Archive for the ‘BACKGROUND NEWS’ Category

Shoddy Background Check Could Cost You A Job

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Apply for a job and there’s a good chance that potential employer will do a background check on you. Most U.S. employers (about 70 percent) conduct criminal background checks for all potential employees.

 According to a new report from the National Consumer Law Center, the information provided by background screening companies is often wrong in some way.

“These reports really should be accurate. Unfortunately, too often, what we found is, they’re not,” says Persis Yu, an NCLC staff attorney who worked on the “Broken Records”report.

Take the case of Samuel M. Jackson of Illinois, profiled in the report. Jackson was allegedly denied a job because of an inaccurate background check that said he was convicted of rape in 1987 – when he was just 4 years old. The conviction belonged to 58-year-old Samuel L. Jackson of Virginia, who was in prison at the time the background check was requested.

Virtually anyone with a computer and Internet service can go into the business of background screening. There is very little, if any, oversight.

“It’s really the Wild West out there,” Persis says. “They’re not required to be licensed. They’re not required to be registered. And yet they’re generating billions of dollars in revenue with very little accountability.”

The head of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) says the NCLC report makes some very broad statements that are not accurate. In an email statement to msnbc.com, Theresa Preg says background screening through Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA), such as those that are members of NAPBS have “a very, very low error rate.”

Preg says members of her organization are highly regulated at the state and federal level. She warns employers not to use “free” criminal record searches offered via the Internet because they have no updating requirement and therefore can have inaccurate information.

“The member companies of NAPBS help put millions of people to work, including ex-offenders,” she writes. “We also help consumers correct misinformation that may be contained on them at the actual courts or law enforcement agencies, as well as any incorrect criminal history information that may have been contained in a consumer report.

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NRF: Most Retailers Rely on Background Checks

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Nearly all retailers use background checks to vet potential employees, according to the results of a National Retail Federation survey.

“As retailers across the country begin to hire hundreds of thousands of holiday employees, the National Retail Federation today released a survey that illustrates the importance of employee background screenings in keeping customers safe,” read an accompanying press release published on Tuesday. Responses from the survey, which was conducted in July, came from 96 executives from various retailers and showed that 97 percent of respondents used background screening sometime during the application process. “Pre-employment screenings are one of the tools retailers use as a first line of defense, especially during the holiday season when companies may have hundreds–if not thousands–of applications to sift through,” NRF senior asset protection advisor Joe LaRocca said. Most of the background checks (60 percent) examine records available from the last five to seven years. These records often include credit history, criminal records, motor vehicle records, and education records. The survey was released in part to show the importance of background checks to employers and to raise awareness of new guidelines being considered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that would prevent businesses from asking potential employees about their criminal history during the application process.

Supporters of eliminating initial questions about criminal history, also called “banning the box,” because of the box on application forms that ask if a person has ever been convicted of a crime, say removing the question would allow a person a fair chance at proving that they are the best person for the job. LaRocca says the question is a necessary part of keeping customers safe. “A criminal history is not a scarlet letter for retail employment–in fact, retailers are able to overlook certain convictions based on position–but businesses need to understand who they are hiring right off the bat,” he said. “A convicted burglar shouldn’t be delivering pizzas to people’s homes and a person with multiple DUI convictions is not who you would want driving thousands of miles in a company vehicle. Understanding a potential employee’s prior work experience, education, customer service skills and criminal history helps retailers make intelligent hiring decisions for the ambassadors of their company brand and the safety of their customers.” The survey didn’t include data for how many of the companies had rejected potential employees because of information found during a background check.

Cleveland on Monday became the most recent city on a growing list of areas that have chosen to “ban the box.”

“By removing this question, applicants can be sure they will not be automatically excluded from consideration for a job because of their past mistakes,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a press release.

The Long Term Benefits of Pre-Employment Screening

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Pre-emplyment screening should be a mandatory step in any company’s hiring practices. Job applicants can sometimes lie or exaggerate the truth on their resumes, which can result in an employer taking on a highly qualified individual whose degree is actually fake.

According to Smart Business Online, the National Credit Verification Service estimates that 25 percent of MBA degrees featured on resumes are fake. What’s more, 60 percent of the degrees the service verifies are also false. Thirty-four percent of job applications contain lies relating to experience, level of education and the ability to perform job functions, as estimated by The Wall Street Journal.

Using proper pre-employment screening tactics can help an employer avoid the liability of a poor choice. Smart Business Online noted 30 percent of small businesses fail due to employee theft, as internal employee theft happens 15 times more frequently than external theft. Every year, $4 billion in embezzlement losses are reported and myriad other crimes a company may experience can cost up to $50 billion per year.

“One of the easiest and most effective ways a company can protect itself and its assets against loss of any type is to hire the right people,” Ron Williams, CEO of risk management firm Talon Companies, wrote for the source. “Although obvious, this advice is seldom heeded by employers, who rely on intuition in making hiring decisions more often than established facts learned through background checks.

Williams suggests that companies check the information on candidate’s application, at minimum, specifically taking note of short-term employment patterns. It can be in a firm’s best interest, however, to verify information through a background screening agency – one that’s both reliable and reputable. Agencies will use a candidate’s Social Security number, criminal and civil background records as well as other pertinent information to compile a multifaceted look at a candidate.

“Because employers are held accountable if they knew, should have known or had any reason to believe that an employee or prospective employee posed a risk of threat to others, it is essential that thorough background checks be conducted and documented,” Williams wrote for the source. “Proper screening of employees makes it possible for an employer to make an informed decision about applicants before they are hired and brought into the workplace. Such basic practices give an employer the ability to create a safe and profitable work environment and protect against loss.”

Avoiding Fraudulent People-Searching Sites

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Companies seeking to screen the backgrounds of their potential and current employees should be wary of illegitimate people-searching sites, ZDNet reports.

By searching an individual’s name on a people-finding website, you can acquire the name, address and birth date of an individual and his or her family members. However, many of these sites are not trustworthy and may even provide false information.

In order to keep their pay-per-click ratios high, these sites use any means possible to attract viewers. For instance, fraudulent people-finding sites can instantly create profiles of the names you search, even if the name doesn’t exist.

Individuals that attempt to withdraw their information from these websites may find themselves in a bind. Some websites may promise that an individual’s information will be removed, as long as they provide their name, email and address. Hence, their information may be deleted from one fraudulent website, then transferred to an affiliate’s.

While these websites can obtain an individual’s information in a number of ways, the questionable accuracy of the data underscores the importance of reputable background screening services.

Credit Reports Receive Continued Scrutiny

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently heard testimony regarding proposed restrictions of the use of a consumer’s credit information when employers are making a hiring decision. 

The testimony was part of proposed Federal legislation to limit the use of consumer credit reports when making a hiring decision.  Several states have already implemented rules limiting or restricting the use of consumer credit reports.

One key statement given by Pamela Devata of Seyfarth Shaw pointed out that, contrary to common belief, a person’s credit score is not included on the credit report used for employment purposes.  She states, before “an employer is able to make a decision based on a credit report, the employer must review the content of the full report to obtain credit information and assess whether it is positive, negative, or neutral.”

Employers should be mindful of their reasons for using an applicant’s credit history.  Devata also noted credit reports “…provide a variety of information that cannot otherwise be confirmed by an employer. They are viewed as a valid indicator of a person’s judgment and potential risk to the company.”

What information does a Social Security Trace pull and what does it mean when an Invalid result or discrepancy is reported?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Information on a Social Security Trace is reported from credit headers, which means that any name, date of birth, or address used for credit purposes associated with the given social number will show on the trace. When a discrepancy is found (i.e. the name or DOB given does not match the given), it is best to check that the SSN was entered correctly. If the SSN is entered correctly, than most likely the applicant has not established credit history or a representative at a credit agency mistyped the name and/or date of birth for the applicant or typed the wrong social number for another person who applied for credit. In the instance of an invalid result, the SSN provided is either incorrect, or the applicant is a new U.S. citizen whose information has not been updated by the Social Security Administration. When discrepancies and invalid results on the social trace are found, it is best to review the individual’s social security card and make sure that the information provided is correct.

FMCSA Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP)

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

In May of 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched its Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), which allows commercial motor carrier companies to electronically access driver inspection and crash records as a part of the hiring process.
The Pre-Employment Screening Program offers access to up to five years of driver crash data and three years of inspection data regardless of the state or jurisdiction. By using driver safety information during pre-employment screening, commercial carriers will be able to better assess the potential safety risks of prospective driver-employees. PSP also gives drivers additional opportunities to verify the data in their driving history and correct any discrepancies. A driver’s records will be protected in accordance with federal privacy laws.
The Pre-Employment Screening Program is populated monthly by FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). The MCMIS is comprised of driver performance data including inspection and compliance review results, enforcement data, state-reported crashes, and motor carrier census data.
PSP is designed to assist the motor carrier industry in assessing individual operators

Oregon Joins Washington and Hawaii in Restricting the Use of Credit Information in the Employment Decision

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

On March 29, 2010, Oregon Governor Kulongoski signed legislation (S.B. 1045) that specifically prohibits employers from using credit history in making hiring, discharge, promotion, and compensation decisions unless the applicant or employee is given advanced written notice and the credit history is substantially related to the position sought. The legislation provides additional exceptions for financial institutions and public safety offices. Although the proposed legislation was to be effective July 1, 2010, the Governor declared the legislation effective immediately.

Oregon now joins Washington and Hawaii in requiring relatedness between the credit history and the position sought before an employer can use such information in making employment decisions. There is also pending legislation in Illinois that recently passed the House of Representatives, which would impose similar restrictions.

At the federal level, H.R. 3149 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2009, to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Known as the “Equal Employment for All Act,” it seeks to prohibit the use of consumer credit checks against prospective and current employees for the purposes of making adverse employment decisions. This bill is currently in committee; however passage of laws in Oregon and other states may drive further interest in this bill at the federal level. In addition, independent of this federal legislation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently taken particular interest in the use of credit checks in employment decisions.

FMCSA Launches Pre-Employment Screening Program

Monday, May 17th, 2010

On May 11, 2010, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched its Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), which allows commercial motor carrier companies to electronically access driver inspection and crash records as a part of the hiring process.

“Safety is our highest priority. The Pre-Employment Screening Program sends a strong message to commercial carriers and drivers that we are serious about having the safest drivers behind the wheel of large trucks and buses,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“Starting today, commercial carriers will have an essential tool for making informed hiring decisions that will lead to safer drivers on our roads,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “The Pre-Employment Screening Program raises the safety bar for the motor carrier industry and helps to make our roads safer for everyone.”

The Pre-Employment Screening Program offers access to up to five years of driver crash data and three years of inspection data regardless of the state or jurisdiction. By using driver safety information during pre-employment screening, commercial carriers will be able to better assess the potential safety risks of prospective driver-employees. PSP also gives drivers additional opportunities to verify the data in their driving history and correct any discrepancies. A driver’s records will be protected in accordance with federal privacy laws.

The Pre-Employment Screening Program is populated monthly by FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). The MCMIS is comprised of driver performance data including inspection and compliance review results, enforcement data, state-reported crashes, and motor carrier census data.

For complete details go to http://www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Preemployment Background Screening Guideline Released

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

ASIS Standards and Guidelines Preemployment Background Screening Guideline will aid employers in understanding and implementing the fundamental concepts, methodologies, and related legal issues associated with the background screening of job applicants. It presents practical information concerning the value of preemployment background screening, the importance of the application form, important legal issues and considerations such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, privacy issues, state laws, rules and regulations, the types of information to utilize in verifying the key elements, and the use of credit reporting agencies. Get details.