Conducting background checks on prospective employees help you avoid making costly mistakes and give you confidence in hiring. But what do you do with the background check reports after successfully filling the position? Background check reports usually contain sensitive information regarding your new employee’s identity, so you want to handle them with care and know the rules for disposal. The legislation surrounding reports and other information on applicants is vast and varied. Here are the basics:

How Long Must Employers Keep Records?

Depending on the status of a company, you are usually required to keep documents for at least one year according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Documents include anything related to employment and job candidates such as:

  • Application forms

  • Requests for reasonable accommodation

  • Records involving hiring, training and promotion

  • Documents regarding transfer, termination, and compensation

Private companies are required to keep these records for one year, while state and local governments and educational institutions must maintain records for at least two years. If an outside company has a sizeable contract with the government they must also maintain records for a minimum of two years.


In some cases, employers must keep records indefinitely. For example, if an employee files a discrimination claim against a company, the employment records must be maintained throughout the subsequent legal procedures.

Proper Disposal Methods

After the appropriate amount of time, you can finally destroy the records, if you choose. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the disposal regulations for organizations with sensitive information on individuals. As a consumer reporting agency, JD Palatine must also follow the proper disposal methods. You can find out if the rules apply to you and your organization on the FTC website. When it comes to destroying sensitive information, the disposal method depends on what type of records you have:


  • For hard copies, you must burn, pulverize, or shred records

  • For electronic files, you must erase them. Because electronic files can be more difficult to destroy, the FTC suggests hiring a document destruction contractor.


The hiring process is stressful enough without also having to worry about identity theft and security. So, make sure you store sensitive information properly and for the appropriate amount time before destruction. It’s also recommended you keep track of the personnel information you have. If you have records of the personnel records, you will be able to determine if something has gone missing. If you have any more questions about how to handle consumer reports appropriately, please contact us!