Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Background Checks – Six Common Mistakes and Misconceptions

By McKensie Piepho of National Crime Search

A successful home health care company prides itself in doing things right the first time. This includes doing background checks on all new-hires. So how did a well-known agency miss the fact that they hired someone with felony convictions? They performed the required state police check. What went wrong?

Unfortunately, this company made a common background screening mistake. They assumed that a state mandated background check showed all of the applicant’s criminal records. This is such a common mistake that we’ve included it in our list of six common mistakes and misconceptions.

1)     Individual states often require certain industries to perform certain types of background checks, often state police searches. State police searches can be a valuable part of the background screening process, but an employer should not assume that the search will show a criminal record from another state. Most of the time they won’t. It’s best to include a multi-state database scan as part of your search package. They’re fast, affordable, and will often uncover information about the applicant that you would not have discovered otherwise. Follow up county criminal searches can also be performed for verification.

2)   The second common oversight employers often make is that they fail to verify past employment, education, and references. Yes, it can be time consuming, but an employer should either take the time to do this or have a background screening company do the work. Often, outsourcing these functions can be more effective.

3)   Employers’ not knowing their state laws takes third place on our list. Always pay close attention to your individual state laws. For example, there are currently a total of eight states that have restricted the use of credit reports for employment purposes. Additionally, some states are trying to ban the use of social media information when screening applicants. A few states have laws that prohibit employers from asking for social media site login credentials.

4)   This one usually occurs right out of the gate – Many employers often don’t realize they MUST first get a signed authorization form from the applicant BEFORE running a background check. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s required under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). Make sure you keep these on file even if you don’t hire the applicant. Many background screening companies recommend keeping them on file for five years.

5)     The fifth common mistake occurs at the end of the background screening process. Many employers fail to provide the applicant with a pre-adverse and/or an adverse action letter. You might ask, “What’s that?” This is a letter that notifies an applicant when they might NOT be hired or WILL NOT be hired because of the results of the background check. Additionally, it includes a copy of A Summary of Consumer Rights (from the FCRA), and a copy of their background check results.

6)  Our sixth common misconception about background screening is that there is an all-encompassing nationwide search. Unfortunately, there is no publicly accessible central repository for all federal, state and county level felony and misdemeanor convictions. Even FBI searches have been known to miss important criminal records that county level searches located.

As you can see, there are many things to take into consideration when screening new caregivers/employees. The good news is that there are resources such as Leading Home Care to point you in the right direction.

For more information, join us for our webinar on June 13, 2013 hosted by Leading Home Care. Travis Fink and McKensie Piepho with National Crime Search will join Stephen Tweed to discuss these issues and more.

McKensie Piepho

National Crime Search, Inc.
Your Background Screening Partner

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