An Inside Look at Properly Conducting a Background Check (Part II)

00013880The importance of choosing a background screening company that prides itself on being more than a transactional organization, cannot be overstated. Employers need HR Investigators who dig deeper and go beyond the surface of uncovered information to ensure data accuracy and legal compliance.  Without this thorough approach, employers may hire dangerous and/or unqualified people, or, conversely, job applicants may lose opportunities because their identity is not properly verified. Either of these outcomes is bad for business.  Hiring decisions based on bad data can land an employer in court (or worse).

Talented investigators avoid potentially negative hiring decisions by putting forth the added review and research required of every background check they perform.

Below are two real-world cases of checks that needed the extra time and attention.

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

When running a criminal background check with a name and date of birth provided by the job applicant, a serious sex offense was discovered. The names did not match up and the middle initial of the job applicant matched only the first name of the convicted sex offender. Additional research led the investigator to discover several alias names, one of which matched the applicant, with a matching date of birth.  The sex offender registry listed an address that, although similar, did not match with the information the applicant provided.  Rather than giving up, the investigator grew resourceful. She forwarded a copy of the sex offender’s photo from the online registry to our client and asked that they confirm whether it was their job applicant. Sure enough, the convict and the job applicant were the same person.  These extra steps positively identified a rapist who went out of his way to avoid detection, including providing an invalid address.   Had the investigator run the sex offender search and nothing more, this applicant’s record would have been returned as clean, and the employer may have made a hiring decision without critical information about the applicant’s character and past criminal activity.

Good Guy/Bad Guy

In another example based on actual events, a criminal records researcher prevented an uninformed hiring decision for another employer due to his keen instincts, due diligence and understanding of what constitutes a “red flag” when performing a background search. In this case, a job applicant’s information was run through the applicable state’s sex offender registry.  The applicant’s name matched an offender, but the year of birth did not match.  Further, a social security number trace did not verify.  A call to the client to verify the SSN and date of birth led our investigator to an entirely different SSN and date of birth. The correct SSN was run and the address matched that of the sex offender.  A Google search found that the education, prior job experience, and resume did match with the information provided by the job applicant.  Unfortunately, there were two different individuals with identical information. The individual purporting to be the Good Guy was actually a Bad Guy.  The Bad Guy found the Good Guy’s resume and other information online and copied it onto his employment application. A classic case of identity theft! Turns out, the Bad Guy had an extensive criminal record, including forgery, criminal trespassing, and stalking.  The frightening part is that without the foresight to follow up with the client about the personally identifiable information initially provided by the applicant, the education and employment information would have checked out as there was an individual by the same name who studied and worked as put forth on the consent form.  Had the investigator not contacted the client to confirm the SSN, this criminal would have skated through the background check and come out clean on the other side.

At First Contact HR, the real-life illustrations above are used as a teaching resource for all new HR Investigator hires. If a SSN does not verify, there is a name hit (even if other information does not match) and/or the job applicant lists all previous employers as “supervisor no longer there,” prudence requires follow up and additional research by a team of HR Investigators.

For more information about First Contact HR’s background screening services and human resources consulting solutions, please call 267-419-1390 or email us at

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Workplace Violence: Strategies For Surviving An Imminent Threat

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the current best practice in the event of an active threat at work is RUN, HIDE, FIGHT.  When preventative measures fail to thwart a violent situation on the job, the following guidelines could prove critical to getting yourself, and your staff, out alive.

RUN – If you can get out, get out! Assist others along the way, but do so only if it does not put you in further danger.  Leave your stuff behind (unless it is immediately available) and go to your EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN’s evacuation route or designated exit.  Once you are clear from danger, prevent others from walking into the danger, and then call 911.  Your EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN should contain rally points (safe locations) where you and your staff can meet should an incident take place. This allows you to take an inventory of your staff and ensure everyone is accounted for.

HIDE – If you cannot run, then hide.  Find a location where you’re not likely to be found and silence your phone.  If you are able to call 911 during this time, do so.  Even if you cannot speak to the operator, simply calling and leaving the call active will alert authorities to your approximate location.  Stay calm and quiet.  If you are able to lock yourself in an office or other secure area, do so.  Do not open the door for anyone except the authorities.  It is important to stay away from interior windows as well.  During safety drills at schools, police advise students and teachers to stay out of sight of those interior windows which look into classrooms.  The same holds true for workplaces. If a threat sees people through a window, he will see potential victims, and the violence may escalate.  Understanding the difference between cover and concealment is also critical.  Concealment means hiding and staying out of sight.  Cover means placing a barricade between yourself and the danger (like bullets, for example).  Situational awareness is important in understanding what objects may prove useful barriers, and what will do nothing to protect you from injury. And finally, when you are hiding, prepare for the worst – which means – be ready to fight.

FIGHT – If you are confronted with a situation where you may wind up seriously injured or killed, you should fight.  The goal here is to physically harm the threat.  Law enforcement recommends aiming for “soft spots”; groin, face, eyes, etc, and using improvised weapons; chairs, box cutters, letter openers, and anything else that would hurt the person or slow them down.  If you are carrying a gun, exercise caution when deciding whether to use it.  You don’t want the intruder to get his hands on it, you don’t want to inadvertently shoot an innocent bystander, and you don’t want the police to mistake you for a threat when they arrive.  If you are able to harm and incapacitate the intruder, first ensure you’re safe, and then call 911.  Speak clearly and calmly, and provide the location of the incident, and location and description of the intruder.  You may also want to provide information about victims or injuries.

Two considerations in handling the aftermath of workplace violence:

  1. When the first responders arrive, they may very well ignore the injured.  Their first priority is assuring the intruder is neutralized.  Rest assured, EMS and other medical care will arrive and assist those who are hurt.  Try to stay out of the first responders’ way, and if they approach you for information, be prepared to help them; and
  2. Your place of business will be considered a crime scene.  Depending on the severity of the incident, this may last for a day, weeks, or even months.  Keep this in mind when creating your company’s EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN.  You may want to have contingencies in place for alternate work locations.  Instruct your staff to never try to return to the scene to retrieve belongings without asking the authorities first.  They will probably require an escort, or may be barred from entry altogether.

Remember that workplace violence can happen to any company at any time.  According to a study conducted by the FBI[1], between 2000 and 2013, 40 out of 50 states experienced an active shooter incident.  There were 160 active shooter incidents in this country during that same 14 year time frame.  In 16 of those incidents, the violence occurred at more than one location.  An average of 11.4 Active Shooter incidents occur annually (Sandy Hook Elementary is one terrifying example of this).  These incidents are on the rise; the first 6.4 incidents during the FBI’s study happened in the first 7 years, while 16.4 occurred during the last 7 years.The first shot or instance of aggression is almost always directed at the perpetrator’s spouse or other family member, and 60% of violent incidents are over before the police even arrive on the scene.

While these numbers are startling and scary, there are ways to prevent, prepare, and take action if your place of business is a victim of workplace violence.

First Contact HR is a full-service background screening company that provides pre-employment background checks, employee background checks, drug screening, education and employment verifications, and many other services that may assist in keeping your workplace safe.  For more information, please call our office at 267-419-1390, or visit our website at



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Government Shutdown and its Impact on HR

For the first time in 17 years, portions of the united states government are closed as the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White house were unable to reach an agreement to fund the federal government for the 2014 fiscal year.

While the affects of this government shutdown are broad and far reaching, the main cause for concern for human resource professionals should be that a number of government organizations such as; e-verify, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), have been either shutdown or severely limited.

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Top 10 Background Check Trends for 2013

The rising popularity of background checks has given rise to new trends for vetting new hires and employees by organizations across the U.S.The growth of background checks also permeates other areas such as screening of volunteers, contractors, business partners, board members, housing tenants and even purchasers of guns. Here’s a list of the latest 10 ten trends for 2013 complied by First Contact HR.

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Why You Need To Background Check [Infographic]

Your new potential hire has just left your office following a final interview. You feel great about their attitude and they appear to have the pedigree of a top candidate. They have all the signs for success: a resume full of great experience, stories about converting tough clients, and the charisma/charm and character you’ve only ever read about in hiring books.

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State Laws Restricts Employers’ Use of Social Security Numbers

In recent years identity protection has become an increasingly big deal. Specifically, the handling of Social Security Numbers (SSNs) by companies has been reworked in a number of states in order to better safeguard their employees against identity theft. The sudden concern arose primarily due to companies putting employee’s financial information at risk for years by asking for SSNs in places they really do not need to be. Identification cards, employment applications, pay stubs, mail, or even the electronic transmission of SSNs via the internet all unnecessarily heighten the risk for identity theft. With today’s criminals consistently finding new ways to exploit inadequate security systems, it’s important that companies and employers strive to cut down on excessive exposure of sensitive information.

In most states across the U.S. it is illegal to do the following:

  • · Publicly display or post more than the last four digits of SSNs.
  • · Print SSNs on employees’ badges, parking permits or timecards.
  • · Require people to use their SSN to access a website unless encrypted or over a secure connection.
  • · Use more than the last four digits to access a website unless a password or other unique identifier is also required.
  • · Use more than the last four digits of an SSN as an employee number.
  • · Send SSNs through the mail, unless the documents are applications or other such forms; and then SSNs must not be visible through a windowed envelope.
  • · Keep unsecured files containing SSNs and allow non authorized personnel access to such files.

The California Office of Privacy Protection has put together a set of recommendations, click here, for any entities who wish to tighten up their SSN practices.

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You Ask, We Answer

Each week we will be answering common questions we get on background checks, drug testing and other HR industry practices. Got a question? Ask us at

Question #3: Why do I need a “background screening” firm? Isn’t most information about a person’s background online?

Contrary to popular opinion, criminal and other searches are not ‘available online. Very few county court records are accessible online, and then only with special access procedures and fees. Most of the advertised sources of online criminal history do not come directly from the courts, but is retrieved from databases that are not always accurate or current.

Always ask if their searches are direct from the originating source or are they simply pulled from a purchased database. To learn more about internet searches, read a previous post on Internet background searches.

For more questions and answers, visit and just Ask!

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Welcome to the FCHR Blog

This is the official company blog for First Contact HR. Here, you can expect to find content ranging from hiring insights from professionals in the filed of human resources, company newsletters, information about upcoming events and industry presentations, and general information of what’s going on with First Contact HR!

About: First Contact HR provides employment screening services, including drug and alcohol testing, identity validations, criminal and credit records research, attitude and knowledge testing, driving records, identification badges and employment and education verifications.



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