Be Wary of Background Checks – Especially from Referral Services

Nov 22, 2018
There is a plethora of referral services (and other types of companies) that promote, "our members (or employees) are background checked."  Some of these companies advertise on television and other media formats, while many others only promote their services via brochures and signs.  When you check "the fine print" of the websites of most of these companies, the efficacy and adequacy of their background checks are typically disavowed. Most companies and regrettably, even many individuals responsible for human resources, do not fully understand the complexities and issues in performing a "best practices" background check.  There are several reasons for this: There is no criminal database that exists that covers the entire country There are approximately 3,300 counties in the USA, and based where a person has lived, separate county criminal searches are needed, if not sufficiently covered in a criminal database Most criminal records have no Social Security Number attached to them, which requires that criminal records be searched by legal name and date of birth Maiden names and other legal names need to be checked, as a crime committed under a maiden (or other) name will not be…

Issues with Searching Criminal Records through Publicly Available Court Websites

Oct 10, 2018
There are issues with searching for criminal records on publicly available court websites.  The indented language below was taken verbatim from one state's public access to court information website.  Although it is the language from one particular website, it is reflective of most publicly available court websites. Please be aware of the following limitations of the case records displayed: The information may not be a current, accurate, or complete record of the case The information is subject to change at any time The information is not the official record of the court Not all cases from a participating court may be included The information should not be used as a substitute for a thorough background search of official public records. When searching for county criminal records, it is best not to rely on open websites that anyone can access.  These records are NOT the official court record.  Many background screening companies employ "screen scraping" technology to obtain such "county criminal records" that are available to anyone on the web, even though, as listed above, these searches cannot act as a substitute for an actual county court house reco…

Revised FCRA Summary of Rights For Background Checks Must Be Used as of 09-21-18

Sep 18, 2018
A revised FCRA Summary of Rights must be used starting September 21, 2018. The key compliance impact for companies and other organizations that need to obtain a background check  ̶  be it employee screening, tenant screening, franchisee screening, country club membership screening or other type of permissible business purpose background check  ̶  is that a new FCRA Summary of Rights must now be provided. This required change is due to the recent amendment to the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155). The main effect of the amendment is that whenever an FCRA Summary of Rights is required to be given to a consumer, this Summary of Consumer Rights must also include notice of the consumer's right to obtain a "security freeze" on their credit report (which will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing their credit file without the consumer's expressed authorization). As an alternative to a security freeze, consumers have the right to place an initial or extended fraud alert on their credit file at no cost. Just last week the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) finally got around to issuing a…

Middle Name is Critical for Proper Background Checks

Aug 24, 2018
Criminal records typically have no Social Security Number attached to them.  Thus searching for criminal records is performed on a legal name and date of birth match.  The challenge is that there are at most 366 days in a year, but there are nearly 330 million people in the United States. No matter how unique your name is, it's likely that at least several if not thousands of people share the same name as you – and with only 365/366 days in a year, it is possible and highly likely with common names – that you share not only a name but the same date of birth.  Thus, when it comes to a background check the middle name is a crucial additional identifier, particularly with common names (but even with not-so-common names).  While there are over 47,000 John Smiths in the US, how many do you think share the name John Sterling Smith? Additionally, both the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have issued guidance requiring the use of middle names, particularly when common names are searched (even though they do not define exactly what a common name is).  Regardless, the use of the middle name will help reduce false positives and improve accuracy of the ba…
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