5 Reasons a Background Check May Reveal Misleading Information

Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Employee Background Checks [ 0 Comments ]

background checkWhen you’re looking to fill a new position at your company and decide to run an employee background screening, you’re one of the 73% of companies that perform background checks on their candidates. It’s understandable – you want to know who you’re hiring, what threats they may pose to your workplace, and if anything in their history may put your business output at risk.

Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated the rules that employers must abide by when using background screenings in consideration for employment decisions. The latest employee background check rules state that you can only use criminal information when necessary for job-related reasons – you must consider the nature of the crime, the nature of the job, and the time that has gone by since the incident or crime occurred before excluding anyone from being in the running.

But what happens when the person on paper isn’t exactly the person you thought you were hiring? Errors in the form of misinformation or lack of context present themselves on employee background checks all the time. Some estimates suggest that as much as 79% of background reports have factual errors, and when it comes to getting a job, a slight inaccuracy is as dire as a glaring error.

The National Consumer Law Center recently reported that background-screening companies can often produce inaccurate or misleading reports. Because small businesses are often budget-minded and lacking the proper resources to conduct accurate and thorough background screenings, a new industry of online companies touts easy and inexpensive searches based on the public information databases that can be aggregated online. This information is often riddled with errors, for five particular reasons:

  1. Dismissed criminal charges: Many employment background checks include arrest record searches that report on any arrests made on a candidate, whether or not the case was sealed or dismissed or the charge was expunged.
  2. Misclassifications of criminal offenses: Some crimes are classified differently depending on the severity of the crime and the location (locally or geographically) that it was committed.
  3. Identify theft: If your candidate was a victim of identify theft and someone else committed crimes under their namesake or drove their credit score into the ground, it’s possible that the records reported to you are not applicable to the actual person you’re considering for the job.
  4. Mismatched names: Many online background check companies are simply brokers for aggregated data or power their searches by people-finder databases. These companies often create profiles of a candidate based on public information available on the internet. This data is often of poor quality because it may reference other people with the same name.
  5. Cutting corners: Many of the online background screening aggregators cut corners to improve their profits. Their contracts typically include a clause that releases them from responsibility for producing accurate reports. According to Persis Yu, a National Consumer Law Center attorney who helped create the “Broken Records” report said, “There are no licensing requirements and there is no system for registration for background check companies. “

How do you make sure the information you’re getting on a candidate is factual and accurate? The National Asosciation of Professional Background Screeners recommends staying away from free online backround check companies. Mistakes occur far less when you use a reputable, registered background check company.

Photo source: tri-anglerecords.com

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