An employment background screening firm is not required to implement or follow any one set of best practices, but a firm should always be able to provide an outline of their own best practices. Contrary to popular impressions, there is no one nationwide criminal database that is comprehensive and accurate. The $10 background checks so prevalent in the industry are usually only a cursory check into one national database that is neither thorough nor accurate. A professional background screening firm should be able to provide:
- Searches reaching back further than 7 years, especially if suspicious information is found
- Searches on multiple names and aliases
- Searches at the national, federal, and local levels based on address and employment history
- Knowledge of process in all fifty U.S. states and relevant jurisdictions
- Personal as well as criminal history
- Felony and misdemeanor reporting
Firms Should Partner with an Organization
Background screening firms with low quality standards are also likely to leave an organization foundering when support is needed. A professional screening firm should guide an organization through the process, explain their practices, and help organizations understand the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Screening firms should also provide guidance on what to do if adverse action or a second investigation appears necessary. Most importantly, they should be able to understand an organization’s needs and situation, as every organization is unique.
Claims that a screening can be completed in twenty-four hours or at fantastically low prices may be a sign that a firm is providing inaccurate or incomplete data, setting an organization up for risk if a potential employee does have a criminal record not captured by a cursory screening. Organizations must choose their background screening firms based on their commitment to accuracy and thoroughness to mitigate their risk in the hiring process.