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Eek! I Missed WHAT?! Top 10 Background Screening Mistakes Pt 3

This week, we will finish up our list of top 10 background screening mistakes.
Here are the final 3:

Backup-Best-Practices#3: Utilizing a background screening company that is not accredited
Information is only as accurate as the source. Background screening partners should not be chosen simply by the lowest price. Employing a background screening company that has dubious information sources or sloppy best practices can result in a report that does not adequately screen the applicant.
The National Association of Background Screeners (NAPBS) awards accreditation to companies that prove the strictest of best practices and procedures. Background screeners must go through a rigorous process to prove they maintain the highest standards of operations in order to be recognized as accredited. Only 2% of background screeners currently hold this accreditation. Choosing an NAPBS accredited company ensures you are working with a top performing background screener.

ID Validation Report #2Taking the information the applicant supplies at face value
Believing resumes and applications can be a big mistake, because lying on a resume has become a popular practice.
It’s estimated that almost half of resumes contain at least one item that is not true.
a: Degree fraud. Applicants may list a degree when they only attended classes at a university or college, or may not have ever gone there at all.
b: Dates of employment 1 in 3 resumes are estimated to contain some sort of fraudulent dates of employment. This can range from stretching employment dates to cover job gaps, to claiming they were ‘self employed’ for a certain timeframe. Some applicants will even create jobs to cover gaps in employment.
c: False references. A good portion (estimated at 27%) of all resumes contains a false reference. Applicants may lie about this because they had poor performance at their previous job, or may have fabricated their entire work history. The potential hire may submit incorrect or incomplete reference information in hopes that the employer will not take the time to ‘track down’ the reference. The resume may also contain fraudulent information that directs employers to friends or family members-claiming they are managers or co-workers-that report in glowing terms on the applicant.
d: Inflating job titles. Lots of applicants believe they can land a higher paying position by fabricating a higher job title. Many candidates will ‘promote themselves’ to a title several levels higher than their real one in hopes that the potential employer will offer them a similar position to the one showing on their resume.
Protect your company from a dishonest job applicant by looking at resumes and applications with a critical eye and verifying all information on the resume.

hand cuff person#1: Misunderstanding criminal records
One of the biggest and most serious mistakes a company can make concerns criminal records. Here are a few points to remember:
Criminal records are filed by name. It’s widely believed criminal records are filed by social security number, and this is not the case. Criminal records are filed by name. This makes it very important to spell the name correctly, and to also search any maiden/alias names.
Criminal searches are not one stop shopping. Different crimes are held in different courts, whether it be county, state, or federal. Searching a county will not show a crime that was committed in a different county (even if it was just one county over). In the same vein, federal charges (drug trafficking, embezzlement, etc) will not be found in the county in which they were committed because they are held in federal courts. Finally, the widely utilized National Criminal Database is not a complete database, as some county and states do not report to a database. Employers need to conduct multiple types of criminal searches in order to gain a true picture of the applicant.
Each state has its own laws. Some states gather county information, so a state search is complete. Others do not. Some states have a 7 year restrictions. It is important to be familiar with the laws of the particular states that hiring is conducted in order to stay in compliance.

To close, employers need to be aware of the pitfalls. Being educated on the background screening process will allow for better, clearer practices and more informed decisions.

~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 25 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.


A HReal HRisk HR can help HReduce | BCP Business Center

By Leslie Fair

Data Privacy DayToday is Data Privacy Day. You’ve educated your staff about limiting access to sensitive information, locking up confidential paperwork, and securing the network. But Latanya Sweeney, the FTC’s new Chief Technologist, just clued us in about a potential security vulnerability you, your HR team, and your web master can do something right now to correct.

It can happen on any site, but it’s common for universities, research institutions, non-profit organizations, and even tech companies to include links to the CVs of professors, scientists, executives, and other staff. For the most part, those resumes list scholarly publications and academic interests. But scroll through all that high-minded content and you may get to the down-and-dirty stuff identity thieves live for: dates of birth, home addresses, and even Social Security numbers.

On this topic – and a whole lot of others – when Latanya Sweeney talks, we listen. And here’s why. Yes, Latanya is an Ivy League Big Brain Academic. (And we mean that in the nice way, of course.) But she also has the tech credentials to speak geek with the very best of ‘em. And if that weren’t enough, for years she’s been a leading thinker about how privacy and technology policy affects consumers.

Here are some steps you can take immediately to help plug the potential gap Latanya is warning about:

HR professionals: Survey the faculty or management pages of your site and have your web master take down any CVs or resumes that include the kind of personal information ID thieves could exploit. Explain to your colleagues why it’s a risk they shouldn’t be taking. As new staff members are hired, implement a policy not to upload documents that include sensitive data. Executives and staff will appreciate that you’re looking out for them – and for the reputation of your institution or business.

Academics and professionals: If the CV or resume posted on your employer’s site or your personal homepage includes your Social Security number, date of birth, or other personal information, take the page down. If it’s a link to a .pdf, revise the document to get rid of the data crooks could exploit. Pass the word to your colleagues, mention it in your next staff meeting, or print this page and post it where they’ll see it.

Job applicants, graduate students, and others with an interest in promoting their credentials online: Be savvy about what you include on your CV, resume, or webpage. There’s just no reason for posting your Social Security number or date of birth where it’s accessible to some random web surfer. And your home address? These days, isn’t it more likely legitimate employers would contact you via email?

Those steps can reduce your risk from here on in, but what can you do if your personal information is already out there? Go to and exercise your right to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major national credit reporting companies. Stagger your requests and monitor your report once every four months.

A HReal HRisk HR can help HReduce | BCP Business Center.

Eek! I missed WHAT? Top 10 Background Screening Mistakes Pt 2

Last week we began a discussion about the top background screening mistakes that can derail a good hiring plan. Let’s continue with the countdown of the top mistakes:

missing-puzzle-piece#7: Not implementing enough screening products
A company that doesn’t screen an applicant properly is opening itself up to all kinds of problems: the new hire may not have the credentials he claimed, he may have a criminal record, he may even be violent. A bad hire can cost a company thousands of dollars in terms of hiring, training costs, salary, and replacement costs!
It is important to make sure the background screening policy is robust enough to paint a full picture of the candidate.
Full criminal history: if it is relevant to the job, a good practice is to check every county the applicant has lived, worked, or studied in the last 7 years.
Nationwide criminal database search: this search can be used as a ‘net’ to possibly catch a crime that was committed in a place that was not targeted to search. This search also includes a social trace, which will show every address that is associated with that person’s social security number. If they are omitting an address, this search may uncover it.
References: it is important to check references, and ask in depth questions that verify the applicant’s claims.
Education verification: Applicants often claim to have a degree when in fact they never attended a class! If applicable, make certain a degree is verified with the college or university which it was obtained. Verify dates attended, majors, grades etc.

#6: Failing to screen contract/temporary workers
temporary workerThe majority of companies have people on their premises that are outsourced staff or sub-contracted workers who are not officially “company employees.” These are people who are employed by other companies, but provided as a service. Examples of these are office cleaning people, guards, gardeners, etc.
These individuals pose as much risk as any permanent staff member and often are even more of a potential threat. Here are some reasons why:
The contract company may be cutting corners. The contract company could be trying to save a few dollars by not conducting proper background checks on their workers. This decision could result in missing crucial information about the employee’s background.
These employees have just as much access. Outsourced and contract staff often have free reign of the building. They have access to areas restricted to employees only. Cleaners, for example, have access to offices where sensitive information may be stored. Plant watering people have the same ability to roam freely through most company buildings. A dishonest person could have a heyday with this much freedom.
These employees are often less supervised. Contract workers often work after hours when company management is absent from the office. Cleaners and night guards, for example, are usually in the building when very few people are present. A person of dubious character could hit a jackpot of valuable information from credit card numbers to sensitive company secrets, all without the company’s knowledge.
These employees are subject to the same stresses and issues. Contract workers have the same financial stresses and are just as likely to have a drug or alcohol problem, or a criminal history. Issues like these can push a person to take advantage of an opportunity to steal or commit fraud.
It is important to put measures in place to “weed out” any contract worker who may be a risk to the workplace.
What to do: here are 2 options to take to make certain contract employees are screened properly.
1. Make sure the contract company does a background check. Review your contract with any outsourced company. As part of service contracts, you should insist on screening as part of any agreement. Require that it clearly states the contract company is required to conduct background screening through a reputable third party company.
2. Screen contract employees in-house. Conduct background screening on any employee who works for the company in the same manner, whether they are regular employees or contract employees. You can choose the reputable third party company who screens the employee AND the types of checks that you feel are appropriate. This process will help you maintain control, and minimize the risk of a bad hire and unsafe workplace.

#5: Not disclosing the fact that applicants will be screened and gaining their consent
signatureOne of the key responsibilities of the employer is to disclose any screening process to the applicant. Employer must disclose in writing to applicant that they will be the subject of a background report as part of the employment selection process.
This document needs to stand alone, it does not need to be part of the employee handbook or the application.

#4: Screening in an unorganized manner
Companies that do not have a consistent background screening policy set up as part of their hiring best practices are making a big mistake. A hiring manager cannot choose to run checks on some applicants and ignore checking others, because of EEOC guidelines, and overall good sense. Screen everyone in the same manner, and have a list of the type of screening that is performed for each job function. For example, do not just screen for criminal history if you have a ‘feeling in your gut’. That can get you sued!

We will count down the final 3 background screening mistakes in Part 3 of this blog, next week. Happy hiring!

~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 25 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.

Eek! I missed WHAT? Top 10 Background Screening Mistakes

Companies that utilize background screening products as part of their hiring process are more likely to weed out a potential employee who would be dangerous or risky to the workplace. Background screening an applicant can bring to light mistruths contained in the resume, or unsavory activities that would be detrimental for a company to take on.
succes failure sign
However, a background screening process is only as effective as the amount of thought that goes into developing it. Data Facts has seen many mistakes in background screening practices that can result in a screening process that is unfair and unsuccessful. Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing the top 10 Mistakes that can result in your background screening practices not being the best possible.

Let’s count them down!

Mistake #10: Oh no! I threw them away! Purging documents too soon
Because background screens disclose highly sensitive information about individuals, it is essential that the employer appropriately and strictly secure the confidentiality of the information both internally and externally.
file cabinetIn reality, an employer may maintain multiple files on employees. The employer should retain relevant documents in a secure manner for a period that complies with applicable state and federal laws and regulations and the employer’s records’ policies. With respect to the period of time in which to keep records, it is important to keep in mind the FCRA’s statute of limitations.
An individual must make a claim within two years after learning about the violation. If the violation is not discovered within five years of the violation date, then the statute
bars an action. Here’s an example:

A violation occurs on 08/01/08. The violation goes undetected. A claim for
said violation must be brought before 08/01/13 or the statute will prevent the claim.

Employers who purge the systems too often run the risk of not having proper documentation if an individual files a claim. Lack of evidence can put the employer on the losing end of any claim!

Data Facts requires that all of our clients keep their documents for 5 years.

Mistake #9: He had a felony, why am I in trouble?! Not following adverse action process
Red Check markIf an employer is considering an adverse employment action (declining to hire the person) based in whole or part on information in the background report, the employer must:
a) notify applicant
b) provide a copy of the background report
c) provide “A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” (This process is sometimes called “Pre-Adverse Action” or “Preliminary Adverse Action” or “First Notice.”)
Applicant may contact the background screening company if they dispute any information in the background report.

The background screening company would re-investigate any disputed items of information and issue an updated report to employer and applicant/employee.

Employer would review the updated report and make the final employment decision. If the employment decision is adverse, a notice of adverse action is sent to applicant (This process is sometimes called “Final Adverse Action.”)

There needs to be reasonable time (usually at least 5 business days) between the Pre-adverse action letter and the Adverse Action letter.

Be sure to follow this procedure every single time!

Mistake #8: I didn’t know I shouldn’t look at that! Utilizing irrelevant information
Recently, utilizing criminal history and credit history to screen for employment has come under scrutiny. A company should have some consideration of the following before utilizing these screening products in their hiring process.
Exclusion of applicants based on conviction records is prohibited unless the employer can show business necessity.

criminal historyTo establish business necessity, an employer must be able to show that it considered:
1) the nature and gravity of the offense or offenses
2) the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence, and
3) the nature of the position held or sought.

As for screening with a credit report, employers also need to show that the individual’s credit history is relevant and fair to the position. While a person who is hired to handle money may need to show good credit history, it may be irrelevant and therefore unfair to utilize a credit report to screen for other positions.

Only screen what is relevant and fair to the position!

Join us next week as we continue to countdown the list of Top Background Screening Mistakes!

~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 25 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.

Add Minnesota to List of States Limiting Use of Criminal History

minnesotaMinnesota recently joined a small but growing number of states by signing a law into effect that prohibits all employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal history in the initial application process. This law-which took effect January 1, 2014-prohibits private employers from inquiring into, considering, or requiring the disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record or history until either:

A: the applicant has been selected for an interview
OR (if there is not an interview)
B: a conditional offer of employment is made to the applicant

Employers are also prohibited from utilizing any form of employment application that seeks such criminal record information.
An exception is provided for employers with a statutory duty to conduct background checks or inquire into an applicant’s criminal history.
Representative Tim Mahoney, who sponsored the legislation, states the law ‘does not prohibit private employers from eventually conducting background checks and fully investigating the criminal past of potential employees, but is designed to get applicants past the initial application stage, so that if they qualify for the job, they get a chance to explain themselves.’
Further, the statute expressly states that it does not prohibit an employer from notifying applicants that either law or the employer’s policy will disqualify an individual with a particular criminal history background from employment for particular positions.

Employers take note!
Stay up to date on state laws. It is advisable for Minnesota and multi-state employers to consider whether their uniform job application and backgrounds check inquiries comply with applicable law, including Minnesota’s new law.
Review current hiring policies. Given all of EEOC’s recent attention on background checks, this is also a good time for employers to review their application and hiring process. This process review should consider restrictions on use of criminal information under EEOC guidance and certain state laws, and also should ensure federal and state Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance.

Minnesota joins Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts which have already passed laws that limit the timing of private employers’ inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history during the application process.

~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 24 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.

Is Your Background Screening Process Ready For 2014?

Background screening job applicants is an integral part of the hiring process. By checking out a person’s criminal convictions, verifying their work history, and conducting drug testing, a company can gain a deeper understanding as to whether or not the person will fit well into the company culture.
However, the background screening process that was in place 3 years ago may not be the most effective one today. Here are some points to cover in reviewing your background screening process:

magnifying glass1. Take another look. Knowing the specific pieces of the applicant’s background you are currently screening is a great starting point. Make sure you know what information is being checked for each position.
2. Remember ‘the I’s’ have it. E-verify and I-9 processes need to keep up with regulations. A good many states have begun requiring companies to have these processes in place. Audits from ICE have also increased. It is more important than ever for companies to have a good, recorded trail for their E-verify and I-9’s.
3. Get the whole picture. Look at the criminal check policy, and make certain it is robust.puzzle person At a minimum, check the person’s county of residence, work, and study. You may also want to add a national criminal database search, which can uncover crimes in places that were not originally targeted to search.
4. Review adverse action procedures. If a person is not hired in whole or part because of information found in a background check, you must send a pre-adverse action letter to the applicant, and after a reasonable amount of time, then send an adverse action letter. Be sure to follow this every single time.
5. Establish relevancy. Evaluate each position and decide which screening tools are important for that particular job. Some positions will not require a credit check, for example. It may be imperative in other positions to verify education. Review your screening process to ensure it is fair and relevant for each position.
6. Remember the information is only as good as the source. The background screening report is only as accurate and reliable as the Background Screening company that provides it. Ask your vendor if they are accredited by the NAPBS, and if they have licensed private investigators on staff. If the answer is ‘no’, you may want to look for a new provider.

These points are very important in maintaining an effective background screening policy. By reviewing them, you will be able to maximize the success of your hiring process and minimize the risk of non-compliance, or hiring someone who is unfit or unproductive for your workplace.

~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 24 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.

Is that Santa or a Sex Offender?

santa_mugshotPerhaps the biggest obstacle hiring managers fall victim to is:

Judging a book by its cover!

During the hiring process, managers are often swayed by a smooth talking, well-dressed applicant. This can lead to making big hiring mistakes that can end up devastating a company!
While it would be nice to think that all attractive, well-spoken, smartly dressed people were good and honest, that is absolutely not the case. Some of them could be hiding criminal convictions behind their bright smiles and glib answers.
This is why it is important to have a background screening process in place for every applicant!
Currently, there are over 700,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. Included in them are men, women, old people, young people, smart people, and attractive people. Sex offenders are from all walks of life. It is not just the creepy old man on the corner of the street. AND sex offenders are 4 times more likely to be arrested for a second offense as other members of the general population.

How to protect your company?
1: Change your way of thinking. Play a more objective role in determining if the applicant is a criminal. Don’t disregard the need to check a person’s background because they are nice looking or seem sweet.
2. Add set hiring practices. Depending on the position, have a set background screening process for EVERY applicant.
3. Practice consistency. Be sure that every person who hires for your company is well-educated and aware of the policy. Establish rules and create a commitment for checking a person’s background before hiring them.

An effective tool that helps in uncovering sex offenders is the National Criminal Database Search. This is a criminal search that holds millions of recorded crimes across the country in a database.
This search can expose the travelling criminal. In many cases, sex offenders will travel outside of their area of residence to commit their crimes. A regular county or state criminal search would not uncover these convictions, as the state or county of the conviction would not be searched.
The National Criminal Database Search may uncover these crimes, because it can pull information from places that were not targeted to search.
Another way the National Criminal Database Search helps in uncovering sex offenders is by running a social trace. This basically reports every address that is associated with that person’s social security number. So, if a person has omitted a place of residence where a crime was committed, this search could possibly uncover it.

For the sake of a safe and productive workplace, don’t take anyone at face value. Implement background screening processes that are relevant to the position sought. By screening out unfit or dishonest candidates up front, you can save your company tons of time and money.

~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 24 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.