach.

Our database-driven searches include criminal history searches, civil history, name and address history, national security lists, sex offender registry and SSN verification/trace searches, while live searches include county, state, and federal criminal history.

Some services require phone calls. Those include education and employment verification as well as reference checks. How long each of these services takes also depends on a few other factors.

The most important contributing factor (aside from how information is gathered) is the difference between hits and clears. For instance; many companies that run a criminal database check will know instantly if there is no record. However, depending on the type of search ordered, if the database returns a hit (court record), the information may need to be verified before it can be passed on.

How far into the past can investigations go?

The FRCA limits bankruptcies to 10 years and civil lawsuits, judgments, tax liens, collection amounts and any other adverse information (excluding criminal convictions) to 7 years unless you have legal authorization to access records farther back. Criminal convictions are the only source of information which has no federal limitation. That being said, just because the federal government has no limitation regarding criminal convictions, that does not mean that the states also do not have a limitation. Many states have enacted a more restrictive version of the FCRA. In Washington, for example, criminal convictions can only be reported for 7 years. For this reason, the industry standard is to only go back 7 years unless specifically agreed upon to do otherwise. 

What happens if I choose to decline an applicant based on the background investigation?

If you intend to decline an employment or housing applicant based on what was found in the background check, you are legally obligated to follow the adverse action process as described in the FCRA requirements. (landlords.org has sample pre-adverse-action and adverse action notices available for you to send out.) In addition, each company should have some sort of a dispute process, which you should be aware of and know your part in. We will be happy to help with that if you have any questions.

Sources

Why Background Checks are Essential, http://www.business2community.com/human-resources/why-background-checks-are-essential-0476011

Fair Credit Reporting Act, http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/articles/pdf/pdf-0111-fair-credit-reporting-act.pdf

California Civil Code Section 1785.10-1785.19.5, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=01001-02000&file=1785.10-1785.19.5

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2006, October 27). Survey of Workplace Violence Prevention, 2005. Retrieved May 28, 2008 from http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osnr0026.pdf

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2008). Chart, Manner in which workplace fatalities occurred, 2006. Retrieved June 3, 2008 from http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0005.pdf

Bradley, D.B. III & Moore, H.L. (2002). Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship. Small Business Hiring Mistakes Can Lead to Workplace Violence. Retrieved December 31, 2008 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5424/is_200210/ai_n21315581/pg_5?tag=artBody;col1

University of Florida (2011) 2010 National Retail Security Survey. Retrieved November 17, 2011 from http://soccrim.clas.ufl.edu/criminology/srp/finalreport_2010.pdf. (password protected)

HR.com. (2008). Employee Theft Rising, Survey Says. Retrieved January 2, 2009, from http://www.hrtools.com/news/alerts/employee_theft_rising_survey_says.aspx.

Physorg.com. (2007, April 28). Another Worker Pays the Price for Fabricating Resume. Retrieved December 31, 2008, from http://www.physorg.com/news96987628.html