Federal Government looking into flawed background checks

The Justice Department filed a civil complaint against its largest security check contractor, alleging they defrauded the US out of 700,000 flawed background checks.

The firm, USIS, was responsible for conducting background checks on NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. The suit claims about 40% of the background checks between March 2008- September 2012 were not completed per the agreement of their contract.

One former USIS employee claims the company rushed background screenings through to secure over $12 million in bonuses from the federal government, while giving the impression the screenings were more in-depth.

According to the company’s whistleblower, USIS used software to mark electronic “Review Complete” notations, without property completing the mandated screening process.

The government paid USIS between $95-$2500 per background check, depending the level of security and type of screening completed.

For this and more information about employee screenings, please visit our website at http://www.verifyprotect.com.

Cause for concern? Obamacare law doesn’t screen possible felons

Two lawmakers are questioning why persons who assist with signing individuals up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act are not required to undergo criminal background checks.

The  congressmen – Pete Sessions R-TX, and Darrell Issa R-CA – wrote an oped for the Dallas Morning News expressing concern that “navigators” authorized under the ACA to be entrusted with sensitive and personal information could actually be convicted felons because there is no system in place for screening.

Sessions is concerned that that an oversight in the in 2010 ACA led to the law not requiring criminal background checks for navigators. These persons are charged with handling social security numbers and personal financial information, which could lead to identity theft and fraud if left in the wrong hands.

The only stipulation in the law is that navigators shall not work for any health insurance provider or receive any kickbacks from insurers for enrollees.

What do you think? Should there be a federal requirement for all navigators to undergo criminal background checks?

For this and more information about employee background screenings, please visit our website http://www.verifyprotect.com

 

NY Lawmakers considering stricter background check laws

New York lawmakers are asking state adult care facilities to offer suggestions on how to improve hiring practices after two endangerment incidents in 2013 were made public.

Earlier this year, a level 3 sex offender was discovered to have inappropriate contact with a 91-yr old resident in an assisted living facility.

A second worker, who was employed by a home for disabled adults, was found sleeping in a locked room during work hours. The residents of the facility ended up pulling the fire alarm when they could not locate her, which alerted authorities. It was revealed the employee had a criminal record that included prior arrests for DUI and drug-related charges.

New York does not currently have a state law requiring assisted living homes to do background checks on employees. One senator has decided that needs to change.

Senator Huge Farley plans to introduce legislation that would mandate criminal background screenings for all persons working with disabled adults.

For this and more information about employee screenings, please visit our website at http://www.verifyprotect.com

 

 

CA law cracks down on employee background screenings

A new law signed by California governor Jerry Brown now requires that state and municipal governments must first determine if job applicants are qualified for a position BEFORE inquiring about their criminal past.

This law was in response to groups lobbying for employers to lower the barrier for employment. The momentum for “Ban The Box” laws has been gaining speed in recent years, with Hawaii being the first to overhaul job applications with questions about criminal convictions fifteen years ago.

California’s new law also requires that state and local agencies also delay an employee background check until they determine if a candidate is qualified for a position. However, positions that are exempt include this in law enforcement or education, where background checks are required by law.

Ten states now have Ban the Box laws, with Minnesota and Rhode Island passing similar legislation this past summer.

For this and more information about the legalities of employee screening, please visit our website at http://www.verifyprotect.com

Navy Yard Shooter Passed Employee Background Check

Defense contractors who ran a criminal background check on navy yard gunman Aaron Alexis this past June said his record contained only information about a traffic violation. However, further research into Alexis’ past found that at least two prior incidents involving gunfire saw him questioned by police.

A Seattle police report from 2004 alleged Alexis was arrested for “mischief” after he shot out the tires of a man’s care after an argument. Later in 2010, while stationed in Fort Worth he was arrested again after a neighbor reported he shot a bullet through the ceiling of her apartment. The neighbor said Alexis had complained about noise and she told police she was “terrified” of him. He was not charged in that incident because he claimed the gun discharged accidentally.

Despite these incidents, Alexis not only cleared the background check performed by his most recent employer, but he also had security clearance to access the navy yard in Washington, DC.

In addition to his employee screenings, the Virginia gun shop where Alexis purchased the weapon used in the mass shootings also conducted their own background screening this summer. There no red flags in that report, either.

The defense contractor that employed Alexis this year said they would not have hired him had they known about his previous arrests for gun-related offenses. Many are now questioning how he was able to maintain his security clearance despite being honorably discharged from the Navy in 2011 for misconduct issues. Currently, federal standards require employees with such a clearance only need to be re-vetted every ten years.

What do you think? Should the shooters previous gun incidents have showed up on background screenings?

For this and more information about employee background screenings, please visit our website at http://www.verifyprotect.com

For more information on employee screenings and criminal background checks, visit http://www.verifyprotect.com

Background Screenings ban some parents from schools

Criminal background checks are not only keeping teachers with prior convictions out of schools, they are keeping some parents from volunteering where children need them the most.

One county in Louisville, Kentucky has rejected hundreds of parents from being able to volunteer at their childrens’ schools because of past criminal records. Some of the parents being flagged had committed crimes decades ago, but the school has a strict policy against convicted felons. Even individuals with non-violent convictions, which had nothing to do with children, have been blocked.

This is not the first school system in the U.S. to bar parents with criminal records from volunteering. Two years ago, parents in a Michigan county lobbied the school board to change their policy. They asked the city to consider volunteers with criminal backgrounds on a case-by-case basis instead banning them across the board.

Last year, a Rhode Island school system revised its policy after a mother was prohibited from volunteering after a background check revealed of a felony drug conviction that predated the birth of her daughter. Now, the county doesn’t automatically disqualify parents with drug or other offenses, and gives consideration to each individual’s history. Parents are also allowed to plead their case by presenting proof of rehabilitative efforts and demonstrate current community involvement.

What do you think? Should parent volunteers in be banned from chaperoning field trips because crimes they committed in the past?

For more information on employee screenings and criminal background checks, visit http://www.verifyprotect.com

Seattle Laws Restrict Employee Background Checks

This November, new laws will go into effect that will restrict how employers in the city of Seattle can use information obtained through criminal background checks.

First, the ordinances will affects the timing of when an employee screening may be completed. Employers will only be allowed to proceed with a background check AFTER job applicants have been interviewed and been given considering for a position based on their experience and having other necessary qualifications.

Employers are also limited to how they can use information obtained through a criminal background report. First, the employer can only disqualify a job candidate based on their convictions, not for crimes they have been arrested for and subsequently acquitted.

Secondly, the employer has to offer legitimate correlation as to why a person’s criminal record could make them a high-risk employee for a particular business or job position. For example, a person with a DUI conviction can be refused a job driving a bus, but not necessarily a job answering telephones.

If the person’s criminal background report reveals the job candidate is pending litigation for a crime, they can only be refused employment if there is a legitimate business reason they could be a threat to the company. For example, a person who is being accused of shoplifting can be turned down for a job as retail manager with access to store merchandise.

There are some employers who are excluded from the new criminal background limitations. Those include positions held in the category of law enforcement officers, security agents, criminal justice, or those working with minors, elderly and disabled adults.

Visit www.verifyprotect.com for more information about our employee background screening solutions.

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Screening only one facet of avoiding, or catching, a criminal

The headlines on the Jerry Sandusky trial are a clear indication that there needs to be more than background checks in order to protect children from predators. For those not familiar with the case, Sandusky is the former Penn State assistant football coach who is currently facing 52 counts tied to what prosecutors say was his sexual abuse of at least 10 boys over a span of 15 years. The state says Sandusky met many of his alleged victims through The Second Mile, a charity for underprivileged youths that he founded.

Avoiding the hiring of someone with a criminal record that could pose a threat to your company or your employees is one thing. But catching a criminal is another, and a background check doesn’t always reveal one. Sandusky, though his trial is ongoing and he hasn’t been convicted of any crime yet, had no criminal record leading up to this recent arrest.

Last week the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), one of the nation’s largest volunteer sports organizations, announced aggressive actions to implement the measures put forth by two independent task forces. The first steps include requiring that all adults involved in AAU activities – from volunteer coaches to AAU staff – undergo detailed background checks. The second is adopting clear policies and procedures designed to ensure that young athletes are never left alone with individual adults. And the third step is requiring all AAU volunteers and staff to report any incidents of suspected child abuse to law enforcement and to officials of the AAU and related sports clubs.

The action was prompted after child sexual abuse allegations were lodged against an ex-president of the group, according to news reports. In total, there are 42 recommendations for changes in AAU policies, procedures and protocols, all designed to make young athletes safer. The recommendations cover six broad subject areas: culture, protocols, screening, participation, training and reporting.

The fact that screening, employment screening and volunteer screening, is only part of the recommendations is a good indication that every employer and every organization across all industries should have a multi-tiered system in place for preventing – or at least catching — such abuse.

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Clearing up myths about background checks

With the use of background checks increasingly in the news, employees and job seekers across all industries are becoming more wary of what details about their personal and professional histories are being researched, reviewed and used against them during the hiring process.

The vast majority of employers use fair, unbiased measures to help them determine the best applicant for a particular job. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a slew of misconceptions out there regarding employment screening. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions, which all employers should be aware of as you journey through the hiring process.

Myth 1: Background check policies are the biggest reason the unemployment rate is so high. This is untrue. Background checks do keep the occasional applicant from securing the job, but background check policies are put in place to ensure the best applicants are hired and retained. The goal is to hire, not to keep a position unfilled.

Myth 2: If you have a criminal record, you won’t be hired. While having a criminal record could pose some difficulties during the hiring process, that depends on how long ago the crime was committed, the nature of the conviction, among other things. According to one survey, less than 10 percent of applicants with criminal records are denied employment.

Myth 3: Employers factor in your credit score when deciding whether or not to hire you. Not true in most cases. Credit checks are typically done when the job in question involves handling money and keeping track of finances. Even so, most employers use what’s called an Employment Credit Report, which does not include a credit score.

Myth 4:  Applicants aren’t given a chance to correct or argue findings. Actually, by law employers are required to give job applicants a copy of their background check and allow them to clear up any misinformation.

As with most areas of business, communication is key. Make sure your policies are clearly stated, and strictly followed. And give prospective employees the chance to clear up any misinformation that might have been uncovered during the process.

Dont make assumptions when hiring seasonal workers

More assumptions are made about summer and seasonal workers than perhaps any other segment of the workforce. Think about it: If you hire seasonal workers in the summertime, how many of them are young adults? Do you assume what kind of past they have based on the way they dress or where they go to school? Do you assume they’re too young to have a criminal record? Do you assume, if they worked for you last summer, or perhaps several summers in a row, that they haven’t gotten into any trouble in the nine months since you last saw them? If a highly respected, returning employee has brought a friend, cousin or brother to apply for a job with you as well, do you assume anything about their employability based mostly on the personal reference given to you by your current (or former) employee?

Employers need to make intelligent decisions on their seasonal and summer workforce that are based on facts, not assumptions. Many employers don’t bother with typical employment screening processes for seasonal employees, believing it to be too much hassle and too much money to spend on short-term workers. But your business is worth being careful with employees all the time, not just certain times of the year or with certain types of positions.

As you begin advertising for summer positions, and as the job applications start coming in, along with familiar faces of past seasonal employees popping into your office to see about summer work, make sure you’ve got impartial employment screening practices in place, so that you can be sure you’re hiring the most trustworthy employees, not just the familiar ones, or the ones you assume will be best.

 

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