New survey says more employers doing fewer credit checks

A recent Society for Human Resource Management survey found that more than half of respondents to a recent Society for Human Resource Management survey said they don’t use credit checks in the hiring process. That’s an increase from 2010, when 40 percent of organizations reported not using credit background checks. In 2004, 39 percent said they did not use such background checks when hiring.

The survey also found:

  • Most employers focused on credit histories of two to seven years. Only 6 percent of organizations said that all years of credit history were equally important, a decrease from 17 percent in 2010.
  • Of the 34 percent of employers that conducted credit checks on selected job candidates, 87 percent did so for positions with financial responsibilities and 42 percent used them for senior executive positions.
  • More organizations saying that complying with state law requirements was among the primary reasons criminal records checks were done, up from 20 percent in 2010 to 28 percent today.
  • Fifty-eight percent of organizations allowed job candidates to explain the results of their criminal checks before the decision to hire was made.

The findings suggest employers are becoming more selective on the background check processes they use and are tailoring the vetting process to more acutely select the kind of background information most useful for each individual job description. This comes on the heels of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s new guidelines on criminal background checks.

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EEOC creates new guidelines for employers using criminal records in employment screening

Last month the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) voted to create new Guidance regarding employer use of criminal records under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Criminal background checks have become increasingly popular as a means for employers to, among other things, lessen the potentially tragic and expensive claims of failure to supervise or negligent hiring.

In the past the EEOC had at least partially disavowed criminal checks except in very limited industries because they were considered to be disproportionately negative for certain minorities.

The new EEOC guidance reiterates the four factors used to determine whether an employer’s hiring and other employment decisions and policies relating to criminal background checks violate the law:

  1. Convictions as opposed to arrests
  2. The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct
  3. Time that has passed since the offense
  4. The nature of the job held or sought.

It also provides specific examples of criminal background policies which the EEOC believes violate Title VII.

The EEOC also suggests employees who undergo criminal background checks should be told that they were denied the job because of a criminal conviction, and that there would have to be an opportunity for that applicant to demonstrate either that the screen was inaccurate or to state why they should not be denied the job. The employer would also have to review any additional information provided by the prospective employee regarding the conviction or their credentials.

There are many more details about the EEOC’s new guidance. We suggest every employer read the full guidance at


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Kentucky Moves Toward More Thorough Background Checks for Health Care Workers

Looks like Kentucky is the latest state to move forward with the trend of ensuring thorough background checks for all employees working with its most vulnerable citizens. Gov. Steve Beshear said a $3 million grant will establish a comprehensive statewide system for thorough background checks.

Right now, Kentucky state law requires long-term care facilities to conduct only name-based background checks for their prospective employees. This new grant, however, will help the Cabinet for Health and Family Services buy live scan equipment to obtain digital fingerprints that will be used for both in-state and FBI criminal background checks. That will allow officials to perform more in-depth employment screening of applicants seeking employment in the state’s many health-related fields where patients are vulnerable and susceptible to abuse, fraud and other crimes.

The move in Kentucky is just one of several similar initiatives across the country, as state officials and private employers deem it necessary to ensure everyone’s safety by conducting thorough pre-employment screening policies as well as drug testing for prospective and current employees.

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Rehoboth Votes Down Background Checks for Elected and Appointed Town Officials

Sometimes, background check related news is positive; sometimes, it’s not.  In terms of a recent media item from Rehoboth, DE, the latter is the case.


At a Rehoboth town meeting on November 15th, Article 14 was defeated.  Article 14 would have enabled the Board of Selectmen to establish criminal background checks on any men or women who wish to become elected/appointed town officials.  If the criminal background checks came back with a felony conviction on the person’s record, he or she would be ineligible to hold the position or office.


Throughout the country, similar measures have passed in a variety of towns, counties and cities; but in Rehoboth, the story is different.  The majority of voters felt that background checking for felonies was a potential invasion of privacy.  Thus, Article 14 never got off the ground.


In the end, it’s hoped that Article 14 will rise from the ashes again; after all, background checks are critical in today’s political and professional arena.  Generally speaking, the only ones who have anything to fear are typically those individuals with something to hide.  And if that’s the case, it’s important that they not be given positions of power without full disclosure of their pasts.


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Would You Want a Criminal Working Next Door to You?

Can you spot a criminal just by looking at him or her? 

The answer is, not surprisingly: “no”.

Yet far too many employers assume that they can somehow weed out “bad” job applicants by asking the right questions during the interview process.  Unfortunately, unless they perform a criminal backround check on potential hires, they’ll never know for sure.

See, even the most carefully-constructed interview queries won’t necessarily net you the truth.  Though many will, a person with a criminal background who doesn’t want you to find out about it will try to hide at every turn.  And some are quite adept at doing so!

It’s not worth potentially putting someone with a dangerous past into the midst of your corporation, is it?  Of course not!  That’s the main reason that criminal background checks are always the right thing to do.  If an applicant balks at the notion of you finding out about his or her past, then you can simply stop the interview right then.  Remember that it’s not discrimination to terminate an interview if the interviewee refuses to allow you to perform a criminal background check.

School Bus Drivers Must Pass Background Checks

One of the biggest issues for many parents is how their children will be getting to and from school.  And for plenty of families, the answer is simple and traditional: the yellow school bus.  But what’s become perfectly clear is the fact that, in this day and age, bus drivers must be able to pass comprehensive background checks in order to assume their roles.

If you think this just costs money and is a frivolous requirement, think again.  Many school districts use their intensive background checking processes to encourage parents to allow their sons and daughters to use the school transportation.  For instance, in the Douglas County School System, North Carolina, bus drivers are put through a thorough background check and a rigorous 64 hours of training.  That’s before they ever are allowed to be in charge of little (or big) kids.

In North Carolina, the state only requires 12 hours of training for bus drivers, so Douglas County School System has set itself apart.  Douglas County School System also has a tremendously rigorous interviewing and hiring system that includes criminal checks, drug testing, motor vehicle checks, pre-employment physical exams and reference checks.

The upshot for all this planning and preparation?  In the past six years, Douglas County School System has never had one accident or problem with any of its substitute or regular bus drivers.  It’s a definite testament to the power of background checking and proper set up. 

Boy Scouts Know Value of Background Checks

As this article from Dallas shows, the Boy Scouts of America know exactly how important background checks are when it comes to protecting the safety of kids.

As the piece points out, the Boy Scouts make all volunteers go through criminal checks to ensure that there are no persons working with children who should not be.  In fact, the Boy Scouts keeps files on all individuals who have been deemed as unacceptable… and they have done so since the 1920s.

Have the Boy Scouts had their issues with bad hiring decisions?  Certainly.  But they’ve also put into place excellent measures along the way.  And your organization (or the organization where your son or daughter is attending classes, sports, etc.) could take a page out of the Scouts’ progress in this arena.

If you don’t currently background check volunteers and/or employees, you need to start doing so.  No agency or business can afford the backlash of a critical error in judgment that could have been prevented. 

Criminal Background Checks – Great Ways to Ensure a Safer Workplace

Granted — there is no way to make any workplace 100% safe; however, by implementing criminal background checks on all potential new hires, companies can hedge their bets in a very valuable way.

Having someone with a criminal record on staff can be quite hazardous to your organization’s reputation in a number of ways:

1.  The person may have criminal tendencies that he/she could pursue under your employ.

2.  If word gets around the office that you hired someone with a criminal past, you could lose the corporate culture you’ve striven to build.  You could even lose solid employees who are concerned about their new co-worker.

3.  If word gets out to your clients or vendors, you might find yourself in a bad place.  People just naturally hesitate to deal with those who have spent time in prison or been in trouble with the law. 

Certainly, some states — notably Illinois and Massachusetts — are now trying to make it illegal for private and public businesses to conduct criminal background checks on applicants.  In our estimation, while that may seem “fair” to the employee, it isn’t in the best interest of the employer.  After all, that employer should be able to make decisions based on all the facts.

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  • Should School Board Members Be Background Checked?

    In New Jersey, there has been some recent hubbub about making all would-be school board members undergo criminal background checks prior to being able to get on the ballot. 

    Though most individuals are in favor of the regulation (and it looks like it’s being passed in the NJ legislature), some are worried about certain elements of it.  Namely:

    • Prospective school board members will have to pay for the criminal background checks with their own dollars. 
    • Those already sitting in school board positions will not have to undergo the process.
    • Because they’ll pay out of pocket for the criminal background checks, only those who can afford to do so may take the initiative.

    Obviously, we’re for criminal background checks in this situation.  There’s little debate that those with serious criminal offenses/records shouldn’t be making decisions for the future of students in their townships, cities, boroughs, etc.  Still, we’d like to know your opinion… what do you think?

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  • USA Swimming Sex Abuses Highlight Need for Thorough Criminal Background Checks

    A new story from ESPN highlights just how important thorough criminal background checks are when it comes to sports coaches working with kids.

    USA Swimming has concluded that many previously-convicted child molesters have been able to slip through incomplete background checking systems and snag coaching positions that allow them to continue to abuse young persons.

    As a result of this investigation, more complete background checks (including more in-depth criminal ones) will now be mandated for USA Swimming coaches.  As always, we encourage parents of any sport-playing child to demand that any person working with their youngster — whether volunteer or paid staff — be completely vetted. 

    After all, no organization — even the large USA Swimming — can afford this kind of national scandal.

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