A Quick Look at Pre-Employment Credit Screening (From the Applicant Point of View)

If your organization runs pre-employment credit checks as part of your overall screening program, let’s ask you to put on your “applicant hat” for this blog entry. We’ll take a minute to look at credit checks from the applicant angle. And more importantly, to see what they face when applying for positions while also battling—or recovering from—lackluster credit histories.

So, just how many companies run pre-employment credit checks?

You might be surprised to know that a good percentage of companies make it common practice to run credit checks, especially for job positions handling money and/or sensitive, personal information. In fact, many run credit checks as a predictor that if an applicant successfully manages their own money, it’s a sign that he or she will make good, ethical decisions in the workplace.

A 2018 HR.com survey of HR professionals reported that just over 30% of companies performed credit checks on at least some of their applicants, if not all. Of course, if you’re not already running credit checks, we always recommend you check with your legal resource to confirm any limitations in your area for doing so.

Let applicants know what information is available during a credit check.

Your applicant just dazzled you with an impressive interview. You think it could potentially be a great match, and hopefully for many years to come. You may even be considering a conditional job offer. Now, it’s time to share that you run a pre-employment credit check as part of your company’s overall background screening—and here come the questions. No worries, this is what you do best. Take a moment to let them know what is, and isn’t, part of the credit check:

  • First, and probably most important to your applicant: the credit check doesn’t include a credit score. The credit score isn’t provided as part of a pre-employment credit check.
  • The report will show open accounts (without actual account numbers), payment history, outstanding balances, and open credit amounts. You’ll also have access to information about accounts in collections, negative payment history, and credit to balance limits ratio—unfortunately known as red flag items that illustrate credit issues.
  • The credit check is known as a soft hit, which will have no impact on the applicant’s credit score. Hard hits, like inquiries run for purposes of a loan offer or credit extension, can potentially impact a credit score.

Now, pretend you’re the applicant. How’s YOUR Credit?

Applicants may have asked you how they can improve their credit score. As an HR professional, it certainly helps to have a few key pieces of advice on hand. Or, perhaps this has you now thinking about your own credit history. Because who knows, perhaps someday you might be an applicant about to land your next dream job!

  • Top Tip: Regularly review your credit report for inaccurate information. You may already know, but it bears repeating that you can obtain a free credit report from all three credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. You’re entitled to one free report per year from each bureau (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). If you spread that out across the year, it would mean you could go to one of the three bureaus every four months for your report.  
  • If you find inaccurate information, it is critical to immediately dispute it with the credit bureaus. Keep in mind that applicants finding inaccurate information may also reach out before a credit check to let you know they are currently disputing information. And, while it may be a little “too much information,” know that applicants may let you know their credit troubles are the result of a particular hardship—like a divorce, family death, or other life event.

The bottom line, pre-employment credit checks can be a valuable tool to understand your applicants’ approach to money management, as well as their potential to make appropriate decisions in their roles within your organization. As an HR professional, it’s also a great opportunity to help ensure you’re making informed employment decisions for the safety and well-being of your organization.

Keeping a Close Eye on Compliance:

FCRA Disclosure and Authorization Forms

No doubt, you already know the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has strict regulations in place to govern your pre-employment background screening process—and that failure to meet these regulations when screening your candidates can quickly get you into some pretty expensive legal trouble. It’s no secret that class action attorneys, year after year, continue to pursue employers and Consumer Reporting Agencies that are not in strict compliance with FCRA requirements.

Before we get too much further, let’s take a quick look at why these regulations are in place to begin with.

The FCRA was enacted to help ensure consumer protection

Short and simple. It’s about the privacy of consumer information—knowing what information is collected, and how that information can be used by lenders, credit issuers, and yes, even employers. During background screening, this protection also extends to information like criminal/arrest records.

In short, if you’re a U.S.-based business, of any size, public or private, your pre-employment background screening program is subject to FCRA regulation compliance.

Two important requirements: FCRA Disclosure and Authorization

Employers must begin all candidate background screening with two critical steps:

  • Disclosure: You must properly inform candidates that you will be performing a background screen
  • Authorization: And, you much obtain the candidate’s permission for this background screen

Let’s take a closer look at what is required for both.

Disclosure: Clearly notifying candidates that you intend to perform background screening as part of a wholly informed hiring decision. This disclosure must be clear (direct language, easy to understand), conspicuous (prominent, not deeply embedded in other forms or fine print), and presented as a stand-alone document.

Authorization: Also as a self-contained document, a clear candidate acknowledgement that background screening will be conducted as a pre-employment requirement. This can be presented jointly with the Disclosure, but must be on two separate and printable pages. As part of the authorization, the client will also acknowledge that the company is an equal-opportunity employer and follows all fair hiring practices.

That said, what can go wrong? Well . . . without close attention, a lot!

At most risk, improperly worded presented background check disclosure and authorization forms that do not follow FCRA requirements to the letter are magnets for class action litigation. Like we mentioned above, the FCRA requires clear, conspicuous disclosure as well as candidate written authorization prior to performing a background screen employment. Furthermore—and this is detail attorneys are embracing—FCRA requires the disclosure and authorization forms exist as stand-alone documents. (FCRA section 604(b)(2)).

It is the End User’s responsibility to manage the forms they provide to candidates. Disclosure and authorization forms can typically be signed physically or electronically. However, your company or organization should always consult with your legal team to confirm you are utilizing the appropriate forms, as FCRA regulations evolves over time, as does state-by-state legislation.

A-Check Global has consistently communicated the importance of disclosure and authorization form compliance to our clients. While U.S. employers are ultimately responsible for ensuring their hiring practices comply with federal and state requirements, we’re here to help.

Ask us about our FCRA Form Tool Kit

We offer a convenient Authorization for Background Investigation Form Kit which helps make it easier to comply with FCRA and applicable state-by-state requirements. Our document includes all the components necessary to customize your Forms.

For more information and access to this Tool Kit, please contact us at clientsupport@acheckglobal.com or 1-877-345-2021.

HR in a Gig Economy

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As an HR professional, it’s increasingly likely that you’ll be tasked with evolving your workforce to accommodate the gig economy . . . that is, if you aren’t already doing so within your organization. The gig economy is here to stay, and although there are challenges when employing contractors and freelancers, there are also a lot of advantages.

At A-Check, we also keep a close eye on the evolution of the gig economy, and recently found a quick read by Forbes Council Member Paul Phillips discussing the role of HR in this ever-changing workforce landscape:

Ensure your recruiting is moving at the same pace as your top talent. There’s no quicker way to get your next hire to look elsewhere than to subject them to a long drawn out employment process. The same goes for the speed and efficiency of your training/development once you make the hire.

It’s not just about making a great employee want to come back the next time they’re needed—it’s also about turning them into raving fans who share their experience with friends and family.

You don’t have a choice. Business models are changing, and your HR policies need to position your organization as dynamic, agile, and a good target for top talent.

The full article can be found here.

We are here to help!
If you have questions about your current screening program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Contact A-Check Global here to get started.

Creating a Positive Candidate Interview Experience


There are many books written on the subject of the employment candidate experience. Most have a common theme—take your recruiting to the next level by implementing a winning interview process for every candidate, regardless of position or role. In this quick post, we’ll break it down for you in six easy steps:

  1. Treat all candidates as if they are your only candidate. While interviewing, we may have pre-conceived notions of who we are looking for, but everyone deserves a fair shot. If we provide each candidate with the same opportunity—and time—we may just discover that the best person for a position isn’t who we thought it might be.
  2. Follow up quickly. If contacted by a candidate after their interview, do your best to respond in a timely manner. A little consideration can go a long way in making a person feel their time was valuable. If passing on the candidate, respectfully and quickly following-up allows them to focus on other opportunities.
  3. Use a script. Asking each candidate the same questions helps take personal bias out of the situation and assists you in selecting the best person for the position based on their responses.
  4. At the end of the process, talk to each candidate in person. Whenever possible, show your interviewees dignity and respect by reaching out in person—rather than a “Dear John” letter—to let them know your organization is making another choice. The conversation doesn’t have to be lengthy and you can reaffirm the positive qualities they displayed, which was why you interviewed them in the first place. Most candidates will appreciate the human touch.
  5. Give the candidate brief advice or feedback. After the interview is complete, let the candidate know how they did. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and if you feel they may not be in the running for this position, your comments will likely help them out as they focus on other opportunities.
  6. If possible, point them in the right direction. Many hiring managers and recruiters know others who have open positions. If you find a candidate that isn’t right for your company, but may be an ideal match for someone else, help them make the connection.

Regardless of whether or not your employment candidates plan to work in the same line of business throughout their careers, your positive interview experience will help you promote your organization’s brand, and your company will be remembered in the future. Those you interview will be more inclined to share the experience with colleagues, encourage others to apply for open positions with you, or better still, may stay in touch to find the future position that does fit.

To learn more about improving the candidate experience through your hiring process CLICK HERE.

Three Recruitment Strategies to Connect with Applicants

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Connecting with—and hiring—top talent seems to get more challenging every day. As you’re looking for your next great hire, keep these recruiting strategies in mind.

Strategy 1: Mobile Friendly is a Must

It’s been estimated that by 2025, 72% will use only their mobile phone for internet access—making it imperative to do all you can to reach out through mobile channels: a mobile-responsive career-page, text messaging services, or an app allowing candidates to seamlessly apply for open positions via smartphone.

Strategy 2: Rebounds are for Basketball AND Former Employees

Rehiring former employees is now much more acceptable than it was in the past (perhaps an effect of the gig economy). Former employees can offer solid value from the offset since they are more affordable to onboard and train than new employees. They’re also easier to reach and establish contact with than strangers who might respond to your job ads. Plus, if your employee left on good terms for another opportunity, their return could boost company morale and loyalty. Take a good look at those exit interviews to find former employees who would potentially welcome a new offer.

Strategy 3: Keep an Eye on College Grads

While hiring new college graduates isn’t exactly an innovation, it’s still a solid employment strategy. The sheer volume of the talent pool available makes campus recruitment a must-have component in your hiring arsenal. Live where grads live—social media. Establishing Twitter feeds, blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn pages with current job openings and clear, concise job descriptions should be a core part of any good employment recruiting program. Promote job openings on Facebook. Send Twitter feeds to highlight entry–level jobs. These are sure-fire ways to promote your organization to a large pool of recent college graduates.