Employment screening services tackle criminal record searches state by state, county by county

It would be super-convenient if there was some magical nationwide database that held every criminal record of every person ever arrested or convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, that database does not exist. While there are private databases that hold millions of records from all 50 states, none claim to have all records from all states. And while many states have adequate databases of the crimes committed by residents of their states, they do not include crimes committed by current state residents while they lived in other states.

Using these private databases can be a good back-up measure, a resource to use to double-check the background information gleaned Pokies from other sources. But they shouldn’t be considered an exhaustive search.

The smartest thing for an employer to do is to hire a professional employment screening service that can attack the background check process thoroughly and systematically. Gathering previous addresses and former names used by the applicant in the last 10 years is a good first step, that way criminal records can be found in all states, counties and towns where the applicant has resided in the last decade.

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A professional pre-employment screening service will take care of such details for you, and will therefore give you the most thorough and trustworthy results.

Use Employment Screening Reports to Search for Patterns of Behavior

When conducting a background check, it’s easy for an employer to get caught up in every line item of the report. While there’s a wealth of knowledge that can be gathered and reported on a prospective employee, through credit reports, criminal background checks, driving records and more, none of that is ultimately helpful to an employer unless he or she understands how to read an employment screening report.

The key to making wise decisions on prospective employees is to look for patterns of behavior, not necessarily single infractions or one-time issues. For example, if someone has one speeding ticket, it’s not cause for alarm. But if an Pokies applicant has 15 unpaid parking tickets, that should raise a red flag. Even though parking tickets are in no way a serious offense, the sheer number of them point to a pattern of behavior for this person that could signal they are careless, disrespectful of rules, or perhaps just generally disorganized. None of those things are what you’d hope or expect your next manager to be.

So when you get that report, go line by line but more importantly, refocus to the bigger picture, using the clues given in the report to piece together the applicant’s personality, work ethic and responsibility level.

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Be Clear About Background Check Policy to Ease Parents Fears

Chances are if your business or organization deals with children, you’ve taken steps to ensure their safety through the use of background checks on every teacher, coach, minister, volunteer and staff member that comes in contact with youth. If so, good for you! But are you doing an adequate job of conveying to parents and guardians all the hard work you’ve done checking into people’s pasts?

As the school year starts and fall sports start revving up, don’t make it difficult for parents to find the information that’s on all their minds: Will my child be safe in your hands? Be sure to clearly state your background check policy on a letter, handbook or whatever material goes out to all parents at the beginning of your school year or program. Be Viagra specific, too. Don’t merely include a line about how staff and volunteers undergo background checks: Tell them exactly what is checked. Does your background check include a look at national and state sexual offender registries? What about criminal records? Does the report include just felony convictions in a certain number of years, or does it include every misdemeanor and conviction dating 10 years, or more?

The more specific you are, and the more clearly stated your background check policy is, the happier and more secure parents will feel trusting their children with you. Plus, such a strongly worded, clearly stated background check policy is a clear sign to would-be offenders that they’ll never get past your security gates, so they may as well not even try.

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Follow Protocol to Avoid Mistakes in Background Check Process

There’s a reason the Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates the way employers use professional third-party background check companies, and that’s to ensure everyone is treated fairly and mistakes aren’t made. Consider the 53-year-old man in Michigan who recently was stripped of his new job because of a felony conviction found in the background check process — a conviction that belonged to another man with the same name.

The man who lost his new job has now filed several federal lawsuits, including one against the background check company that allegedly compiled the report. He claims the background check company didn’t follow FCRA regulations when handling his background report.

It’s not uncommon for is why FCRA regulations must be strictly adhered to, to make sure an applicant is informed of the background check is being done, and is notified if something is found on the report that could have a negative impact on the applicant’s chances for the job. Then the applicant should be given the chance to dispute errors in the background check, although the employer is not required to hold the job open during that process.

Besides being sure to follow proper protocol during the background check process, do some quality research to make sure you’ve hired a reputable, accredited background check firm that has checks and balances in place to ensure accuracy in its reports.

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FTC Weighs In On Social Media Background Checks

The Federal Trade Commission has now weighed in on the growing issue of social media background checks for employers.

The FTC recently released a statement regarding employers who hire a third party service to do a social media background check, calling such a third party service “a consumer reporting agency because it assembles or evaluates consumer report information that is furnished to third parties that use such information as a factor in establishing a consumer’s eligibility for employment.”

That means those services need to be in compliance with Fair Credit Reporting Agency rules. Employers that do hire out special employment screening services for social background checks should consider the following steps to help ensure they are in compliance:

  1.  Update the notice and authorization documents given to applicants to include social media BEFORE searches are requested.
  2. If an applicant is eliminated as a result of a social media search, send the applicant a pre-adverse action notice along with the report given to the employer by the screening service.
  3. After rejecting an applicant, send a final adverse action notice to them containing the language required by the FCRA.

Note: Employers that opt to use an internal social media background check are not subject to FCRA standards.

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Match.com Settles Lawsuit by Agreeing to Background Checks

Last week Internet dating site Match.com agreed to conduct background checks on its members in order to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman who was raped by a man she met on the dating service website. The man had six previous convictions for sexual offenses. He pleaded “no contest” to a charge of sexual battery and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 19.

Before the lawsuit, Match.com was not conducting background checks on its members, despite the fact that another former Match.com member also had been convicted of raping his date. Instead Match.com included disclaimers on its website that advised members to meet in public places and take other safety precautions.

But because it is sending potential dates to other members, there will be more responsibility taken to lessen the risk of harm being done to a Match.com member by using background checks and sex offender registries to weed out those with criminal records.

The development signals a probable shift in the way other online dating services conduct business as well. Industry experts and lawyers expect other dating sites to follow suit with some kind of formal, across-the-board criminal background check.

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What Cant You Find Out?: Some Personal Information Is Protected by Law

Employers use a variety of means during a background check to find out more about a potential hire. Criminal records, sex offender registries, credit reports, driving records and motor vehicle registrations, Social Security numbers, past employers, and even fingerprints are sometimes used to dig into a person’s background for information pertinent to the job for which the person has applied.

There are, however, several things pertaining to the pre-employment screening that an employer is not allowed to do. According to the Small Business Administration, the following rules apply to pre-employment screening:

• Lie detector tests: Lie detector tests are unlawful in the pre-employment screening process, according to the Employee Polygraph Protection. Exceptions to this rule include armored car services and pharmaceutical businesses.

• School records: School records and transcripts are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and are to be kept confidential.

• Medical records: Employers can’t request a job applicant’s medical records, and some state laws protect the confidentiality of medical records. Employers are within their rights to ask about an applicant’s ability to perform the duties of the job, but if the disabled person can do all tasks, then the disability must not factor into an employer’s decisions when hiring or promoting.

• Bankruptcies: Bankruptcies may show up on a candidate’s credit report, but the Federal Bankruptcy Act prohibits employers from discriminating against a potential hire or an employee due to a bankruptcy filing.

• Military records: The military may choose to disclose limited information without the candidate’s consent, including name, rank, salary, duty assignments or status, and awards. Consent is likely to be required for other types of information.

Private School Applicants Should Be Vetted Similar to Those in Public Schools

While public school teachers have for many years been required to submit to a thorough background check, private school teachers have largely not been under such standards. Though several states have made background checks for private school teachers and staff a requirement, many others still don’t have such laws in place, leaving thousands of children vulnerable to criminals and other unsafe adults who shouldn’t have access to our nation’s youth.

One such state currently working to change this law is Wisconsin. A new bill introduced by Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, with colleagues Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson; Cory Mason, D-Racine and Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay, would bring private schools funded by taxpayer dollars into compliance with requirements at public schools — including subjecting those teachers and staff to background checks.

While that’s a step in the right direction, those in charge of private schools that aren’t yet in subjected to state laws regarding background checks should still give careful consideration to adopting the process, if they haven’t already. The expense of such pre-employment screening, while a consideration, is considerably less than the potentially astronomical legal fees, not to mention the anguish and stress, that a private school would be subjected to if a problem was found or a crime occurred involving a member of the school’s staff who wasn’t properly vetted in a thorough employment screening process.

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Does Your Company Have A Social Media Policy For Employees?

Everyone’s talking about social media background checks as the next trend in employment screening. Companies already are popping up to probe into the personal Internet profiles of job applicants. While this type of pre-employment screening can in some cases be useful, there are thorny privacy issues and potential issues with bias and discrimination.

What if a social media background check on someone turns up nothing illegal but something an employer deems to be unsavory or simply in poor taste. Will their view of the applicant be unfairly skewed based on something that has nothing to do with the applicant’s ability to perform the job he or she has applied for?

The first step an employer should take when contemplating the implementation of some sort of social media background check for employees (current or prospective) is to take a look at the company’s internal social media policy. Do you have one? According to a recent survey, nearly half of all businesses do not have social media and networking policies in place, despite the fact that 76 percent use social networking for business purposes. The survey, conducted by Proskauer’s International Labor & Employment Group, was of more than 120 multinational employers.

If your company doesn’t have a social media policy, now’s the time to get busy crafting one. Set down some social media standards that employees are expected to adhere to, and have every employee sign a written copy of the policy. Having set standards for employees will give an employer a more objective way to screen potential employees using social media in the future.

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Former Nasdaq employees case is example of why pre-employment screening is so important

Donald Johnson is a prime example of why a thorough criminal background screening is needed on all employees —and why the results should be taken seriously.

Johnson, a former Nasdaq executive, recently pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud for trading on confidential information about companies listed on the Nasdaq. In three years, Johnson acquired more than $755,000 in illegal profits, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But Johnson’s story got even more interesting when it was uncovered that he had a history of fraud and drug abuse. Three years before he was hired at Nasdaq, he’d been discharged from the U.S. Army Reserves for stealing drugs from the Army hospital where rite smoke electronic cigarettes he worked as a nurse. He also had admitted to falsifying hospital records in order to steal drugs at another hospital. His nursing license was revoked in 1987, and in 1989 he was hired at Nasdaq.

According to Nasdaq, Johnson underwent a background check and a drug test when he applied there. Though times are different now, people are not. Pre-employment screening services dig into a potential employee’s criminal history and employment history to give employers the full picture on the kind of person they’re considering, and what their past says about then.

Johnson’s story is a word of warning to employers who think employee background checks are unnecessary.

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