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Live Scan is an inkless, electronic means of capturing fingerprints in a digitized format and then transmitting them to 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 the State Of Illinois 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? Think again!

The concerns with a “name based” criminal background check are:

  • Name checks are performed using personal identifiers submitted by an individual, (name, height, weight, etc.), meaning that results “are not” based on positive biometric identification.

  • A “no record” response DOES NOT insure that conviction information does not exist; likewise the return of a criminal history 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, but the applicant uses their birth name on the job application and therefore the name run in the name check is the birth name and therefore the criminal history is missed. According to a recent Corpus Christie 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 on their response: **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 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.

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