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 found if only the married or current legal name is searched
  • With almost 330 million people in the USA and only 365/366 days, there are sometimes "false positives" – exact matches on legal name and date of birth, that require further re-investigation to verify whether the match is in fact your applicant
  • Certain jurisdictions are more expensive to search for criminal records.  For example, more than half the population of New York State requires an onerous payment to their jurisdictional entity (currently $65 per name or alias searched – which does not include the actual researcher's fee)
  • All of the above result in certain applicants costing significantly more than others to properly vet for criminal convictions.

Whether you own or work for a company, or you are a consumer needing to hire a plumber, electrician, caregiver, or any other in-home service provider, you must be diligent and informed.  Regardless of which referral company you employ, and how they tout that all their members are "background-checked," you must ask the question:  Have you performed a "best practices" background check?

Best practices typically require that criminal records be checked for all legal names and legal aliases that are displayed in a "Social Search" or "Social Trace" product, from all counties that are listed by the Social Search/Social Trace product over the past 7 years.  It is important that court records are searched, not simply prison records.  Further, it is imperative that legal name and date of birth are verified against proper Government ID (generally a driver's license, state ID, or passport).  A misspelled name, or a date of birth that is off by even one digit can compromise the criminal records search results.

So when using a referral company to select your next in-home contractor or aide, if you care about your personal security – or that of your loved ones – be sure to select a referral company that does not simply perform cursory background checks.  There are some referral companies that employ best practices, when it comes to searching the criminal history of the members they refer (unfortunately it takes much research to find them).

Posted by: Rudy Troisi.  President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening

Copyright © 2018, Reliable Background Screening, a Division of Marcett, Inc.  All rights reserved.




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