Most hiring managers understand the importance of background checks in protecting businesses from unqualified and unscrupulous employees. However, background checks vary significantly in their quality and ability to cause more harm than good.
Getting careless when conducting background checks — either through questionable outside agencies or inexperienced in-house personnel — can cause your business to run afoul of complex laws at the local, state and federal levels. Background check issues also can result in inaccuracies that lead to hiring mistakes or unwitting discrimination.
How Do Background Check Errors Occur?
Not all background screening firms are the same. If you’re concerned primarily with the cost of background checks rather than the methodology and quality, you may get disappointing or even damaging results.
Some providers claim speed, accuracy and service levels that they simply don’t meet, but employers work with them because of low cost or impressive-sounding technologies. In some cases, such providers may report error-ridden and unverified data that rushed human resources staff may use to rule out job candidates.
Information that is out of date also can cause significant problems for hiring managers who use it to decide among multiple candidates. In some cases, mistakes occur when background check providers pull information from old databases rather than conducting real-time checks of current court records.
Inaccurate Background Checks Can Cause Serious Harm
Companies, candidates for employment and current staff members can suffer harm from inaccurate or improperly conducted background screenings.
For example, negative information like evidence of criminal convictions can turn up — but can belong to an individual with a similar name rather than the candidate being screened. Charges that were later dropped for any number of reasons can show up as criminal convictions.
A mistake as simple as a transposed number in a birth date can bring up incorrect information. As a result, candidates can be denied jobs, and current employees can be penalized or fired. Such mistakes can and do happen every day, and companies are sued and suffer damage to their reputations.
Best Practices for Background Screenings
Consider these best practices to ensure that your company conducts thorough, accurate employment screening and verification that adhere to all applicable laws.
Avoid decisions based on social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. While social networks can contribute to a background screen, they can be prone to errors, cases of mistaken identities, and discrimination accusations. An experienced background check provider can use the information in a social profile in conjunction with other information for maximum accuracy.
Avoid reliance on personal references. Employment candidates typically will provide only references who will make positive statements, and the information may not be accurate
Discount past background checks. Vetting by a previous employer doesn’t negate the need for a current background screening. Information can change, and the past employer may have used questionable methods.
Ensure adherence to the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other applicable laws. A qualified background screening firm can advise you on proper disclosure of candidates’ rights and gaining the necessary authorizations for financial checks.
Follow requirements for proper notification to candidates who are denied employment based on information gathered in a background screening. Your background check firm can assist you with providing proper notices and copies of reports to candidates, along with properly disposing of documents that will not be retained.
Conduct Comprehensive, Accurate Background Screenings
Careless or incomplete background checks can cause damage to your company’s reputation and increase your exposure to discrimination allegations. To ensure that you base your hiring and retention decisions on up-to-date, accurate information, work with an experienced, reputable provider.
Global Verification Network offers thorough background screenings to provide you with peace of mind. To learn more about our services or to request a quote, please contact Global Verification Network.