Do you know if your background check provider is presenting you quality information?  Incomplete or inaccurate background checks may result in hiring someone who poses a risk or potential liability. On the other hand, incorrect data may result in not making an offer to a deserving employee.  There are numerous options for screening, so how do you choose?

Consider the following:

How does the company conduct their research and ensure accuracy?

Does the company research court records, or simply check an instant commercial database?  Except for credit reports, quality background checks (that include alias name and address searches) are usually not instant.  Keep in mind, the instant database searches could contain records up to a year old, depending on the state.  We recommend using a company that searches regional/state public records AND national databases.

Are they helpful?

In addition to explaining how they conduct searches, a background check company should be able to advise you on all the legal requirements involved as well as government regulations on employment screening.  They should ensure you have the employee’s consent prior to running the check (and often will provide you with the form).  They should also verify that you have a reasonable need for an investigation and will only use the information for employment purposes.  Legitimate companies should also provide guidance about your responsibilities when using reports and your obligations if you make an adverse action decision.

Do your own background check

Consider the company’s website.  Are they accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners?  How long have they been in business?  Do they offer credit reports (if so, most compliant companies will require end-user certification, i.e. a site visit)?  Don’t forget to search the business name on the internet to see if they have any past or current lawsuits.  Check the Better Business Bureau and ask your peers for recommendations.  Test the company by running the first check on yourself, and confirming the accuracy of your own information.

The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on many “instant” criminal background check companies, but as an employer, be sure you can trust that the company you choose is providing you with the most accurate information possible.  It is well worth your time to ensure you are making employment decisions based on complete, accurate and legally compliant checks. 

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