Why Conduct Background Checks?
There is a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer is: Because it’s the smart thing to do! A longer answer would involve explaining why it’s the smart thing to do. Among the 5 best reasons why employers should perform “reasonable diligence” employment background checks are:
√ Demonstrate a reasonable, meaningful and appropriate level of carefulness to determine a job candidate’s suitability for a specific position. Hiring the most qualified candidates for specific positions.
√ Verify the candidate’s relevant experience, stated qualifications & required credentials – helping you make the best, most informed hiring decisions.
√ Provide a reasonable level of diligence in an effort to discover certain facts about a candidate’s history that could indicate propensities for violence, dishonesty, recklessness or other criminal behavior that could potentially resurface in a future workplace context. Enhance workplace security.
√ Detect those who would pass fraudulent Resumes and falsified credentials or have lied during the interview regarding their background, experience and qualifications.
√ Protect and insulate employers against claims of negligent hiring.
Failing to conduct adequate background screening on prospective employees can easily result in the wrong person in the wrong job – wasting expenditures in recruiting/onboarding, training, benefits time and salary.
Of primary concern to a healthy enterprise is when a dangerous person is introduced into the workplace because a background check was inadequate or non-existent. The potential danger in failing to perform adequate background checks can take many forms. It might be the substance abuser who comes to work in an altered state, the convicted embezzler looking for an easy mark or an individual whose prior history includes a pattern violating restraining orders and convictions for violent acts or criminal recklessness.
The statistics are concerning:
- Embezzlement losses exceed $40 billion annually
- 30% of all employment applications are falsified to some degree.
- 45% of submitted resumes contain false or exaggerated information regarding education, skills and accomplishments. 1 in 20 job applicants falsify their name, social security number or driver license number to hide conviction or other past problems.
- In calendar year 1990, 2,255,000 California drivers had their driving privileges suspended or revoked. In that same year, 203,780 California drivers were convicted of driving with a suspended or revoked drivers license. In a 1987 survey of California drivers who were currently under suspension, 60% reported that they drove while their driving privileges were suspended or revoked. And since 1987, the problem of drivers under suspension driving regardless, has only gotten worse.
- Also in 1987, 34 out of 100 drivers under license suspension were convicted of moving violations. Approximately 5 out of 100 were involved in an accident. (These were people who shouldn’t have been operating a motor vehicle).
- One out of ten workers regularly use illegal drugs (reducing productivity 35% while increasing the likelihood of accidents and workers compensation claims.
- 71% of drug addicts are employed.
The Truth about 'National Criminal Record Checks'
(Proprietary Multi-jurisdiction, Multi-state Criminal Records Database)
What Some Background Screening Companies Really Don’t Want You to Know.
If you take your background checking and verification process seriously (and we’re sure that you do or you wouldn’t be reading this), you should know the facts about what is widely, but incorrectly referred to by many in this industry as a “National Criminal Records Search.” Or “National Record Check.” What some background screening companies would prefer that you don’t know, is the so-called “National” record search is not national and when used as your only source for criminal records search, is actually completely inadequate and quite risky. You see, the use of these databases, when solely relied upon for employment screening purposes, are not considered best practices and are not thorough, complete or updated with any regularity – if updated at all.[For clarification, these are privately maintained, commercial databases that have nothing to do with a national criminal record database that the Department of Justice / FBI maintains as an official repository for national criminal offender information. Such DOJ databases are restricted to specifically authorized access by law enforcement personnel.]
Here is where the problem lies: While adult criminal record information is public information, not all courts make their records available in mass to the database companies that purport to offer a “National Criminal Record Search.” There are over 6,800 court jurisdictions in the U.S. (not including Federal court jurisdictions), and each county maintains records independently. Even within each county (with few exceptions), county court records are kept at both the lower court (Municipal Court) and high court or (Superior Court) levels. (There are also many circuit courts that fall somewhere between lower and higher courts.) And even today, 2015, some branch courthouses within the same county may keep their records separately from the main court facilities.
As an example: California, by far the country’s most populous state, has 58 counties. However, the “National Criminal Database” contains court records from just a hand full of county courts. And to make maters worse, California has purged dates of births and offense descriptions from the records they provide to the database companies. Therefore, there are only name searches with possible case numbers — and not much else. (This makes checking common names a rather impractical exercise.) And there’s no telling if the record information is complete or if the database has been routinely updated – as more court records are created by the courts every day.
Other problems associated with relying solely on database sourced criminal record information: Within the database, there may be dozens or even hundreds of common name records such as Smith, Johnson, Garcia, Anderson, Jackson, etc. etc. appearing by first and last name only. The databases seldom contain additional unique identifiers such as date of birth, middle name, or address from which helps to narrow the search to your applicant. Furthermore, the commercial database searches seldom provide complete case disposition/sentencing information if any final disposition at all.
And then, there are cases in which a record has been sealed, expunged or deferred sentencing update perhaps several months or years after the original record was obtained by the database company. Simply stated, relying solely on a commercial criminal record database for your employment related hiring decisions is a recipe for hiring and legal nightmares. Either someone else’s criminal record is erroneously attributed the wrong person (your applicant), or a job applicant’s criminal history is missed entirely because it was simply not in the database. You could potentially end-up hiring someone that could pose a foreseeable threat to your customers or employees. And we haven’t even discussed the possibility of outstanding arrest warrants pertaining to your job applicant. (Imagine the wasted time and money invested in filling a key position and 3 months later, your new hire is arrested on an outstanding felony arrest warrant pertaining to a case that would have been discoverable if you initiated a county court or state level record search.) You have little or no chance of discovering outstanding arrest warrants if you rely solely on instant database checks.
Does This Mean Proprietary Multi-Jurisdiction, Multi-State Databases Should Never be Utilized?
No! It means that these database searches should be used only as an additional or expanded search to supplement a proper in-person county courthouse record check or official, government entity maintained criminal records repository. Best practices dictates that the background company makes an independent assessment of the court jurisdictions within which your applicant has lived and worked in within the past 7-10 years or beyond* Then, the official county criminal court records are accessed and checked against full names and additional unique personal identifiers, addresses and other names your applicant may have used or is/was also known as – as may be determinable.[Note: As people may very well live in one county and work in another, it is considered important to check both counties of residence and counties of employment.] Why? Because criminal records pertaining to crimes committed in the workplace, will be found in the county where the workplace is. This could include theft or embezzlement, selling drugs on company property or cases involving workplace violence or criminal harassment.
Does Employer’s InfoSource Recommend Utilizing the Multi-Jurisdiction, Multi-state Criminal Records Database?
Yes! We highly recommend accessing the multi-jurisdiction, multi-state criminal record database. It contains millions of criminal records obtained from a multitude of legitimate record sources such as criminal courts, bureau of prisons and state records repositories. However, it is not thorough or current and should only be used in the context of expanding the breadth and scope of your criminal records search and general due diligence. Any indication of a record pertaining to your job applicant must be first verified by an actual review of the official court records or by accessing the designated official automated records repository maintained by court or state authorized authority.
In fact, with these proprietary databases, there is legitimate probative value and potential to find criminal records pertaining to job applicants in jurisdictions outside of the typical counties of residence and employment. As an example, this could be related to incidents occurring while traveling, attending school or while serving the military for instance. But again, any record found will be first verified at the appropriate county or state level courthouse records verification before it can be reported. The goal is to match records by unique identifiers beyond names only. We also need to ascertain pertinent details of the criminal offense and final disposition.
Finally, employers should be cautions when background screening services seem to be emphasizing or relying primarily or solely on a “National Criminal Record Search” or promise a same day or instant turnaround times. Results from such checks can be of questionable accuracy and can put your company at risk. The various lawsuits related to these “quickie” “background checks” speak volumes!
*as permissible under applicable state law.
Related News Articles
Notice: Employer’s InfoSource is not an attorney and nothing in this Web site is offered or intended as legal advice. We always recommend that employers consult with qualified legal counsel on matters pertaining to the procurement and use of consumer reports for employment evaluation purposes and labor law in general.
Are You Putting Your Company at Risk?
Not All Employment Screening Services are Created Equal
√ Selecting the wrong employment background screening service may have already endangered your employees & customers.
√ Inexperienced/incompetent entry level people performing inadequate background checks relying on extremely cheap databases searches cannot easily be defended if you get sued for negligent hiring.
√ Certain mass-volume (data farm) discount screening services are off-shored and performed by less-than-qualified staff using cheap, highly marked-up methodology. (You get what you pay for.)
√ It is essential that you know exactly the source of your criminal record search information and the methodology used to check records. If you doubt your screening service’s methods or thoroughness, it’s probably time for a change.
√ Experience maters! You can have entry level workers perform your background screens, or you can count on highly experienced career professionals. You decide.
√ Cheap, inadequate database checks or best practices in-person / hands-on court record searches and verifications. The choice is yours!
√ For further explanation of these comments and free consultation with absolutely no obligation, connect with EIS today at:
1-800-FOR-CHECK (367-2432) www.EIS4CHECK.com
Information for Job Applicants
NOTE: NOTHING HERE IS OFFERED AS LEGAL ADVICE. EMPLOYERS ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH QUALIFIED LEGAL COUNCIL FOR VERIFICATION OF THESE AND OTHER EMPLOYMENT LAW MATTERS.