Four Steps to Ensure Accurate Criminal Background Checks

162406124After months of searching, you finally found the perfect candidate for your (insert job here) role. This guy or gal has everything you’re looking for: great experience, sterling references, and a personality that fits well within your organization. Let’s face it: they are the bee’s knees.

Now, the only thing that has stopped you from making an offer is waiting for you on your desk — the background check results. You furiously scan the document to make sure there are no red flags: verified education and employment . . .  check, stellar driving record . . . check, substance abuse test came back clean . . . check. But wait. No, this can’t be happening.  Your best candidate is a registered sex offender?

A similar story played out in 2010 with a candidate named Samuel Jackson (no, not that Samuel Jackson, but keep reading). Jackson was denied employment because his background check revealed that he was in fact, a registered sex offender. There was only one problem, our Samuel Jackson was a white 27 year old male. Sam the Sex Offender was a middle-aged black man.

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Employers and background screening companies are under a microscope more than ever when it comes to criminal background checks, and with good reason. Candidates expect that the results of their background check will be accurate. At a minimum, inaccurate results create a negative candidate experience and reflect poorly on the employer. And all too commonly these days, these inaccurate results lead to both the employer and background screening company being sued.

Background screening companies and by extension, the employers they represent have the responsibility of ensuring maximum possible accuracy under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (there is actually an ugly loophole to this, but don’t get me started). So how do you take all possible steps to ensure accuracy?

Here are four imperatives to ensure your background screening company is committed to accuracy:

  • Ensure they are going to the best possible source when it comes to identifying criminal records. The best way to get up to speed on this is to download our white paper: Time for a Wake Up Call: Are Your Criminal Background Checks Giving You a False Sense of Security?  
  • Don’t accept records where the identifiers have not been matched. At a minimum, two identifiers should be used to confirm the authenticity of a record: the candidate’s name and date of birth, social security number or address. If the identifiers haven’t been confirmed, you’re playing with fire, scarecrow.
  • Demand that any record that is less than clear is verified with the court before it is reported. You don’t want to make a hiring decision based on information you don’t understand.
  • Consider using a provider that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Less than 2 percent are actually accredited and with good reason — the process isn’t for the faint of heart. For more information on accreditation, read our post: The Stats Don’t Lie: Why Should You Care About Employment Background Screening Accreditation?

Candidates and employers should demand accuracy when it comes to employment background checks and it is incumbent upon all of us to make sure that we are doing everything possible to live up to these expectations.

MORE: Don’t get charged with negligent hiring

Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman
Nick Fishman is chief marketing officer at EmployeeScreenIQ. He can be reached at NFishman (at) EmployeeScreen (dot) com.

Nick Fishman

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