Warning! Employee Background Checks Can Get You In Big Trouble

employee background checksWe all know that not conducting employee background checks can get us in big trouble.  Sadly, there are still lots of organizations that are not conducing quality background checks and are exposing themselves to risk of harm as well as legal trouble such as negligent hiring and negligent retention.

However, that is not our focus today.

Did you know that conducing employee background checks can get you in big trouble?  Say what?

Background screening exploded in our post 9-11 world as organizations became consumed with safety and security.  We developed a heightened sense of awareness. 

Unfortunately, the background screening industry did not mature and develop into an industry focused on safety and security.  The proliferation of cheap criminal record checks still permeates the industry leaving organizations at risk.

Selecting the right background screening partner is one of the most important decisions an organization can make and should not be based on:

Price.  Quality background screening is not a commodity.  If you are looking for cheap, you will find it.  Comprehensive criminal record checks often cost just a few dollars more so it does not make sense to risk harm to your organization or expose yourself to legal risk to save a few dollars.

      Speed.  Turnaround time is important..  However, if you receive completed reports instantly or in a few hours then you are sacrificing quality for speed.  There is no such thing as an instant background check.

The right screening partner will provide a balance of speed and price without sacrificing quality. 

It has NEVER been more important for organizations to understand how to conduct legally compliant criminal background checks.  These 5 areas pose significant risk for organizations:

·         Negligent Hiring/Retention.  Low quality background checks inherently have high failure rates even for serious felony records.

·         Ban the Box.  Huge movement across the U.S. to disallow criminal history questions on an application.  This is spreading quickly in municipalities and state legislatures.  The foundation for this theory is that ex-offenders are being disenfranchised.  That if they were able to obtain an interview and explain their criminal history that they would be more employable.

·         EEOC.  The EEOC 2012-16 strategic plan focuses specifically on employers use of criminal background checks.  The belief is that the proliferation in background screening is having a disparate impact on certain minorities.  Organizations need to follow a 3 pronged approach:

o   What is the nature & gravity of the crime?

o   How long ago was the crime committed?

o   How does the crime impact the position held or sought?

·         Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Yes, the FCRA applies even if you are NOT conducting credit reports.  The FCRA has very specific requirements and recent lawsuits for non-compliance have been in the millions of dollars.  Simply put, the FCRA requires:

o   Candidates provided a Disclosure Statement AND provide an Authorization (written or electronic)

If taking adverse action based “in whole or part” on the screening report:

o   Pre-Adverse Action Letter, copy of the report and a Summary of Rights Under the FCRA.

o   Adverse Action Letter sent after 5 business days if candidate does not dispute the accuracy of the information.

·         Social Media Background Checks.   How many of you will admit to searching candidates through social media, Google, etc?  The concept is extremely appealing but can be fraught with problems.  Social media background checks can expose an organization to risk of:

o   Discrimination-Seeing protected information like age, race, marital status, etc.

o   Privacy-Yes, even the internet can have a reasonable expectation of privacy since most social media sites require some form of friending.

o   Authenticity-How do you know it is your candidate?  Common name spellings?  How do you know that your candidate is not operating online under an assumed name?

If you are not conducting high quality background checks then you are at risk of missing information, negligent hiring, negligent retention as well as compliance issues related to the FCRA, EEOC, social media and band the box. 

Is saving a few bucks worth all of these headaches?

This is topic is extremely critical to your organization and we simply cannot provide enough time or discussion to adequately cover this in an article.    So join us for a webinar:

·         Tuesday, May 14, 2013- Register

·         Tuesday, May 21, 2013- Register

5 Reasons Automated Quality Background Checks are the Bomb

quality background checksNow understand we are talking about automated quality background checks not instant.  Don’t confuse the two.  There is no such thing as an instant background check (I know, an internet search says otherwise but the screening companies are not being honest). A few years ago we created an Applicant Tracking System that allows you to conduct quality background checks without data entry.  We created this technology to assist our large volunteer organizations who process thousands of criminal record checks.

Hundreds of organizations have adopted this “paperless” process because it:

  1. Speeds the Turnaround Time.  Candidates can order a background check 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  2. Saves Money by Reducing Labor.  Candidates click on a link on your website, sign an e-authorization, input their information and initiate the background check.
  3. Increases Security.  The ATS replaces paper authorizations and encrypts and stores the information on secured servers.
  4. Reduces Data Entry Errors.  No more data entry errors because you cannot read information on a paper authorization which speeds the turnaround time.
  5. Allows Candidates to Pay for Their Own Background Check with a Credit or Debit Card.  Yes, this is a new concept for some organizations.  However, having the candidate pay for their criminal record check is growing in popularity.

The ATS is a great tool but it does not eliminate the application process and due diligence that you use to identify your candidates.  Candidates that attempt to provide a false social security number, change the spelling of their name or do not disclose other names or addresses will be flagged.   We recommend that employers require a government issued photo ID as part of the application process and compare this against their background screening report.

Are you ready to take your background screening program to the next level?  Contact us today.

#1 Hidden Danger of Quality Volunteer Background Checks

volunteer background checksHow many of you have kids?  Do you ever find yourself telling them the same thing over and over again?  Come on, I cannot be the only one. “Clean your room.”

“Pick up your dirty socks off of the living room floor.”

“Put the lid up when you….”   Okay you get it.  I have 3 boys.

It wears me out.  I keep thinking one day it will click.  No more broken record saying the same thing over and over again (how many of you even know what a record is?).

I also face the same frustration at work every day.  It is the same conversation over and over again with hundreds of volunteer organizations.  Yes, you need to be doing background checks on your volunteers.  No, you cannot select the cheapest service you find on the internet.  No, there is no such thing as an instant background check.  No, you cannot screen volunteers for $10.

Have you followed the Penn State tragedy?

I honestly think that the #1 hidden danger with volunteer background checks is apathy.  A genuine lack of interest or indifference.

Every day I speak to potential clients, present at conferences or online webinars or publish articles on quality background screening.  My efforts pale in comparison to the money the background screening industry spends to convince you that volunteer background checks can be done instantly for a few dollars.

By the end of most days, my voice is hoarse and my fingers are tired.  Have you ever tried to motivate a lack of interest?  Think of kids and homework.

However, this apathy to background screening has come home to roost.  I have 5 active kids that play sports- baseball, basketball, football, karate.

Our community has passed a policy requiring all coaches to have a criminal background check.  Unfortunately there was no definition or requirement for how a background check is done.  Which has lead to a search for the cheapest provider.

The problem is the community does have a policy that clearly defines what criminal offenses are excluders.  For the policy and the screening process to work in harmony, to provide protection to children and the community, then selecting the right screening partner is paramount.

What point is a strong policy if it is implemented with a weak screening program?  Yes, there is still a lot of indifference.  I listen to the comments.  “We know everybody.”  “We are a small community.”  “We can’t afford it.”

Do we really know everybody?  No way.  That is a false sense of security.  I have looked around at some of the volunteer coaches and I know they have criminal histories that include domestic violence, driving under the influence and drug possession.

I have spent almost 20 years criss-crossing the U.S. and Atlantic Ocean working with communities to end violence against women and children so I can tell you that I would NEVER allow my children to be coached by someone who believes they are justified in using violence, coercion and intimidation against their spouse our children.

What is scary is I recognize these coaches with criminal records and they are in a small pool of coaches I know.  There is a much larger pool of coaches I don’t know.  Are we comfortable with a hit-and-miss style of screening?

And save your breath, I don’t buy the “we-can’t-afford-it” story.  That is pure baloney.

I would have so much more respect for someone who honestly said, “screening is not a priority.”  Frightening, yes.  But honest.

Truthfully, I have never seen an organization that did not find money for their priorities.  The same groups that say they do not have the money will gladly raise their participant fees $10 to cover the costs of new uniforms, warm-ups, bags, matching shoes or the cost of traveling.  But they would never raise the participant fee $3 to ensure the safety and security of the children.

Now, I have served on many boards- sports, church, homeless teen ministry, domestic violence- and have witnessed control issues seeping into the boardroom.   I would hate to think that control- “you are not going to tell me what to do”- would generate the resistance to background screening.

We should recognize that our coaches are also role models.  And even volunteer coaches should be held to a higher standard.  They are influencing a young life.

I understand a DUI or public intoxication record may not be a game stopper unless the coach could be driving players to games or practice.  But quality volunteer background checks will provide the information to make sound policy decisions.

Implementing quality volunteer background checks is not an easy task.  As we work through a process of overcoming resistance- control, ignorance, financial- we have to make sure we don’t acquiesce to the resistance and implement a low quality background screening program.

Don’t fall prey to cheap volunteer background checks.  The screening industry recognizes that ignorance +tight budgets = high profit.  They will hook you on a $10 volunteer background check that has a high failure rate with violent offenders, drugs, online predators and the list goes on and on.

Are you willing to take that risk?  If not, contact us today and we can guide you through a process of implementing a quality volunteer background screening program.

What is the Most Important Quality of a Background Screening Firm?

background screening firmThere is nothing like an early morning run on the beach to clear my head and think.  You guessed it.  I am still on vacation.  Kids are sleeping….well, our kids are.  The 3 little guys next to us are moving around the pool like Indy cars and the look on mom’s face says vacation is not that relaxing.  Been there? Anyway, for the past couple months I have spent a lot of time thinking, writing and speaking about the background screening industry.   Yes, I have been a critic of the low quality background checks that dominate the industry since the day I launched Safe Hiring Solutions.  And will continue to be for the foreseeable future as cheap, risky screening solutions are still being peddled as “national background checks.”

National background check does NOT automatically mean comprehensive.  Actually it rarely does.

The only way to know for sure is to educate yourself on background screening so you can ask the right questions of a background screening firm.  We prefer to put all the marbles on the table so you can see what we do and how we do it.

Transparency is critical but it is not the #1 most important quality of a background screening firm.  It hit me this morning while running that the most important quality is integrityIntegrity is defined as doing the right thing even when nobody is watching.

It is easy to do the right thing when people are watching, right?

I have spent the past 20 years working to end violence against women and children.  One consistency over the years is that perpetrators of domestic violence often do the right thing in public and brutalize their partners at home.  Do you know how many neighbors of perpetrators that I have interviewed over the years that described the domestic terrorist as a “great guy”?  The majority.

Now, this is going to be a bold statement but it is necessary.  The public face of a background screening firm always looks nice.  The peddler of cheap background checks relies upon crafty marketing and an uneducated market.

What you are looking for is a screening firm that has integrity.  That does the right thing when nobody is looking.

A background screening partner with integrity will be honest about pricing, limitations of criminal databases, disclose how far back their searches go and how they handle alias or other names.  Integrity in background screening means we are more concerned with the safety and security of your organization than profit.

Are you ready to work with a background screening firm that has integrity?

Download the 10 Things to Know Before Hiring a Background Screening Firm so you choose a firm with integrity.