use and misuse

Background Checks for Churches:The Use & Misuse of Criminal Databases

Let me say that I have a huge heart for churches and ministries who are trying to navigate the highly unregulated background screening industry.  I speak with or correspond by email with a handful of church administrators each day who are trying to implement quality background checks for churches. The lack of transparency from the background screening industry is frustrating for me and I know it is frustrating for you. Protecting children and looking after widows and orphans is a Biblical command. Yet it is difficult to implement because the screening industry is focused on cheap, instant products that yield tremendous profit but provide very little risk mitigation.

I think you will find this 5 minute training video valuable.  Enjoy!

If you are committed to the safety and security of your children, the church and protecting your ministry then Contact us today.    We have partnered with thousands of churches and ministries and assisted them in developing a quality background checks for churches program.

The Use & Misuse of Employment Credit Reports

employment credit reportEffective October 1, 2011 Connecticut joins Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon as states that have banned the blanket use of employment credit reports as a tool in the hiring process.  I think this will be a growing trend with other states. We really should not be surprised that states are beginning to ban or significantly restrict the use of employment credit reports.  There has been a lot of misuse of credit information in the hiring process.  The background screening industry has not done enough to educate our clients about the proper use of credit information.  

The use of credit information, just like criminal records checks, should be based on a business necessity.  Every single time I have an employer indicate they want to use employment credit reports, I ask the following questions (yes, I often convince the employer to spend less money with us but it protects them and their applicants):

  • Do we have a business necessity?  Probably if you are hiring a CFO;  probably not if you are hiring a custodian.  Credit reports should not be used as a blanket screening tool.
  • What is it in a credit file that would cause you to decline employment?  Many Americans, like our government, have a poor credit rating and high revolving debt so is that alone an indication they will be a bad hire?  Not necessarily.
  • Do you understand that credit reports contain lots of errors?  The three credit bureaus can have distinctly different information on an applicant. Per the FACT Act, I check my credit reports once a year.  Thank goodness because a few years ago I found a collections that belonged to another person with the same name.  

My goal is not to dissuade our clients or potential clients from using employment credit reports.  However, I do want them to understand they must be responsible in using credit information.

Once you have made the decision to access financial information for certain positions, you need to understand the key differences between a full credit report and an employment credit report.  A full credit report should NEVER be used as a tool in the hiring process.  Federal law allows for a modified version of a credit report to be used for employment purposes.

Here are the main differences.  Employment credit reports:

  • Do not contain a credit score which is a credit lending model not an employment scoring model.
  • Remove account numbers
  • Remove year of birth
  • Remove references to your spouse

The bottom line is the use of employment credit reports can be an extremely important and a critical tool in the hiring process.  It does require a well articulated policy.

Contact us today for an evaluation of your use of employment credit reports.

Volunteer Screening: The Use & Misuse of Criminal Databases

volunteer screeningThe background screening industry has been negligent in marketing criminal databases as a stand-alone volunteer screening program.  There I said it. I was leaning toward unethical but we are talking about the safety and security of children.  Placing profit above safety and security of children is negligence.

Let me say there is no such thing as an instant criminal background check.  And there is no such thing as a quality $9 or $10 background check.  I don’t care what the background screening firm told you.

So what are the problems with criminal databases:

  • They Are Not Complete.  There does not exist a single criminal database, including the FBI’s NCIC, that is complete.
  • Few Counties Supply Data.  The majority of states provide only Department of Corrections and Sex Offender Records.  Some states might provide a few counties.  Only a handful of states provide Administrative Office of the Courts data which would be all the counties.
  • State Repositories Are Not Complete.  Statewide criminal databases vary widely from state to state and should be considered a tool in a screening program.
  • They Are Not FCRA Compliant.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the use of up-to-date information and criminal databases are not considered up-to-date because the information is generally only updated once a month or less.
  • Rarely Contain Final Dispositions.  The use of criminal records demands final dispositions to be legally compliant with EEOC, FCRA and many state laws.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Criminal databases play a critical role in the background screening program if they are part of a screening package that includes county criminal searches.

Criminal databases and county criminal searches are like a marriage.  They work well together and lift each other up.  Standing alone they are not as strong as they are when bonded together.

Does your volunteer screening program rely on an instant database search?  If so, it is time your screening program matured and got married to Mr. County Criminal.

Contact us today and we can take your screening program to the next level.