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Massachusetts Background Check for Employment: A Complete Guide [2023]


As a Massachusetts business owner or HR professional, finding the right employees for your company is critical to your success.

When you hire great employees, you can enjoy faster growth and increased profits while also protecting the safety of your workplace. Searching for your applicants’ names on the internet or calling their references is not enough to provide the information you need.

These types of basic checks are also inadequate for protecting you against employment problems and potential negligent hiring liability.

Conducting Massachusetts pre-employment background checks for all of your candidates is the best way to ensure you make compliant hiring decisions. The professionals at iprospectcheck understand how to conduct thorough, FCRA-compliant background checks.

We’ve completed thousands of Massachusetts background checks for employers throughout the state, including Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, Cambridge, and more.

We understand all aspects of the background check process and provide employment background checks in Massachusetts in a way that conforms to all relevant laws.

We’ve written this guide to provide more information about pre-employment background checks in Massachusetts and the applicable requirements.

Let’s get started.

Massachusetts Employment Background Check Laws: A Complete Overview

Employers in Massachusetts must comply with all relevant federal, state, and local laws governing pre-employment background checks. These laws frequently change with new legislation and court decisions, making it important for you to remain current.

Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks


The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a comprehensive federal law that applies to employers in every state. This law, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, governs how consumer reporting agencies can share and report information and how employers can use the consumer information they receive.

The FCRA protects the privacy and accuracy of consumer information held by consumer reporting agencies. Employers must secure authorization from applicants before they conduct background checks under the provisions of the FCRA.

If information revealed on a background check report leads you to make an adverse hiring decision, the law also requires you to go through a specific adverse-action process.


Employers must also be aware of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a law that is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Under this law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants and employees based on their protected characteristics.

For background checks, the EEOC advises employers to be careful when considering criminal history information. You should assess any criminal history information from a background check report individually and concerning the position you are hiring for.

Massachusetts State Laws on Employment Background Checks

The laws in Massachusetts governing background checks for employment are complex. You need to know several laws when you draft your company’s pre-employment background check policies and procedures.

Under M.G.L. ch.93 § 52, consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) may not report criminal history information about arrests that are older than seven years or information about bankruptcies and civil judgments that are older than 14 years. However, the FCRA’s time restrictions preempt the rule about bankruptcies and limit their reporting to 10 years.

Under M.G.L. ch.93 § 62, employers that decide against hiring an applicant based on information contained in a background report must follow a specific adverse action process. You must notify the applicant within 10 days in writing, and the notice must include the CRA’s name, address, and phone number. The notice should also include information about the applicant’s rights.

The Massachusetts Pay Equity Act prohibits employers from screening applicants based on their salary histories. This includes a prohibition on requesting information from applicants about their salary history or prior wages.

Massachusetts also has a ban-the-box law found in M.G.L. ch.151-B §4. This law applies to both public and private employers. You cannot ask applicants about criminal history information on applications.

When criminal history information is obtained later in the process, you must follow the adverse action procedures under the law if you decide against hiring the applicant based on the information. Employers must also specifically list the information from the background report on which they base their adverse hiring decisions.

What Shows up on a Massachusetts Background Check?

When you complete an employment background check in Massachusetts, the information you receive can be as comprehensive as you need, depending on the screening company’s resources and ability to collect relevant data.

Most employers in Massachusetts request a few key types of information, including criminal history, employment history, and educational qualifications. Depending on your company, you might also request other types of information such as driving records, social media checks, and others.

Criminal History

If a candidate has reportable criminal history information, you will see the following types of information:

  • Case number
  • Date of arrest
  • Charge(s)
  • Disposition of the case
  • Disposition date
  • Severity of the charge (felony or misdemeanor)
  • Sentencing information

Employment Verification

Some applicants exaggerate their employment histories on their job applications. When you request employment verification services from iprospectcheck, your report will include the names of each employer for which an applicant has worked. You will also see the applicant’s employment dates at each employer and the job titles he or she held.

Confirming this type of information can ensure you hire experienced candidates and avoid potential negligent hiring liability claims.

Education Verification

If your company needs to hire employees holding certain degrees or certificates, education verification can allow you to find qualified candidates. You will see the name of the institution your applicant attended, the attendance dates, and any degrees or certificates awarded.

This type of report helps you to ensure you are hiring qualified and trustworthy candidates.

How Far Back does an Employment Background Check Go in Massachusetts?

The FCRA places certain restrictions on how far back information can be reported on pre-employment background checks in Massachusetts. Under the FCRA, consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) cannot report arrest information for arrests that did not lead to convictions that are more than seven years old.

There is a salary-cap exception to the FCRA’s time restrictions if your position pays $75,000 or more. Other types of information that are subject to the FCRA’s time restrictions include judgments and adverse credit information.

At iprospectcheck, we always comply with the FCRA and relevant state laws. When you work with us, you will not see impermissible information in your background check reports.

The FCRA’s time restrictions do not apply to many other types of information, however. There is no limit on information about your applicants’ employment and educational records, for example.

How to Get a Background Check in Massachusetts

Employers in Massachusetts can request criminal history information with a name-based or fingerprint-based search through the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services. Schools and care providers can obtain background check reports through the Department of Early Education and Care’s Background Record Check program.

However, using these services will only provide limited information and may not include the types of information you need. For example, you may not find information about out-of-state criminal history records, employment history information, driving records, or educational and licensure records through these state-provided services.

The best method of conducting Massachusetts employment background checks is by working with iprospectcheck. We have comprehensive access to databases, allowing us to quickly return FCRA-compliant, complete, and accurate background check reports to our clients.

How Much Does a Background Check Cost in Massachusetts?

If you request name-based background checks from the state, you will be charged $25 per report. However, the information you might receive may not be complete and may include information you cannot use for employment purposes in the state.

Some companies in Massachusetts find online providers that promise free background checks. These types of companies should be avoided, however. They commonly provide unverified and inaccurate information, and you could be exposed to liability if you rely on the information they provide.

When you work with iprospectcheck, you receive comprehensive, FCRA-compliant reports quickly and for an affordable price.

We also offer many other types of background check reports that you can choose to meet your needs. If you anticipate needing more than 50 reports per year, contact us for a free quote. We offer deep discounts for volume orders.

How Long do Employment Background Checks Take in Massachusetts?

The length of time it might take for you to receive background check information for your prospective employees will depend on how you complete them. If you mail a request to the state, it will be processed within 15 days before being mailed back to you.

It can also take a few weeks to try to search through records online, contacting previous employers, and getting information from an applicant’s educational institutions without help. These types of search methods may also not identify all of the relevant information, leaving your company vulnerable.

When you work with iprospectcheck, you can feel confident that you will receive background check reports for your applicants that are comprehensive and FCRA-compliant.

Because of our advanced research abilities and access to numerous databases, we are often able to turn around reports quickly, allowing you to make faster and more informed hiring decisions.

iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Accurate, Compliant Massachusetts Background Checks

To conduct comprehensive, compliant Massachusetts employment background checks, you will need access to all necessary records about your applicants’ relevant criminal histories, education, employment experience, credentials, and other information.

By partnering with iprospectcheck, you can benefit from our extensive access to numerous reliable databases and resources as well as our professional staff. Our employees are fully trained in the collection and analysis of critical screening information for applicants. When you receive reports from us, you can be confident in the information’s completeness, currency, accuracy, and FCRA compliance.

We prioritize our customers’ needs and always work to exceed your expectations. We promptly respond to all inquiries and are prepared to answer any questions you might have during the process.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, contact iprospectcheck today: 888-808-9997

DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.