FTC warns background check mobile apps makers they must comply with FCRA

With the ever-increasing trend of conducting background checks on job applicants, there has been a glut of new employment screening services and mobile apps that advertise the ability to quickly and inexpensively produce a criminal record on your would-be employee, blind date or new nanny. But one thing we’ve known in the industry for years is that there are no short cuts to proper pre-employment screening. Now the Federal Trade Commission is demonstrating their agreement, issuing letters to the makers of six such mobile applications, warning them that the apps must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The FTC warned the apps marketers that if they believe the background reports they provide are being used for employment screening, housing, credit, or other similar purposes, they must comply with the FCRA.

Some of the apps include criminal record histories, which could be used in employment and tenant screening. According to the letters, the agency has made no determination whether the companies are violating the FCRA, but encourages them to review their apps and their policies and procedures to be sure they comply with the law.

Don’t trust your business to any mobile app created by anyone other than a trusted employment screening service provider. The last thing an employer needs is to be inadvertently accused of wrongdoing, when they were just trying to do the right thing.


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VerifyProtect.com services go above and beyond usual background check

There are plenty of employment screening services out there that can run a simple credit check and criminal background search. But what if you are an employer with special circumstances, someone who needs a certain type of background check or credentials certified? At Verify Protect, we offer all the basics of the typical pre-employment screening service, along with a host of other screening options and verification services, to meet your company’s unique needs. A few of these include:

  • Healthcare Sanctions Lists: A multi-level search of healthcare industry databases from the OIG, GSA, FACIS and 800 other state and federal healthcare databases.
  • Professional / Occupational State License Verification: Information obtained includes license status, and, if available, expiration date, adverse information and specialization.
  • Government Foreign Nationals Watch List: Find out whether certain groups and/or individuals are identified as threats to U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security by The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of The U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  • Education Verification: VerifyProtect.com will contact any college, university, trade school or high school to verify your applicant’s stated degree obtained and attendance dates. Verifications including transcripts also are available.
  • National Bankruptcy Search: VerifyProtect.com has access to more than 9.5 million records compiled of bankruptcy filings from January 1992 to present.
  • International Employment Verification: We will contact previous international employers to verify your applicant’s employment.
  • Workers Compensation Record Search: This state-requested report generally contains case numbers, date of injury, injury type and employer at the time of the injury. Access to this information and rules for obtaining this report will vary state to state. Not all states allow this search.
  • MVR – Standard Driver’s License Record Search: A report on the applicant’s driving record for the state where they are licensed. Includes license status, moving violations, and accident history.


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Juniata College passed on Sandusky after background check

The child molestation case against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky got worse last week when two more victims came forward with allegations that he sexually assaulted them during their time in The Second Mile, the children’s charity Sandusky founded.

Sandusky now faces criminal accusations from 10 young men and more than 50 charges stemming from what authorities say were assaults over 15 years on boys in his home, on Penn State property and elsewhere.

It was also reported that in May 2010, a year and a half after an initial investigation was launched into Sandusky’s conduct with young boys, he applied for a volunteer football coaching position at Juniata College in central Pennsylvania and was denied based on a background check. The background check showed a high school where Sandusky previously volunteered was investigating him, and though officials at Juniata didn’t know or ask for details, they decided to pass on Sandusky.

This brings to light the importance of not just conducting background checks but heeding the warning signs that pre-employment screening services dig up. Though Sandusky had no criminal record or any formal charges against him, Juniata College officials used their judgment based on all the facts they were given and made the best choice for their organization.

Given the scandal Penn State now has on its hands, Juniata College is an example of the immeasurable benefits of conducting a thorough background check on every potential employee or volunteer.

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Tips for employers on hiring smart

It’s no secret that the smartest employers hire professional employment screening services to handle the background checks of its would-be hires and employees. But wise employers understand that merely signing a contract with a background check company doesn’t ensure that your business will only hire the very best applicants for every position. An employer needs to remain attentive and insightful during the hiring process. Don’t check out just because you’ve paid someone to check them out.

Here are a few things every employer should do to stay present in the hiring game and be sure your company is making the best decisions for its future:

1. Weed through the applicants before beginning background checks. It’s a costly and wasteful move to have every single applicant undergo a background check, so don’t use that as your first step toward finding quality applicants. First study their resumés, conduct phone interviews and check references. Then you can hand-pick a select few top applicants to undergo the background check process.

2. Be smart about what to check. A qualified employment screening service should be able to tailor the type of background check to the type of job you’re trying to fill. For example, not every applicant for every job needs to undergo a credit check.

3. Check the background of the company you’re hired to complete your background checks. There are a ton of businesses out there that purport to be thorough, fast employment screening services. But many of them are not reputable, and anything but thorough. Check the credentials of the employment screening service you’re thinking of hiring. The last thing you want to do is sign on with a scammer.

4. Know the law. Laws and regulations regarding discrimination and privacy concerns in background checks vary from state to state, so do some research into what is the acceptable protocol where your business is located.

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Washington an example of the importance of federal background checks for home care workers

If any employer is still wondering whether background checks work to protect people, consider Initiative 1029 in Washington state. Back in 2008, voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 1029, which required federal background checks and increased basic training for the people who care for seriously ill seniors and people with disabilities. The initiative received more “yes” votes than any other initiative in the state’s history. And yet, the reforms were never implemented.

In the three years legislators have dragged their feet on it, the number of crimes against seniors and the gravely ill at the hands of their caregivers has continued to rise. Residential Care Services, which investigates allegations against employees or volunteers of long-term care facilities, reported a more than 15 percent increase in citations of neglect and abuse in adult family homes, to more than 20,000, in 2010. Yet right now the state only requires a limited background check for home care workers, not an exhaustive search into their criminal records in other states.

It’s common sense, not just good business, to prevent anyone off the street to care for those who can’t defend themselves. No matter what state your business is in, you should be ensuring the safety of your customers and employees by using employment screening services that include a federal background check. It’s as simple as that.

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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.

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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Security Monitoring Might Be Next Industry In Line for Federal Background Checks

Security monitoring companies might be the next industry in line to have federal rules put in place regarding background checks. Legislation to establish a system of federal background checks for employers and employees of security installation and monitoring companies was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.

The bill (S. 1319), called the “Electronic Life Safety and Security Systems Federal Background Check Act of 2011,” was introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Similar legislation was introduced earlier this year in online pokie machine the House by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo).

If the bill is approved and signed into law, the Department of Justice would be responsible for establishing rules and administering the program. Other industries that have been granted similar access include banks, horse and dog racing businesses, flight school training companies, private security guard firms, armored car companies, and others. Such efforts make plain the increasing importance being placed on background checks and other employment screening services.

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Criminal Background Checks Come In All Scopes and Sizes

As more and more industries are trending toward the safeguard that comes with implementing background checks on its prospective employees, many human resources professionals are scrambling to research the different types of pre-employment screening services available out there and to understand which is called for.

For example, many still believe that there is only one type of criminal background check. This is simply not true. There are, in fact, several different types of searches for a job applicant’s criminal history, and each involves a slightly different scope, both in physical area involved in the search and in the length of time lapsed from a conviction or warrant.

A county criminal search is a real-time search for felonies and misdemeanors for a particular county. This search goes back a minimum of Viagra seven years.

A statewide criminal search is of felonies and misdemeanors as reported by all the counties in a particular state. This may contain wants and warrants from other states as well.

A multi-state criminal search includes over 300 million criminal records from hundreds of sources in all 50 states as well as some international records. It also includes sex offender registries with over 3.5 million pictures.

Finally, a federal criminal background check is a search for crimes prosecuted at the federal level. This can include cases of embezzlement, fraud, drug trafficking and other federal crimes.

It pays to know what kind of search your industry calls for, and whether you’ve found a reputable pre-employment screening service that can provide exactly what you need.

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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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