These are risky times for hiring employees. Unemployment has been too high for four years, which means desperate job seekers are more likely to lie on their cover letters and resumes. In fact, according to Steven D. Leavitt, a University of Chicago professor and co-author of the best-selling book, Freakonomics, more than 50% of job applicants lie on their resumes and/or cover letters.
Credential fraud isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. Candidates may be drug abusers, thieves, violent criminals, and even sex offenders. Depending on your business, hiring someone like that might expose your firm to huge risks. And unless you own an errors-and-omissions insurance policy, one lawsuit from an aggrieved customer or employee could put you out of business.
So how to protect yourself? Make sure to do extensive background checks on the finalists for every position you’re looking to fill. Since you’re probably not equipped to conduct your own background checks, you’ll want to purchase one from a company that specializes in this area. But since anyone with a computer and Internet connection can hang out a background-check shingle, do some due diligence before hiring one. The following 20 questions will guide your research.
- How does the company define “comprehensive background check.” According to ZCS & Associates, a thorough check should include Social Security Number (SSN) validation. This will confirm the person’s identity, surface any “aliases,” and identify everywhere the person has lived. A complete check should also include a multi-state or criminal database search, including county records. Be careful of firms that tout their “instant national background checks,” as there is no single national database for all criminal records. The typical historical “look back” is 7 years, but ask if the company can go back longer. This is especially important when it comes to identifying known sex offenders.
- Is the firm capable of being a true business partner or is it just a data provider? The key difference is that the former intimately understands the talent acquisition function and knows the role played by background checks to maximize quality and minimize risks. Data providers just deliver information, but can’t advise you on how to use the information to enhance your hiring practices. Also helpful is specific experience in your industry, especially with its unique licensing requirements and disciplinary measures.
- Does the firm help with Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance? All legitimate background check firms should be capable of advising customers on how to comply with the law. To this end, the company should be intimately familiar with FCRA, as well as relevant statutes in all 50 state jurisdictions. It should also be expert in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules, as well as other anti-discrimination laws.
- Is the firm’s online system efficient and effective at taking orders and reporting results? You obviously want one that is free from glitches and available when you need it.
- Is the provider capable of tailoring a program to your needs rather than pitching a one-size-fits-all solution? The latter approach may be cheaper in the short run, but actually cost more over time.
- Does the company promise to deliver a background report in 24 hours or less? If so, be careful. No reputable firm will make this promise.
- Does the company background check its own employees? Remove from consideration any firm that can’t document its employee screening practices, including a rigorous background check.
- Does the firm have “live” employees available to answer questions or are you forced to deal only with an online system. If the former, is one employee assigned to service your account? Also, will you have access to higher-level managers for more complicated questions?
- What is the caliber of the company’s front-line workers? Are they experienced or “newbies”? What initial and ongoing training does the firm provide to its employees?
- How does the firm handle null or void Date-of-Birth searches? Databases typically are configured to work only with candidate names and DOBs. The problem is, some states may only provide impartial or even no DOB information. So a database search wouldn’t include information from these states. To protect yourself, make sure the background-check firm supplements name and DOB searches with name-match only searches.
- Can the firm provide evidence of a rigorous quality-control system to assure the delivery of accurate information?
- Does the firm safeguard candidate SSNs? Make sure it has a security certificate for its online system (for example, Cybertrust). Also, does the firm protect background report data? Ask to see its privacy and data-security policies.
- Does the provider send work offshore? This may increase your liability since some foreign locations might have weaker ID theft and confidentiality protections.
- Does the company tout its low fees? If a company is offering “national background checks” for $10 or less,” be careful. They’re not likely to be comprehensive.
- Are aliases included in the standard prices. Most companies only charge for the name provided and then charges extra for aliases.
- Will its background check fee be roughly the same as your average employee’s first-day salary? If it’s more, you’ll be paying too much. If it’s less, you may not be getting a comprehensive check.
- Is the company quoting on the basis of stripped-down searches, then adding extra charges on the back end? Avoid doing business with firms that engage in deceptive sales practices.
- Is the company willing to provide references, especially from companies similar to yours?
- Is the company a member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS)? Also, give the firm extra points for having completed the NAPBS accreditation program (Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program or BSAAP).
- Bottom line, can the firm you’re considering deliver quick, accurate, comprehensive, and reasonably priced background checks using legal and prudent business practices?
This article originally appeared at EthicsTags:background check, background checks, background screening, credit report, criminal histories, embezelment, Employee Background Check, employee theft, Employees Verification, Fair Credit Reporting Act, fraudulent workers, Infotrack Information Services, Job Seeker, pre employment screening, pre-employment credit check, reputation, Sex Offender