Why you should know what is in your background check, State criminal records report an arrest but not the case disposition, The subject is the victim of criminal identity theft, The person’s name appears as an alias in court records even when a mistake has been corrected, A criminal conviction is reported even though a period of probation or deferred adjudication was served with the understanding that a conviction would not result

Background Checks are Good for Business

Background Checks Help Prevent Hiring Mistakes, background checks, criminal background checks, employee screeningOvation allows the user to order professional background checks on new hires or existing employees with the click of a button. Our criminal background check include a National Criminal Check, a Sex Offenders List check, a Homeland Security check as well as a verification of the social security number provided by the candidate or employee. A DMV check is optional.

Why employers check the background of potential employees

A recent SHRM survey reports that 70% of companies report doing background checks on all candidates. Most companies (62%) that do background checks, do so after an offer has been made.

Reasons Employers order Background Checks on Employees

53% of job applications contain inaccurate info and 10% of all background checks reveal a serious implication (Society of Human Resource Professionals)

  • Workplace violence accounts for 18% of all serious crimes (Bureau of Justice Statistics)
  • 30% of business failures are caused by employee theft    (American Management Association)
  • Costs of a bad hire are about 30% of the first year’s potential salary  (US Department of Labor)
  • 16% of executive resumes contain false academic claims   (Business Week)
  • Negligent hiring lawsuits are on the rise. If an employee’s actions hurt someone, the employer may be liable. The threat of liability gives employers reason to be cautious in checking an applicant’s past. A bad decision can wreak havoc on a company’s budget and reputation as well as ruin the career of the hiring official. Employers no longer feel secure in relying on their instinct as a basis to hire.   (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)

Background check guidelines

There are several guidelines that should give a business help in using background checks correctly and not exposing themselves to discriminatory hiring practice. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) requires that employers give detailed disclosures to employees prior to initiating background checks and also when an adverse action (choose not to hire) is contemplated and when such adverse action is finalized. These notices are also required by more than half of the states in the US. The lesson here is to make sure the background check used is performed by a reputable, compliant company. Hint: any background company that will do a search without the candidate’s consent, likely isn’t a very thorough one.

Another consideration to avoid discriminatory hiring is to have a valid reason for taking action on the results of a background check. Merely having a criminal record is not a valid reason for disqualifying a person for hire. Some circumstances require stricter standards than others. Jobs that involve working or being around children or handicapped people, access to customers’ homes, driving vehicles, access to drugs or explosives, or access to money or valuables might influence hiring decisions. However, if the nature of a candidate’s offense does not put the business at risk, it is not OK to have zero tolerance policies.

*Here are some basic tips to using background checks for hiring decisions;

  • Include a statement in your job application that subsequent discovery of false entries will be grounds for rescinding any job offers.
  • Get the applicant’s permission before you check their background.
  • Give the applicant a copy of the results of the background check.
  • Do not base an adverse hiring decision solely on the results of a background check if the nature of the offense is not a hindrance to performance of specific job duties of the position.

Case in point:

In 1993, a Kirby vacuum salesman was charged with rape of a customer in Texas. While the salesman worked for an independent distributor of Kirby vacuums, Kirby was held responsible for putting the customer at risk. If the distributor had run a background check on the salesman, they would have likely uncovered a previous conviction for a sexual offense. The victim was awarded $160,000.

What to look for in a Background Check

*What makes a good background check? A criminal background check should include:

  • A check against a nationwide conviction database
  • If a record comes up, it should be verified at the level of conviction
  • A check against the National Sex Offenders Database
  • A check against the Homeland Security Database
  • Authentication of the social security number given

Why you should know what is in your background check

*Following are some of the most common situations the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) hears from consumers who have been denied employment because of something in a background check.

  •  State criminal records report an arrest but not the case disposition.
  •  The subject is the victim of criminal identity theft.
  •  The person’s name appears as an alias in court records even when a mistake has been   corrected.
  •  A criminal conviction is reported even though a period of probation or deferred adjudication   was served with the understanding that a conviction would not result.
  • Convictions that were expunged or believed sealed appear on background checks.

*Following are examples from the PRC’s files included in that report:

  • False information reported. A 49-year old engineer was fired from his job because a background check report said there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. After many hours spent trying to find the source of this inaccurate information, he learned a background checking company had confused him with a much younger man with a similar name but of a different race. The background checking company refused to change its report; the court refused to change the file because the record did not belong to the engineer; and the employer refused to take him back because it sensed trouble. The best this victim could do was to obtain a letter, which he must carry with him at all times, from the state Attorney General saying there is no outstanding warrant for his arrest.
  • Delayed access to report. A young father from a mid-Western state secured a badly needed job. He was fired after a short time with only the vague explanation that there was something “wrong” with his background check. Not having seen the report, he could only guess that the “problem” may have been from a minor offense for which he was offered and completed a period of probation with the understanding that a recorded conviction would not result. When advised of his rights by PRC staff to see his report, this individual received a copy of the report from the employer and was rehired.
  • False information reported. An applicant at a major department store chain was not hired for a job because a national background screening company mixed his identifying information with that of another person. Even when the mistake was reported, the chain withdrew its job offer.
  • Identity theft victim. Karen first learned she was a victim of criminal identity theft when she couldn’t get a job or rent an apartment. She has been unable to resolve the matter and regain her good name, even after visiting several police departments in jurisdictions where her impostor was arrested.
  • Impersonation by a family member. Tina was the subject of a background check conducted for a job she applied for at a southern university. The report included nine pages detailing criminal activity. She believes her sister stole her identity and used it when arrested. She has been frustrated in her efforts to resolve the problem because she has been unable to get the cooperation of either the AG’s office or law enforcement to help her clean up the erroneous record.

With the media coverage of failures like the one mentioned above, it is harder to defend not getting a background screen on new employees.

From Privacy Rights Clearinghouse -April 14, 2010, Submitted to the Federal Trade Commission

Related Posts

Personal Background Checks

Five Reasons to Check your Background


Infographic – Espanol

Other Resources

New Employee Background Checks


1 thought on “Background Checks are Good for Business

  1. Pingback: One Bad Hire Can Cost a Company over $25,000 | Ovation - Hiring, Background Checks and Onboarding Tool for Business

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