The State Police is the law enforcement agency in charge of providing background checks for the state and maintaining the criminal records repository. They offer criminal histories to the general public via their web portal called the Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History (PATCH) system. However, they claim that 85% of the time, “no record” is returned for the search. They also have a form on their website where anyone can request a criminal background report on someone. They charge a $22 fee and an additional $5 to have it notarized. Companies, agencies and other professional associations that need a lot of them on a regular basis can register for an account. Individuals must use the system as a non-registered user. The public can request up to ten criminal background reports at a time.
An official PA background check from the state will show primarily criminal history information. Things like arrest, convictions, warrants, DUIs/DWIs, felonies, misdemeanors, police reports, incident reports, traffic violations, incarcerations, parole and probation details along with sex offenses will be on there. The report will also include personal information like name, address, aliases, height, weight, race, date of birth, age, along with mug shots if available.
Along with the criminal reports they also provide information on child abuse history clearance.
Pennsylvania background reports are used for employment, tenant screening, insurance, mortgage credit, and other financing decisions, professional licensing, permits and government security clearances. An official PA background report focuses on criminal records and are to be used for the specific purposes listed above.
There are also public background reports which are informal and are aggregated from a variety of public and private sources. These types of background checks in PA are used for looking up long lost friends, love interests or relatives, checking someone out before going into business with them or dating them, verifying a potential roommate, retrieving court records or just looking into your own public record.
Some of the types of information provided in these reports are:
Marriages and Divorces
Auto, Vessel, Aircraft Ownership
Current and Past Addresses
Phone and Email Address
Relatives and Associates
Social Media Accounts and More
PA is an open records state and allows the general public access to someone’s criminal records. There are many reasons why an individual would want to look this information up. Criminal background records will include local law enforcement information along with court records and most often will include arrests, warrants, police records, DUIs/DWIs, felonies, misdemeanors, convictions, incarcerations along with probation and parole violations.
The state is a point of contact state with gun dealers, and they must contact The Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”) to obtain a PA state police background check before selling firearms to anyone in the state. The PA criminal background check will include mental health records and juvenile records as well. Gun dealers must not sell to anyone labeled with a “temporary delay.” Private sales must be conducted through licensed sellers so that a background check or license can be verified first. So far in 2018, the state has completed 923,206 Pennsylvania gun background checks for the purchase of guns.
On average 1,021,943 gun checks annually are being conducted through NICS in California.
PA’s background check laws pertain primarily to employment and how companies can use the information in them before hiring a potential candidate. Employers are subject to both state and federal mandates in regard to criminal history reports.
The state law dictates that an employer can use background checks in their hiring process but can only assess criminal convictions if they directly relate to the job they would be doing. If an employer chooses not to hire someone based on their criminal record, they must inform the applicant in writing. All Pennsylvania employers are also federally mandated to comply with both The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
According to The Fair Credit Reporting Act, when using sites like InfoTracer to obtain a background report, the information cannot legally be used to determine credit, employment, tenant screening or any other eligibility requirements for business or professional use.
In 2017, there have been 511 victims of online romance scams in Pennsylvania, resulting in $5.7 million adjusted losses associated with these complaints.
|Age Group||Count||Amount Loss|
|20 - 29||3,225||1,284,870|
|30 - 39||1,265||4,502,156|
|40 - 49||1,266||3,789,747|
|50 - 59||1,469||7,499,354|