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 client.services@firstcontacthr.com

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An Inside Look at Properly Conducting a Background Check (Part 1)

00013790In 2014, nearly 90% of all employers performed some sort of background screening on potential job applicants.[1]  The industry really began booming after 9/11 in an effort to, among other things, ensure workplace safety and protect companies from lawsuits for negligent hiring. Unfortunately, many background screening companies are transactional in nature and work within a “big box” mentality, which leads to increased quantity of screens but with a decreased quality review and follow-up.  Recently, one of these larger background screening companies was successfully sued for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), having misidentified an individual on two separate occasions as a convicted felon. Because of these mistakes, that individual lost two job opportunities.  According to court documents, the large screening company failed to follow its own procedures pertaining to persons with common names and failed to implement a practice with respect to individuals previously misidentified. The background investigators also failed to utilize publicly available information which would have led them to discover that – in one instance – the man they identified as the job applicant was actually in jail at the time the actual applicant applied for the position.  Although this individual won in court and received a hefty award from the jury, the outcome of similar situations is often times less satisfying, and the burden unfortunately falls on the job applicant to “clear his good name.”

Here’s an inside look at properly conducting an employment background check by an HR Investigator at a reputable background screening firm.

Upon running a criminal background check with a name and date of birth provided by the job applicant, a serious sex offense was discovered. However, 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 HR 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 HR Investigator grew resourceful. She forwarded a copy of the sex offender’s photo from the registry website to the client and asked them to confirm whether it was their applicant or not. 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 zip code. Had the HR Investigator run the sex offender search and nothing more, this applicant’s record would have been returned as clean, and the client may have made a hiring decision without critical information about the applicant’s character and past crimes. This situation can easily happen when background checks are run by inexperienced in-house staff, or when the background screening firm relies totally on technology to push data to its clients or end users without properly reviewing the results.

Our advice to employers is simple: properly conducting the background screening PROCESS is critical. A bad hire can lead to theft, violence, high turnover, or unqualified staff. If information is simply pushed through in an effort to add one more transaction to the company books, without any quality control measures, you may want to get yourself a good lawyer… or a better background screening company.

 

 

[1]http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/background-checks-make-mistakes-applicants-left-little-recourse/

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Infographic: Workplace Intelligence

Ever wonder how your ‘smarts’ fit into your workplace? The infographic, “What kind of smart are you” by BestEducationalDegrees.com examines how other forms of intelligence, separate from IQ, can help or hinder a team at work.

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Philadelphia Eagles Player Targeted in Bank Fraud Scheme

Ed Hille/Philly.com

A Philadelphia Eagles player was the victim of theft by a person he trusted – an employee of a security firm. Late last month, Eagles offensive lineman, Todd Herremans made news headlines, but not for an Eagles victory. A 37-year-old man named Robert von Ryan is charged with bank fraud, allegedly stealing more than $225,000 from Herremans’ bank account.

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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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Failed Employment Screening in Washington Navy Yard Shooting

Former navy reservist and contractor, Aaron Alexis opened fire at the Washington D.C. navy base where he worked, killing 13 people. With no pre-written note or additional suspects to interview, investigators now search for answers while others are left wondering the inevitable questions, how and why.

On Monday, September 16 the navy computer technician drove his car onto the base, walked to building 197 and entered with his work-issued security card to open the door, carrying with him a black bag. He would then carryout his attack in the atrium of that building.

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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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Hiring Concerns in Philadelphia Building Collapse

Center City, Philadelphia was faced with a tragic event Wednesday, June 5 when a building came crumbling down onto an adjacent building on 22nd and Market Streets. A total of six lives were lost and 13 people injured as rescue crews excavated bodies and survivors from the rubble.

A two-story wall of a building being demolished came down around 10:30am EST onto a neighboring Salvation Army thrift store below. The loss of life in this demolition accident is tragic, and now people are asking the questions: why and how did this happen?

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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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Accuracy in Employee Background Checks is Cited as Priority by NAPBS in 2013

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) released 5 tips for conducting effective employee background checks in 2013.

The Association’s guidance is targeted to all employers that utilize employment background checks to vet employees for job opportunities. Company roles in human resources, legal compliance, risk management, finance and general management should review the full press release.

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