Should I Do Background Screening Rechecks?

Background checks are very important, but arguably, rechecks are just as important.  There are too many horror stories about organizations that have completed initial hiring checks, but have neglected to do a recheck on the same employee for many years. Imagine the shock of discovering that after 15-20 years have passed, a recheck has uncovered problematic information about a long time, trusted employee. Without diligence, this could happen to anyone. Performing routine background screening re-checks, especially in certain high-risk fields, is a necessary step in providing workplace and customer security.

Because there are different types of background checks, we recommend different time frames to perform a screening re-check. SafeHiring has many schools and churches as clients, and we  recommend for them to perform rechecks at least every 1-2 years. Yearly checks would be even more ideal. Usually, volunteer background checks do not go into as much depth as an employee check, so it is important to have volunteers get rechecked more often. For school personnel, it is recommended to have a screening re-checks done every 5 years which is generally driven by state law. Recommendations for other businesses are based upon the specific nature of the businesses or the duties of the employees. If you have a question about when you should have your company or school perform background re-checks, do not hesitate to visit our online Chat feature at https://www.safehiringsolutions.com/! We can answer any specific question that you may have here. Just look at the bottom right hand side of the screen to locate a red Chat logo that reads online.

Background screening re-checks are very important for any organization for safety and peace of mind. Please visit our website above to learn more about the many great features that SafeHiring Solutions offers!

Can I Do a Background Check on Myself?

 

According to a recent study, over 20% of database criminal history records contain errors and incorrect information. Name changes, similar names, and human error account for some of these errors. How are you supposed to know if the information on your criminal record is accurate before missing an opportunity? We at Safe Hiring have an answer for that. Our new “Run My Own Criminal History” feature offers the option to run your personal full, comprehensive background check.

For just $35 you can receive the exact information that a prospective employer or rental agent is going to see should they conduct a background check on you. As the amount of employers running background checks on candidates is approaching 90%, it only makes sense to ensure that they are viewing accurate information.

To take advantage of this new feature, simply:

 

  1. Go to https://www.safehiringsolutions.com/self-screening

  2. Click on the ‘Services’ tab at the top of the page

  3. Click on “Order MyCrimHistory”

  4. Fill out your personal information and pay $35 fee

  5. Wait 3-5 days for background check to be completed

  6. View your personal background check

How Often Should I Do Employee Background Screening Re-Checks?

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Nearly all new-hires for organizations will go through a background check prior to being offered the position. This ensures that a potential employer is aware of the criminal history of the candidate; however, a background check is only up-to-date at the time it is conducted. Without periodic background checks being run, any new criminal activity could go unknown.

Employees who have been a part of a company for any extended amount of time most likely do not have updated background checks on file. In terms of the HR team, the question becomes, “How often should we re-check our employees?”

As many states are becoming more proactive in security and safety, laws are now being created that mandate a maximum amount of time that can go by before an employer must receive an updated background check. One example is Indiana’s HEA 1079 bill, which now requires every employee on a school’s payroll to receive a new background check at least every 5 years.

Unless there is a state law similar to HEA 1079, there are no stipulations for how often organizations should do re-checks. It is then left to the HR team’s discretion.

This article is meant less to encourage constantly updating background checks, and more to create awareness that background checks very quickly become ‘out-of-date’.  HR members may want to consider doing background re-checks on employees that have been employed for many years if they have not had a recent background check performed.

Learn more about ArrestAlert from SafeHiring which is real-time monitoring of more than 80% of the jails in the U.S.

 

Top Aspects to Look for in a Background Check Company

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There are various background check screening companies throughout the country. There are even some offered online as instantaneous checks. Other companies offer countless features for a seemingly insignificant price. With all of these options available to you, it has to seem like it is almost impossible to choose a perfect fit for your company or organization.

Begin the selection process by weighing all of your options and identifying the most critical features of the checks offered, and then compare them to your specific needs. It is important to remember that companies that seem too good to be true – usually are. If a company seems to offer numerous features for a comparatively low price, it probably produces a subpar check that accesses only one resource, and sometimes even that one source may not be reliable.

First thing to consider is the price. A comprehensive background check should range from $20-$40 for a national criminal background check. Another feature that is important to look at is how far back the check will search. It is important that a check go back at least 7 years.  But if there are no restrictions in your state on reporting, then you will want convictions that go back further.  You want to choose a company that will do that for you in your checks. These two features often go hand-in-hand because the farther back the check goes, the higher the price and vice versa.

Security is vital when it comes to background checks, and that is very important to consider when selecting a screening company. Some screening firms use “offshore” data and that can create security issues for how the data is transferred. You want to choose a firm that has a high focus on security and has in place procedures for keeping your information safe.

You also want to make sure that the company has a core mission of compliance. You want a company that will ensure you are compliant with the latest laws and regulations at all times.

Exceptional customer service practices will keep you informed of compliancy changes. Customer service is a priority when talking about background checks; consequently, you want to partner with a company that prioritizes great customer service. Your initial contacts with the right company should reinforce your value as a consumer of their services.

SafeHiring Solutions can be the perfect option for you if you are looking for a background screening company with great services at a reasonable price. If you would like to learn more about SafeHiring Solutions, please follow this link to the website for more information!

Devin Patrick Kelley: Failure of a Single Source Database

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I am not a gambler, have never really gambled, and I tend to be a guy who likes checks and balances in my life.  When I leave on vacation, I always have a jump starter in case the vehicle battery dies, a can of tire flat, and an extra set of keys in my wife’s purse in case I lose a set. I like backup plans.

Maybe that goes back to my years as a Violent Crime Detective.  Serving a warrant on a violent felon does not always go the way you plan.  I learned very quickly, after a fellow officer was killed trying to serve a warrant, that the felon plays a huge part in how this goes.

Regardless, I have spent my career working in law enforcement and then the past 20 years as a Violence Prevention Consultant and owner of a background screening firm and visitor management company. There is very little room for error in these careers.  Checks and balances are critical.

For the past 13 years as the CEO of Safe Hiring Solutions, I have provided testimony and guidance to lawmakers on the best practices in background screening.  What I have learned is that policymakers at the state and federal level rely heavily on the advice of law enforcement, and that their first inclination is to mandate a fingerprint background check solution.

I started Safe Hiring Solutions in 2004 because of the failure of a state background check system.  Two sex offenders were hired by a large metropolitan school district in Indiana after having been cleared in the state criminal database.

An audit of the state screening program found that many courts were not sending their conviction data to the state even though state law required them to.

What we learned is that the state was at the mercy of the courts to send the data, and if they did not send the data, then it did not exist in the database.

There were several flaws with the government background screening database:

  1. Single source. The source of the data was not sending the data to the state.  This is the inherent problem with government background screening databases.  No checks & balances.
  2. Contained only convictions for Class A Misdemeanors and above.
  3. Accurate final dispositions.
  4. Relied on state and local law enforcement to submit.

I launched Safe Hiring Solutions to provide a solution to this problem.  The first thing we focused on was the problem with single source criminal databases.  We created a background screening process that contained multiple solutions and checks and balances that included:

  • Solutions to Identify
  • National Criminal Database
  • National Sex Offender Registry
  • Federal District Courts
  • County Criminal Searches

The package we created removed the single source failures.  The case study above with the 2 sex offenders was solved.  A convicted sex offender should appear 3 times in the private background check:

  • National Criminal Database
  • National Sex Offender (if required to register)
  • County Criminal Search

Therefore, if any of the sources fail, there are backups in place.

The argument made by law enforcement is always that without a fingerprint, you cannot conduct a thorough background check.  This simply is not true.

I recently explained to a group of policymakers that I had gone through the process to obtain a gun permit and could have easily exploited the fingerprint process.  How?  Well, let’s assume I had a prohibitive felony or misdemeanor (I don’t).  I registered online and selected a date, time, and location to submit my fingerprints.  I could have easily handed my ID to my brother, who looks much like me, and sent him in to submit a set of fingerprints.

How do I know that would have worked?  Because it was the government issued ID that was my source of ID - not the fingerprints.  The person collecting the fingerprints glanced at my ID for 2 seconds.  She had someone coming in every 15 minutes.  A quick glance at the BMV photo and my brother would have raised no red flags.

The fingerprint process does not pop up and say, “This is Mike McCarty!”  No, the system looks for my fingerprints in a database that are attached to a criminal record.  If there are no fingerprint matches with a criminal record, then the report is clear.

The shooting this past Sunday in Texas has brought into question the NCIC and government system of background checks.  What we now know about Devin Patrick Kelley:

  • He was convicted in the military of a prohibitive crime e.g. domestic violence.
  • The Air Force did not send the conviction to the FBI.

With a single source database, Devin Kelley was allowed to purchase an AR-556 in San Antonio.  Why?

  1. The conviction in the military was not sent to FBI; AND
  2. The unstable Devin Kelley did NOT self-disclose and check a box acknowledging that he had a prohibitive conviction. How many criminals would have the integrity to admit to their criminal history?  Self-disclosure systems are ludicrous.

Over the week, I have heard so many in Congress put forth ideas to quickly solve the issue:

  • Call a voice vote to mandate all data providers send their information to the FBI. Was this not a requirement before?
  • Universal background checks. How do universal background checks solve the problem of Kelley being able to buy a handgun?  NCIC was already clear.  That is the problem, you could check NCIC a hundred times and if the data is not there, it is not there.

I took a call while writing this article from a friend who works in federal law enforcement, and we were discussing the incident.  That’s what law enforcement officers do.  Look at the evidence and determine what we can learn to prevent or minimize the occurrence of another incident like this.

Then he asked me the magic question. “Could your background checks have flagged this?”  In all honesty I explained that there is much we don’t know, and I have not run Devin Kelley’s name through our screening process.

I also told him that we don’t do background checks for gun permits because that requires NCIC; however, a comprehensive private background check using a myriad of available solutions might have flagged him:

  • Something caused TX to refuse the gun permit - something other than NCIC.
  • County criminal searches may have revealed arrests.
  • An ITRV (Income Tax & Employer Verification) would have revealed his military history and prompted a search of his military records. This was the most likely way of flagging Kelley without an honest self-disclosure.
  • A Civil search may have found a protective order if one had been issued which is very common in domestic violence cases.
  • DCS Index Checks. These can be conducted in TX, not in NM, but a check could have revealed issues with child abuse that could have lead to a criminal case.

Understand that all of this is hypothetical and intended to simply show a small snapshot of how private screening firms might approach a background check like this.  It is the layers of checks and balances that provide the comprehensive nature of a thorough search.

At the end of the day, we do not need more gun laws.  We have laws prohibiting Kelley from purchasing guns.

We do not need laws requiring reporting to NCIC (I am sure they exist), but we need a larger debate on whether private screening firms can play an active role in the background screening process.  We need to have healthy engagement in Congress and in the states where private firms are being excluded even though they can provide comprehensive screening solutions that are often times faster and much more cost effective.

Join us for a webinar on best practices in background screening & making your voice heard to policymakers.  Register.  Limited to 100 each session.

7 Reasons a Criminal Passes an Employee Lyft or Uber Background Check

Uber and Lyft, two of the largest ride-sharing platforms, have been catching a lot of heat over their background screening programs.  In light of the latest terrorist attack by a NY Uber driver, as well as the case of the Lyft driver who was convicted of federal terrorism 5 months before he started driving for Lyft, I feel it’s the perfect time to examine how two such employees were able to pass background checks. First, let’s not point the finger at Uber and Lyft.  Let’s start with the background screening industry.

The background screening industry is NOT the most transparent industry.  For over 13 years I have owned a background screening firm and for that entire time, I have been saying that our industry has evolved into a competitive environment in which screening firms will cut corners, remove solutions from packages, and limit reports when not required by law in order to stay competitive in pricing or turnaround times.

I spend an inordinate amount of time working with lawmakers on best practice policies and defending this challenging industry. My recommendations are always to define in the code what the background check requires. Doing so will remove the option for screening firms to cut corners.

I am NOT saying that the background screening firms for Lyft and Uber cut any corners.  I have no way of knowing this without running the background checks myself, but I will say that it is extremely hard for organizations to understand exactly what their background screening provider includes in an employee background check.

There are 7 reasons a criminal could pass an employee background check:

  1. Convicted in County Outside of Where They Live. Background screening firms generally rely on SSN Trace to provide an address and then they search counties associated with this address for a 7 or 10 year period.
    1. No Federal Criminal Courts Search. Background check firms do not always add the Federal Criminal Search to their packages.  It appears that the Lyft driver who was convicted of federal terrorism was convicted in federal courts.

     

    1. Only Search Federal District Court. Only searching the federal district courts where the applicant has lived for 7 or 10 years does not provide a thorough report.

     

    1. Not Searching Alias Names. It is still not a common practice to include an alias or other names on the background check,  but doing so is a best practice that should ALWAYS be included.

     

    1. Limit the Scope of Background Check. Many screening firms adopt a 7 year restricted search nationwide.  We suggest that the information only be restricted to what federal or state laws require.  Example, a conviction in Indiana should not be limited to 7 years because the state allows reporting of all convictions as does the federal FCRA.

     

    1. Not Conducting Employee Rechecks. Background screening is not a one and done process.  Employee background checks should be conducted on an ongoing basis.

     

    1. The Criminal Conviction Not Reportable. Yes, it is true many states have adopted restrictions on what convictions can be reported.

This wave of ride-share drivers with serious criminal backgrounds will likely result in a knee jerk reaction from policymakers who do not understand everything and therefore assume that a government background check like the FBI conducts would have caught this.  Not true.

The terrorist in NY appears to have had some citations in his background.  This would be easily found in an MVR check; however, if they were non-moving violations, they would not necessarily be exclude him from driving.  Also, traffic citations are not likely to show up in an FBI background check.  It would still take a private company search of MVR records to obtain this important information.

I would suggest that ride-share companies like Uber or Lyft review their background screening programs and determine where the ball was dropped.  If it was as a result of the screening firm not using best practices, then correct that by finding a new partner.  If it is because government has restricted what information can be reported, then make that public in order to open up lines of communication with lawmakers with the intent to remove these restrictive loopholes that may be allowing terrorists to slip through the cracks.

An obvious solution is to ensure that you are using the best screening solutions available.  Our leadership team and advisory board of law enforcement, secret service, Navy Seals, and cyber intelligence experts are continually adopting the most cutting-edge technologies.

Three solutions that we have that could greatly reduce your risk:

  1. ArrestAlert.  We have direct integration with 80% of the jails in the U.S. and can access arrest data that can be used for:
    • Pre-Employment. Find arrests outside the scope of where a candidate has lived or worked.  Most jail data goes back a minimum of 10 years.
    • Real-Time Monitoring. We can add your employees to real-time arrest monitoring, so you are immediately notified of any arrests.
  2. The software will automate the process of managing re-checks as well as real-time ArrestAlert monitoring.
  3. Real-Time MVR monitoring. Not every state provides real-time MVR monitoring, but where available, this will alert you to any traffic citations.

If you would like more information, please email or call us:  sales@safehiringsolutions.com or 866-434-0002

Should You Be Conducting School Background Checks on Board Members?

As a former Violent Crime Detective, I was called upon to provide equal protection under the law.  What does that mean? Equal protection is a 14th Amendment protection that simply means that everybody receives equal protection under the law- no matter who they are.  This means nobody is above or below the law.

When I worked with victims of violent crime, sometimes the victims themselves were not always upstanding citizens.  Some of them were prostitutes, drug abusers, or alcoholics. Some of them had lengthy criminal records.  Guess what?  They deserved the same equal protection, under the law, as any law abiding victim.

As a detective, I was also tasked with investigating police officers who abused their spouse or partners.  This abuse could range anywhere from pushing and shoving to murder/suicide.  Investigations were even more complicated because during the early 1990’s, there was still a strong adherence to the “blue wall”. Police departments often operated under the belief that “cops take care of their own”.

Believe me, police officers survive by taking care of each other.  I have been on calls where a simple disagreement turned into a gun battle. Shots were fired with people being seriously hurt.  One of my friends, a fellow officer, was killed as we served a warrant.

But for me, a child, grandchild, cousin, brother, and husband of a police officer (active and retired), once a police office abused a spouse, partner, or child, a line was crossed placing them clearly on the other side of the law.  I always did my job with pride ensuring that violators were successfully prosecuted.

This is an example of equal protection under the law   Nobody, even officers themselves, are above the law.

So when I was recently asked about whether a school corporation should conduct school background checks on board members, my response was simple-  absolutely!

Why should an administrator or school board member be exempted from the school employment background check policy?  That sounds suspiciously like being above the law and a clear example of unequal protection.

“Unequal protection” in law enforcement is when groups of people are unfairly exempted from a policy.  For example, many states have mandatory arrest laws for domestic violence.  Yet, if a police officer does not make an arrest when it is another police officer, that is unequal protection. Unequal protection exposes the department to possible liability as well as the victim to increased danger. Obviously, the danger of continuing abuse increases when there is a lack of consequences and accountability.

When a school board member is excluded from the background check policy, it creates a flawed policy, reflects poorly with the rank and file, and increases the possibility of future embarrassment, even criminality.  It sends the message that those who approve policy are above it.

We have all witnessed elected officials who have fallen from grace.  A former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, was released from prison less than two months ago after being convicted of sexually abusing kids  while a wrestling coach and teacher before he was elected to office.

In the past few weeks, I have witnessed school board members in different parts of the country that have caused embarrassment for their school districts after being arrested.  In the Southwest, a new school board member resigned soon after taking his seat because of financial problems, bankruptcies,  etc.

In the Midwest, a large metropolitan school district was hit by partners in crime.  Two school board members, a husband and wife, were recently arrested after stealing a shopping cart full of merchandise.  It was later revealed that this was not the first criminal record for theft for one of the duo.

Thankfully, these last two examples of lack of oversight primarily resulted in embarrassment to the respective school corporations; however, what if the board members had been violent criminals or even sophisticated white collar criminals? The consequences of allowing unequal protection could have been much greater.

The bottom line is that whether elected or appointed, school board members have huge responsibilities and oversight and need to be held to the same background screening standard as all other school employees.

For more information on implementing a school board screening program, please contact us.  We provide this services for hundreds of school districts.