The Pandemic’s Effect on Background Checks

Feb 09, 2021

Background Checks have always been a critical piece of the evaluation puzzle when it comes to vetting candidates. The pandemic has changed the way many companies and organizations assess applicants. It is no longer uncommon to select a new employee, volunteer, franchisee, or member virtually, without ever having met the individual in person. Therefore, it is more important than ever to know the background of each candidate prior to making a decision on organizational fit.

Before technology evolved, background checks entailed getting an authorization form signed by the applicants and faxing it over to the background screening company to process. Now, reliable background screening companies offer the ability to obtain the applicant’s authorization digitally, so hard copy forms and fax machines are no longer needed. However, organizations must take caution with relying on the applicant to enter everything properly.

If an applicant is entering their information through an electronic process, this often saves organizations a lot of time. But what if the applicant inputs a nickname instead of their legal name? What happens if they make a typo and enter the date of birth off by a digit? Either of these scenarios can result in an inaccurate background check. Criminal records typically have no social security numbers attached, so it is of utmost importance to ensure the full legal name (including middle name) and date of birth are entered exactly as it is written on the applicant’s driver’s license or other government ID.

Mistakes can be made intentionally, or by accident.  Everyone makes typos, so before you process a background check, it is always recommended to verify the applicant’s input against a copy of their driver’s license/government ID.  Criminals will know to enter their date of birth off by a digit, as they may have "flown under the radar" this way before.  However, if input is verified against the ID, it will be nearly impossible for them to "fly under the radar" anymore.

If this sounds like an extra step in the process, and more work for your team, you are not wrong. But do you want to make sure you are spending your money to get accurate information, or take your chances that the applicant is trustworthy and did not make any mistakes?

If this is too much work for your company, ask a reliable background screening company to handle these services for your organization.  This will save your onboarding team time and ensure that proper information is processed.  By having a reliable background screening company both collect the government ID directly from the applicant on your behalf, and verify that their data was entered exactly (and if not, correcting inputted data before processing it), your team will not need to spend time worrying about whether the information that was entered is accurate. Bottom line is whether you are collecting the ID or your background screening company is, be sure it is being done in this new virtual environment we live in.

What Kind of Background Check do You Need?

Keep in mind, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to background checks. Each industry may have its own requirements, and each position comes with different responsibilities.  Do they drive? Perhaps a Motor Vehicle Report makes sense. Do they handle money? Many "white-collar" crimes do not show up in your standard criminal search. Be sure to ask your background screening company about which searches make sense for your organization.

Needless to say, background checks often times involve more than a standard criminal search. One search that has soared in popularity, as a result of the pandemic effect is social media searches. Now that the technology has developed sufficiently, reliable background screening companies are able to perform social media screening in an FCRA-compliant way.  These searches have become a critical addition to the background screening picture. Drug screening is commonplace for many industries as well.  

While there are new challenges to the way background checks are run, rest assured there are great solutions out there that are adapting to the times and making the background screening process easier for organizations. 

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

 Copyright © 2021, Reliable Background Screening, a Division of Marcett, Inc.  All rights reserved. 




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