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“Can’t you just Google?” When it comes to background screening . . . NO.

$RSK3OR6.jpgWe’ve all done it, right? Out of curiosity, you Google someone’s name, or even your own, just to see what pops up? Results might be anything from a link to a Facebook page, a reported marathon time, or maybe even an old blog entry about sushi that’s been long since forgotten.

Those things aside, some personal searches return a ton of information that could be considered private and personal. More important, that information may or may not be accurate. That’s why we don’t rely on Google searches when doing background screening for our clients, and if you’re searching Google before making a hiring decision, we recommend you don’t either. Here’s just a few reasons why search engines in general are not background screening options.

  1. Seeing Seeing Double Double If a person’s search results appear on the first few pages, it’s likely their name isn’t too common. But search John Smith, and it’s very doubtful anything you find will be relevant to your particular John Smith. Even names that seem pretty unique are more popular than you might think. Got a minute? Visit HowManyOfMe.com to get an idea of just how common some uncommon sounding names are. We found there are 100+ people named Frank Franks in the US. Who knew?
  2. “Yep, it’s an Internet Ad” If you’re using a search engine for background screening you’ll probably add a modifier, like “Criminal Records.” While initial results may seem innocent enough, you may also see a link to something like “Your Candidate Arrested.” It may appear to be a search result, but this could be a company trying to subtly convince you that your candidate has a criminal background (that may not event exist) . . . and encourage you to pay for a background screen then and there. Without further exploration, you may be misled and your poor candidate could be impacted by that assumption during your hiring process.
  3. “How did that story go?” Search engines scour the web with algorithms designed to find exactly what you’re looking for. Problem is, results could be old, outdated, or worse yet, inaccurate. For example, you may search poor Frank again and find an old article mentioning him as part of a criminal investigation, only to then miss another article that exonerated him as a case of mistaken identity.
  4. “Don’t believe everything you read online” – Albert Einstein Sure, we can pretty safely say that Albert Einstein didn’t really say that. But this is exactly what happens on the Internet. Search engines may find and report hundreds of relevant search results, but it’s not always easy for them to verify information as true or false.
  5. It’s illegal! Simply said, it’s illegal to solely use search engine results to make a hiring decision. Using an internet search as the basis to hire someone could violate not one or two, but THREE sections of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Section 605 says there is a limit to the time you can use something negative against someone, so if you’re finding old dismissed cases through a Google search and using them to make a hiring decision, you’ve violated the FCRA. Section 607 says the information used in the decision has to be accurate. So relying on an inaccurate story is a violation too. Finally, Section 613 says that records have to be up-to-date. So, finding and using an old Facebook status would quite easily be another violation.

While Googling names might be fun while you’re at home and bored, let’s all agree that it has no place in the hiring decision process. In addition to potential FCRA violations, an argument can be made that doing so violates the EEOC as well. Searches can easily reveal personal information like marital status, age, race, and nationality.

To make sure you get a background screen that uses accurate, up-to-date sources, and is in compliance with federal, state and local laws, skip Google and work with A-Check Global instead to set up a background screening program.

And, to the 100+ Frank Franks out there, we’re sorry that this blog post may now be a new addition to your own search results. We happen to really like your name!

Give us a call today at 877-345-2021, or email clientsupport@acheckglobal.com.

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Today’s “Top 10” List: Why is my file delayed?

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Believe us, we totally understand. Based on experience, you expect a pretty consistent turnaround time for your background screens. But every now and then a file might take longer than expected, and the delay leaves you scratching your head. We’re not fans of delays either, but we’ve seen what can happen during the screening process, and recently put together this list of top reasons you might experience a delay in the process. Not anywhere near as entertaining as most Top 10 lists, but we hope in some way it helps explain what can happen along the way.

 

1. Paper Records

Many courthouses, schools and businesses have not yet taken the time or allocated money to digitize their records. So it may take a little time to wait for results while they search through their file cabinets, cross reference old card catalogues, or pull out microfilm.

2. Records Stored Offsite

Similar to above, there was a time when everything was stored on paper. Computers certainly made our lives easier, but sometimes it’s not that easy to migrate old documents to an e-format. To save time and money, paper docs just get archived somewhere. That means waiting for someone to visit an offsite location . . . picture the warehouse from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

3. Strange Rules

Maybe it’s because documents are stored offsite, or maybe because their resources are focused on other tasks. Whatever it is, many courthouses will only accept requests for, or provide results to public record requests on certain days of the week, have limitations regarding the time of day requests can be made, or how many can be made each day.

4. Please send a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope

While this happens less frequently now, we still occasionally have to mail requests or wait to receive results by mail. At least it’s not by carrier pigeon or stage coach.

5. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”

We’re just like you. We want to get information back as fast as possible, and then get it to you to help wrap up your candidate’s placement. Unfortunately—and we understand—folks are busy, and we simply aren’t at the top of the pile when it comes to priorities. Fortunately for your employment process, we are gently and politely persistent, and work closely with our contacts to keep requests moving along.

6. “Sorry, but we’re backed up.”

Sometimes it’s just a simple issue of bandwidth. As polite and persistent as we can be, it could be a company’s busy season, graduation time for schools, or even an unusually busy week down at the courthouse. We do everything we can to work closely with our busy contacts to keep your screen moving along.

7. “Can’t you just do a Google search?”

So, this isn’t necessarily a reason things get delayed, but it’s worth mentioning, since we’ve been asked a time or two why the background screening process isn’t as simple as a Google search, or why we can’t just tap into that magic program with unlimited access to fabled “Permanent Records” we were all told about. If only it were so easy. While about 50% of the services we complete are through a website or other electronic service, we still have to rely on good old fashioned phone, fax and mail to get information more often than you might think.

8. “Baby, it’s cold outside.”

With A-Check’s offices located in sunny Southern California, it’s hard for us to remember that there’s weather conditions elsewhere—cold, rain and snow. Those conditions can cause government offices, schools and employers to close down temporarily. We still aren’t 100% convinced it’s true, but someone here in the office told us they saw snow once, and that it’s real!

9. “We will be closed on Tuesday in observance of . . .”

There are 10 federally recognized Holidays in the U.S. when most schools, courthouses and banks shut down. That, combined with additional holidays recognized by individual states, winter vacations, summer vacations, spring breaks, and you’ve got delays at least once per month caused by a temporary closure or disruption in service.

10. “Your call is very important to us . . .”

We spend a lot of time listening to on-hold music and being transferred. To help limit this, we’ve created a database of official verification contacts we’ve had success with previously. Even with this tool we still hear our fair share of on-hold music, and occasionally have to reach out numerous times, to multiple contacts over a few days to reach someone that can get us the information we need to complete the background.

For questions about turnaround time or your screening program don’t hesitate to give us a call at 877-345-2021 or email clientsupport@acheckglobal.com.

 

 

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ATS/HRIS Integrations…Yes We Can!

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You’ve probably heard about Integration—connecting multiple software systems to coordinate and streamline business processes. It’s a great way save time and reduce workload. Integrating your ATS with A-Check Global’s background check system provides you with a faster, more efficient solution to improve the experience for both candidate and recruiter.

Imagine working within your familiar platform environment, but gaining the advantage of reduced data entry tasks and minimized errors throughout the onboarding process. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

We’re here for you

Time and time again, we speak with clients who are interested in exploring an integration, and the reasons for doing so are probably pretty similar to the areas in your process you’d like to improve:

  • A more straightforward and comprehensive screening process
  • Faster turnaround time, with progress updates along the way
  • A more satisfying applicant experience
  • Increased automation
  • A mobile-friendly environment
  • And of course, compliance assistance

Still, many are apprehensive to integrate because of concerns about how long it might take, how much it might cost, or even how secure the resulting integration is. Please know we’re here to help, AND we’re here to dispel the myth that integration is a costly and timely project.

We’re all about the details

We manage all aspects of the integration process for our clients, from development to launch. Our in-house implementation department ensures optimal functionality of the integration. Additionally, our dedicated client support teams monitor the integration after go-live, facilitating updates as needed to meet evolving client needs.

Our systems have successful integration with leading ATS providers—probably including the one you already use—so we have a lot of experience developing a proven project methodology that focuses on the details, gets you quickly up and running, and keeps your budget top of mind:

  • Pre-developed solutions for standard integration, and custom solutions to fit every business need
  • Dedicated consultation for account configuration and field mapping
  • Ongoing communication through regular meetings
  • Pre-integrated solutions for applicant email and authorization forms
  • Secure, cloud solutions focused on data security
  • And, our continued commitment to industry best practices and innovation

Right Size, Right Fit

At A-Check Global, we pride ourselves in providing enterprise-level infrastructure, expertise and resources, while still maintaining the responsiveness and customer service you’d enjoy with a much smaller organization. Our strength lies in our ability to draw from extensive resources and perform with customized client-specific precision.

If you have any questions about integrating your employment screening process, A-Check Global’s team of dedicated professionals is available to help, and can provide friendly, accurate guidance. Give us a call today at 877-345-2021, or email support@acheckglobal.com.

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A-CHECK GLOBAL ACHIEVES BACKGROUND SCREENING CREDENTIALING COUNCIL ACCREDITATION

RALEIGH, N.C., May 23, 2018 – The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) announced today that A-Check Global has successfully demonstrated compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP) and will now be formally recognized as BSCC-Accredited.

“As an NAPBS founding member, we’ve been honored to work alongside this important industry organization for many years,” said Donald Shimizu, Executive Vice President. “And now, we are equally honored to achieve accreditation as our newest business milestone and further recognition of our ongoing commitment to excellence in both professional standards and customer service. It is a distinction our entire team will proudly share as we continue to meet the evolving needs of our customers.”

Each year, U.S. employers, organizations and governmental agencies request millions of consumer reports to assist with critical business decisions involving background screening.  Background screening reports, which are categorized as consumer reports, are currently regulated at both the federal and state level.

Since its inception, NAPBS has maintained that there is a strong need for a singular, cohesive industry standard and, therefore, created the BSAAP.  Governed by a strict professional standard of specified requirements and measurements, the BSAAP is becoming a widely recognized seal of achievement that brings national recognition to background screening organizations (also referred to as Consumer Reporting Agencies).  This recognition will stand as the industry “seal,” representing a background screening organization’s commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement.

The BSCC oversees the application process and is the governing accreditation body that validates the background screening organizations seeking accreditation meet or exceed a measurable standard of competence. To become accredited, consumer reporting agencies must pass a rigorous onsite audit, conducted by an independent auditing firm, of its policies and procedures as they relate to six critical areas:  consumer protection, legal compliance, client education, product standards, service standards, and general business practices.

Any U.S.-based employment screening organization is eligible to apply for accreditation. A copy of the standard, the policies and procedures, and measurements is available at www.napbs.com.

About NAPBS®

Founded in 2003 as a not-for-profit trade association, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) represents the interests of more than 900 member companies around the world that offer tenant, employment and background screening. NAPBS provides relevant programs and training aimed at empowering members to better serve clients and maintain standards of excellence in the background screening industry, and presents a unified voice in the development of national, state and local regulations. For more information, visit www.napbs.com.

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Background Checks, Part Three: The Law, Best Practices, and Your Organization

Best Practices

Welcome to part three of our ongoing blog series covering the growing number of laws regulating pre-employment background screens. As your trusted partner, we’re here to help keep you as compliant as possible, and welcome the opportunity to provide information through our blog. Haven’t read our previous entries yet? We invite you to read part one here and part two here.

State and Local Ban-the-Box Legislation

Ban-the-Box laws limit when an employer may permissibly ask about an individual’s criminal history. Until recently, many employers asked questions of this nature on their employment application. The growing trend in the law is to prohibit this practice. Ban-the-Box law prohibits any covered employer (engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, and employing 50 or more for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year) from asking about criminal history until after a first interview or conditional offer. However, each state and local law is nuanced as to what can be asked and when. These laws are not limited to asking a candidate to self-disclose his/her criminal history. Instead, they also require employers to wait until a later time to actually order the criminal background check. Some also require employers to post certain notices in their workplace or to include certain statements about the consideration of criminal history in job solicitations and advertisements.

Currently, New York City and Los Angeles have the nation’s most comprehensive Ban-the-Box laws.

Additional Best Practices to Consider During the Background Check Process

Criminal history policy is just one of many important areas to review and understand when conducting background checks for employment purposes. These are some additional best practices for your company to consider:

  • Review Job Descriptions: Companies should review the requirements of each position and determine whether a background check is necessary for that position. Also, review and consider narrowing the positions for which credit reports are run, and make sure the information requested from each candidate is relevant to the specific position for which the candidate applies. Review and comply with state and local laws that restrict or prohibit employer use of credit reports.
  • Review Policies and Procedures: Companies should review their background screening policies and procedures to develop processes ensuring all necessary notices and disclosures are being provided to candidates in compliance with Title VII, the FCRA, and any other applicable state or local laws.
  • Use Matrices Wisely: Companies should be cautious when applying their own bright-line policies (e.g. no-felon policies) without analyzing the factors set forth in EEOC guidance or as required by applicable state or local laws.
  • Consider EEOC Guidance: Companies should remember EEOC guidance and, when they are reviewing a candidate’s criminal history information, also consider (i) the nature and gravity of the offense; (ii) the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence; and (iii) the nature of the job held or sought; and apply the EEOC’s individualized assessment factors or any other factors required by applicable state or local laws. Companies should also determine how they will allow candidates to explain special circumstances surrounding their conviction criminal history information for purposes of an individualized assessment, including evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors.
  • Consider the Timing of Background Checks: Companies should determine when to inquire about an individual’s criminal history and when to conduct a background check. The practice that will reduce a company’s risk the most is to make inquiries and conduct checks after making conditional offers of employment. Even then, companies should not automatically rescind an offer if they find something concerning in the background check, but should consider asking that person about the potentially disqualifying information. There could be an error in the report or some other legitimate explanation, such as identity theft.
  • Consider Whether to Ask Individuals to Self-Disclose Criminal History: Companies often ask whether the question is necessary given that they order a comprehensive criminal background check. However, where law permits, there may still be value in asking individuals whether they have ever been convicted of a crime. The practical reality is that some applicants lie, and courts have recognized the right of an employer to reject an applicant for dishonesty. Further, by not asking the question, a company that hires an individual who commits a violent or other egregious act may find it more difficult to defend against a negligent hiring claim because the victim will likely argue the company did not do enough to review the person’s history. On the other hand, by not asking the question, the risk of violating a Ban-the-Box law is greatly reduced (although some Ban-the-Box laws still apply to a company’s screening practices if they consider criminal history information with a background report or other public record searches).
  • FCRA Disclosures and Authorizations: Companies should regularly and carefully review their disclosure and authorization forms for compliance with the FCRA and state law. They should eliminate extraneous information from the disclosure form—including a release of liability from the candidate, at-will language, and any other “extraneous” information—and separate these forms into two documents.
  • Comply With Adverse Action Notice Requirements: Companies must also review their procedures, ensuring that pre-adverse action and post-adverse action letters are provided in accordance with the FCRA, including all the necessary federal, state, and local enclosures. The key is that companies must always provide candidates with a copy of their consumer report and a summary of rights under the FCRA, and give them a reasonable opportunity to dispute the accuracy of the report before adverse action is taken.

This blog is intended as information and not legal advice. Readers requiring legal or other advice regarding the matters discussed in this and the previous two blogs in this series should consult with experienced legal counsel.

A-Check Global is your trusted partner. If you have any background or drug screening related questions, our team of dedicated professionals are available to help, and can provide friendly, accurate guidance.

Reference

Devata, P. & Mora, J. (2018) Background Checks: A Primer for Staffing Firms on Complying With Federal, State, and Local Laws. [Issue Paper]. American Staffing Association