What is Electronic "Live Scan" Fingerprinting Technology?
Live Scan is an inkless, electronic means of capturing fingerprints in a
digitized format and then transmitting them to a state repository such as the Illinois State Police
and/or the FBI. Previously, fingerprints were taken by applying ink to each finger, then rolling
each finger on a fingerprint card. This method was inherently messy and prone to capturing poor
image quality. By processing fingerprints electronically, criminal history responses can be provided
within a matter of hours if received electronically or 3 -5 days if received by mail.
Fingerprints are then searched against a state criminal history database and/or the FBI criminal
database (where applicable).
Live Scan provides the fingerprint technician with the opportunity to retake a print several times to
ensure they are capturing the best image quality possible.
Live Scan "Fingerprint-Based" Background Checks vs. "Name-Based" Background Checks
So you thought a name based criminal background check was enough to get the information you needed?
The concerns with a “name based” criminal background check are:
- Name checks are performed using personal identifiers submitted by an individual, (name, sex,
race, etc.), meaning that results “are not” based on positive biometric identification.
- A “no record” response DOES NOT insure that conviction information does not exist under other
personal identifiers; likewise the return of a criminal history response, does not guarantee
that the record returned is that for the applicant being considered. Common names, alias names,
or maiden names can result in multiple hits, false hits, and no hit responses.
- It is common for criminal offenders to use false or alias names and dates of birth, which may
not be detected by a “name based” request. In this case a criminal history record could exist
under a previously used name. An applicant will intentionally use an alias name on a job
application other than the name used at the time of arrest with hopes the alias name will result
in a false no hit. Fingerprints....... being the only means of positive
identification will result
in the correct response every time!
According to a Corpus Christi Times newspaper article, dated March 30, 2016,
“fingerprinting is a biometric that can’t be faked, unlike names and Social Security
Numbers.” The article further cited one interesting case of a driver who had cleared the
background check, provided by a commercial background screening company, but when
fingerprints were taken they revealed the applicant had 24 aliases, five birth dates, 10
social security numbers, and an active warrant for their arrest – the only thing about
this applicant that was not a lie was her fingerprints.
- The Illinois State Police will not underwrite the accuracy of a “name based check,” and they
state that fingerprints are the only positive means of identification. In fact, they note in
- To insure that the information furnished by the Illinois State Police positively
pertains to the individual in question, a fingerprint inquiry should be submitted.
- Name based checks for non criminal justice inquiries are not accepted by the FBI.
The reasons why “fingerprint based” criminal history background checks are so Accurate are:
- Fingerprints are based on the fingerprint image data contained in the submission and unique to
the individual, Responses to a fingerprint based inquiry are based on POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION
(no multiple hits).
- Fingerprints provide for a Biometric Search of the Criminal History Database (CHRI).
- Fingerprints are the industry recognized gold standard of identification – no two individuals
have the same
fingerprints (not even identical twins).
- Electronic Live Scan fingerprinting also eliminates errors and multiple “hits” associated with
name checks and ensures the accuracy of the background check.
According to FBI Next Generation Identification (NGI), fingerprint-based checks submitted to the FBI
for civil fingerprinting purposes are more than double that for criminal checks. (70.32% to 29.68%,
as reported for FY 2019.)
FBI NGI monthly fact sheet (https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/ngi-monthly-fact-sheet/view)statistics
as of November 2018:
- The FBI NGI database contains the fingerprints of over 138 million individuals (both civil and criminal).
- The average response time of the Tenprint Rapsheet Request is less than 20 seconds.(Avg. FY 2018)