Real Estate Fingerprinting Requirements and Tips


In Washington State, real estate brokers and
managing brokers are required to undergo a criminal background check that requires the
submission of fingerprints. Let’s take a brief look at this process and a few tips
to help ensure it goes smoothly for you. In 2008, The Washington State Legislature
required all real estate licensees to have their fingerprints taken and submitted to
the Department. This requirement went into effect July 1, 2010. You can have the fingerprint procedure done
at any fingerprint service provider or most law enforcement agencies. The fees they charge and hours of availability
will vary from agency to agency. There are two ways fingerprints are commonly
taken: the traditional method using black ink to capture the prints, or electronically
using computer scanner in place of ink. Either method is acceptable. Whichever method is used, these tips will
help you end up with fingerprints that will be accepted by the Washington State Patrol
when they process your background check. You will be charged a fee to have your fingerprints
taken and a fee for the department to get the background check from the Washington State
Patrol and the FBI. When having your fingerprints taken, it’s
important to let the technician control the process. Relax your hand and fingers to allow
them to be guided easily. The technician will need to be able to roll your fingers freely
and smoothly to get good prints. After completing your fingerprint card, the
technician should examine it to make sure all of the prints look good. If there is a
problem with one of your prints, you will not have to start over from the beginning.
The technician can usually reprint your finger on a special sticker called a “retab”
and place it over the inadequate print on your card. The fingerprinting process is concluded with
you cleaning your fingers if ink was used and the technician certifying your fingerprint
card. Let’s look at some common reasons fingerprint
cards are rejected. Folding the fingerprint card for mailing is
a common reason cards are rejected. If we receive a fingerprint card that’s
folded, any creases can compromise the legibility of the print and it may be rejected. There are a few basic issues you’ll want
to watch for. Fingerprints can be smudged or smeared, the
prints could be too light, the finger might not be rolled in the center of the block,
and some people just have fingers that are difficult to print. Make sure you allow plenty of time for your
fingerprinting appointment. It will help you relax and get good prints. Some folks are
more difficult to fingerprint than others, so it is difficult to predict exactly how
long it will take. It’s important to allow plenty of time to
be fingerprinted because if the technician feels rushed it’s less likely that you are
going to have quality prints. If your fingerprint card is rejected, your
license will remain on an active status and you may be asked to take your fingerprints
again. Let’s take a look at some actual fingerprint
submitted to DOL that were rejected by the Washington State Patrol or FBI. This is an example of a fingerprint card that
is too light. There are no identifying marks or ridges that would allow the technician
to determine who this individual is. This is an example of a fingerprint card that
was taken incorrectly. These four fingers must be in this box. This box must only contain
the left thumb, and this is only the right thumb. There should only be one fingerprint
in this box for identification purposes. Here is an example also of a fingerprint not taken
properly. In this box there appears to be a fingerprint that was not contained within
this box. This is a good example of fingerprint card
that was rejected. It clearly indicates or identifies that the individual tried to take
their own prints. You can see in this box right here that there are multiple prints,
we’re not sure what that is, there appears to be excessive ink where you could not appear
to see the ridges, and there is not enough of the fingerprint for any technician to run
through any system to properly identify the individual. That’s why it’s very important
that applicants or licensees have their fingerprints taken by local law enforcement or a provider
that is experts in this service. You may be wondering what happens if your
fingerprint card is accepted and the fingerprint background check reveals a criminal conviction.
Here’s what to expect if that happens: If the fingerprint results return a positive
indication of a criminal activity, there are several processes that can take place. Our
office would review that information to determine: was that conviction previously disclosed and
reviewed by the department, how long ago that conviction occurred, is there a connection
to the real estate profession, and, is there a public safety concern involved? Any of this
information can be referred to our investigations unit for further inquiry and possible disciplinary
action. Hopefully this has been helpful. If you do
have further questions, please call our Regulatory Unit at 360 664-6484.

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