National Consumer Law Center report on background check companies says be careful who you hire

A recent report by the National Consumer Law Center claims that background checks can be erroneous, advising employers to be careful when hiring an employment screening service to conduct background checks on their prospective employees.

According to the report, nearly 75 percent of employers are conducting some sort of pre-employment screening on job applicants. The report claims that errors made by fly-by-night background check companies using shoddy business practices can — and have — cost qualified people good jobs.

“Federal regulatory agencies and states should rein in the Wild West of the background screening industry by holding companies accountable,” said Persis Yu, the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) staff attorney and co-author of the report.

When hiring a screening service to conduct your business’s background checks, research the company’s history and reputation. is a division of American Tenant Screen, which is a leading provider of integrated screening services for businesses in the markets we serve. The company provides screening services globally to more than 3,000 clients, and has been in business for nearly 25 years.


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Protecting Your Workplace with Background Checks Is a Must

As a 21st century employer, saying “We didn’t know!” when it comes to the past of an employee who winds up committing a crime just doesn’t cut it.  Not only doesn’t anyone care, but it doesn’t necessarily absolve the employer from legal ramifications, either.

The solution, of course, is to comprehensively background check every single person who is on the payroll.  That way, past misdeeds will surface quickly and decisions can be made by upper management in terms of whether or not to offer smokeless electronic cigarette the individual the job.

Not only can a background check protect you in this kind of public relations sense, but it can also protect you in many other ways, including:

  • Employee morale;
  • Sales and profits;
  • Attrition;
  • Reputation;
  • Property; and more!

If you’ve worried that a background checking policy is going to anger new hires, don’t fall into that kind of trap.  Many companies are moving to a background screening process and potential employees know it.  So… there’s no need to avoid background checking.

Virtual Employees Should Still Be Background Checked

Do you find yourself hiring “virtual” employees, such as virtual assistants or freelance workers?  If so, you should be background checking these individuals just as you would background check someone who was coming to your organization day-in, day-out.

Surprisingly, a great deal of businesses forget to background check these types of virtual employees.  Perhaps it’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue; or maybe they don’t think the virtual employee can do much harm.  But in the end, it’s short-sighted, especially in an era when the Internet allows bad press to immediately become available.

Before you ever cut a paycheck to a virtual employee (or, Heaven forbid, give him or her access to your network or customer database), find out who he or she really is with a background check.  It doesn’t have to cost much, either; it’s more of an “insurance policy” against bringing someone unacceptable into your team.

Protect your reputation — background check any and all virtual employees you may never meet in person but who are doing business under your corporate moniker.

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What Kind of Background Screening Plan Do You Really Need?

Today’s economic marketplace is very scary for a lot of employers.  After all, there are plenty of financial concerns, even if a company is operating “in the black”.  So it’s always wise to consider how much of a background screening plan you actually NEED in order to keep your workplace (and reputation) safe.

Unfortunately, many background screening report providers will happily sell you unnecessary plans; however, that doesn’t help your bottom line, nor does it maximize your efficiency.  Instead of just “winging it”, we encourage you to take this quick assessment

It will reveal what background screening measures are needed based on each individual position at your company.  Not only is a remarkable tool for understanding what you need (and, more importantly, what you don’t), but it helps save you money in the process.

Though there’s no reason not to background check your employees, that doesn’t mean that all positions are created equal.  So do your homework and be wise about your allocation of dollars.  You’ll be glad you were prudent!

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  • 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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  • 5 Reasons to Background Screen Your Freelance Staff

    A lot of companies have recognized just how much of a cost savings they can see when they hire freelance staff to perform various functions.  From virtual CFOs to marketers, freelancers are ready to tackle projects.  But that doesn’t mean you should forgo common sense when hiring them

    Below are 5 great reasons to background screen all freelance staff members:

    1. They’ll be representing your company.  The public won’t care if they are freelance or not if they do something wrong!
    2. They will likely have access to some confidential data.  Can you afford a breach?
    3. Their past nefarious decisions can ruin your reputation.  Who wants to hire someone with a criminal record a mile long?
    4. They might not be who they say they are.  We all know people sometimes lie on their resumes.  Who’s to say your freelancer isn’t stretching the truth?
    5. A reference checkcan tell you so much.  If you call the freelancer’s references, you’ll have a better idea of whether to move forward with him or her.

    Don’t take a chance!  Background screen anyone on your team, even those who aren’t full-time employees.

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  • Skip Background Checks at Your Own Peril

    Whether you’re the CEO of an international, multi-million dollar corporation or the executive director of a local nonprofit, it’s imperative that you background check your employees and volunteers.

    Yes, this will cost you money… but what form of “insurance” doesn’t?  And that’s exactly what background checks ARE — insurance against a host of negative things happening to and within your business.

    Embezzlement.  Fraud.  Criminal activity.  Sexual harrassment.  Sexual offenses.  The possibilities are endless… and terrifying.

    Don’t put your business’s reputation on the line.  Always conduct comprehensive background checks… or risk the potential fallout.

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  • Background Checks Should Be a Part of the Solution…

    If you’re an employer who conducts background checks on all new personnel, congratulations!  You’ve taken the first step to ensuring that you’re hiring decent individuals.  But don’t rely on background checks alone.  A comprehensive hiring strategy must be a part of any company’s plan for success.

    What else should you include in your interviewing process in addition to background checks

    • Always check references.  You can do this yourself or hire a third party provider to do it for you.
    • Always check past employers.  Again, this is something that can be handled in or out of house.
    • Establish protocols for interviews.  This will set a tone for how all your new hires are interviewed.
    • Train any interviewers.  Don’t assume that a good employee will be a good interviewer.  Get him or her training.
    • Don’t allow anyone to hire on “gut instincts”.  Sometimes, your gut can be wrong… and that can cost you money, time and, unfortunately, your reputation.
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  • How You Treat Employees Could Translate to the Kind of Employees You Get

    If you’ve been wondering exactly why all your interviewees seem to come back with terrible background screening reports, you may want to look internally rather than externally for answers.

    At many companies, the real focus shouldn’t be that applicants are awful; in fact, it’s really just a symptom of a larger problem.  It could be that the company is attracting the wrong types of people for their position openings… and they’re probably not doing it deliberately.

    Every organization has a reputation and if you find yourself only receiving applications from candidates whose backgrounds wind up to be worrisome (at best), it’s time to do some evaluation of your company’s core strengths and corporate culture.

    From there, you’ll have a much better idea as to whether you need to make changes in the way you treat your people (and, by proxy, the way they treat your customers.)  It could just make all the difference when it comes to attracting candidates that are golden… not tarnished.

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  • Should You Background Screen Consultants and Contractors?

    As the owner of (or manager at) a business, you probably hire consultants and/or contractors on either a regular or occasional basis.  So the question becomes:  Should you background screen those persons?

    To help you determine if it’s worth your while to put contractors/consultants through background screening before allowing them to work with your company, ask yourself these questions:

    • Will this individual have access to any confidential data while working with you?
    • Will this individual be handling money?
    • If this individual has a questionable background, could it affect the way your company is perceived?
    • By the outside world, will this individual be thought of as an “employee” of your company, despite his or her contractor/consultant status?
    • Will this individual have keys to your location?
    • Will this individual have a work station at your location?
    • Will this individual be working with your company for an extended period of time?

    If you answered “yes” to at least one of the questions above, it’s a good idea for you to consider getting your contracted employee background checked for the safety of your company’s reputation, your clients, your company and your team.

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