The Seven Year Rule – When and How it Applies

[Phone rings]

Ann: “Cutting Edge, this is Ann.”

Customer: “Christmas is over, New Year’s is over, the Super Bowl is over and there’s nothing fun to do.”

Ann [loves fun almost as much as background checks]: “Well, don’t be so glum, chum. I can tell you a really fun background check story!”

Customer [wonders if jumping out the third-floor window will get him out of this]: “Yeah, that’s sounds great. . .”

January brought me a bevy of background check basics, from both my clients and a couple applicants.

Let’s start with the Seven-Year Rule.

I have a client that just completed a merger and acquisition, expanding their reach further across the country. One the contacts from a new state didn’t understand why we were sending her conviction records from 1995. Fair enough—dude, I know 1995 was. . .25 years ago?

She nicely explained the “seven-year rule” to me –

you can’t report records that are more than seven years old.

Well, some of the time you can.

  1. Not all states have a seven-year rule. Actually, there are only 8 states that have adopted an analog or “mini-me” Fair Credit Reporting Act Statute.
  2. This particular individual was convicted in 1995 of three counts of armed robbery, three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and burglary. He got 20 years in the state penitentiary and was released around 2015—which is five years ago. The seven-year rule (in the states that have one) often applies to the release date, not the conviction date.
  3. Furthermore, the state in which he was convicted didn’t have any limitations on what a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA—that’s me) can report.

What are the take-aways here?

  1. Know and understand your rights and responsibilities as an employer and what information you can use. Have solid policies. Just because I can report it doesn’t mean you have to use it. Be judicious in your evaluations.
  2. Know that different states have different statutes. Some limit reporting not just by the passage time, but on salary caps. Know those rules for your locale—because beyond the state, it may vary by municipality.

Need more information? Give us a call at (714) 587-9166 or drop an email to You know I’d love to talk about it.