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The Inside Story:
The Best Background Check Service

(Questions You Should Ask YOUR Background Check Vendor)

by Glenn Hammer

Best Background Check Service – The Inside Story
Because of the significant differences between background checks and background check companies "Buyer Beware" and "You Get What You Pay For" are important mottos to consider when selecting a background check company and when determining the type of background check to be run.

Accredited VS. Non-Accredited Background Check Company
A background screening company’s participation in industry accreditation programs and organizations is an important indication of that company's attitudes and practices.

Two important industry organizations of note are the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and ConcernedCRAs.

The mission of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) is to promote ethical business practices, promote compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and foster awareness of issues related to consumer protection and privacy rights within the background screening industry. Membership in the association is self-policing.

ConcernedCRAs.com is a group of like-minded Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA's) dedicated to consumer protection by not sending Personally Identifiable Information (PPI's) Off Shore without Client and Applicant Notifications and by proper and responsible use of National Criminal Databases. ConcernedCRAs.com members are self-certified.

The Better Business Bureau logo is familiar to many. A business displaying the BBB logo online implies that the business is BBB Accredited, commits to adhere to the BBB Code of Business Practices (including the BBB online advertising standard), and commits to work with its customers and BBB to resolve disputes. Click on the seal to verify that the business is certified and review the information the BBB has about the business and the history of disputes reported to the BBB.


Real Criminal Record Checks VS. Criminal Database Checks
Criminal Databases are notoriously incomplete and out of date. There are significant holes in the coverage in geography, time, accuracy, and completeness. What information is included, when it is included, and how it is included varies greatly for both commercial compilers and government reporting agencies. Most criminal database searches are not compliant with the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) and similar state laws. Therefore, any "hits" must be verified with the proper jurisdiction.

A Proper Criminal Record check is conducted by searching court records in the jurisdiction of interest. A criminal database check is a research tool properly used only to identify jurisdictions of interest. A criminal database check is not a background check in and of itself.

Quality background check companies recommend State/Multi-State Criminal Database Checks as research tools to widen the geographical area being searched for criminal records. This allows employers to better protect themselves from individuals who may be trying to hide criminal records. Because of the incomplete and inaccurate nature of a criminal database search, any "hits" are verified with the proper jurisdiction before they are reported to the employer.

Criminal Database Limitations: A Database Search Is Not A Background Check
ConcernedCRAs: Responsible Use of Criminal Records Database

Comprehensive Criminal Record Check VS. Single County Single Name Check
Courts do not share records. Each criminal record repository contains different record types, covers different geographic areas, and covers different time periods. Many criminal record types and jurisdictions may need to be searched depending on the employer and the position the applicant will be filling. Criminal record checks may include:
The best background check services will help employers determine the criminal record checks appropriate to their unique situations.

Employment Criminal Background Checks

Complete Background Check VS. Criminal Only Background Check
Employers are finding that a simple criminal background check is no longer sufficient to protect their assets and reputation. Criminal history is only one facet of an applicant's character. For example, Education, Employment, and License verifications check the past for appropriate skills, experience, and workplace behaviors.

In reality few prospective employees have criminal records relevant to the position for which they are being considered. On the other hand issues are regularly uncovered when conducting Education, Employment, and License verifications.

It is recommended that employers conduct at least the following basic searches for all staff plus additional searches based on the particular needs of the employer and the position being filled. Basic searches include:
Comprehensive Background Checks
How Are Employers Being More Thorough In Their Background Checks?

Personalized Background Check VS. One-Size-Fits-All Background Check
Fixed packages may seem ideal, however in reality they usually mean that the employer pays for searches that are not needed or worse still does not get the searches needed.

The best employment screening services help employers determine the searches to include in their background checks. They tailor their services to meet an employer’s needs and budget.

How To Do A Comprehensive Background Check

Full Service Customer Assistance VS. You-Are-On-Your-Own
Step-by-step guides to getting started, suggested policies, suggested forms, knowledgeable customer service agents that can actually be reached on the phone, and recommendations for each search type are available from full service background check companies to help employers get the right background check for their unique situations.

Also, full service background check companies are willing to do the data entry for background check orders (usually at not charge) and will adjust each background check based upon the data uncovered during the research.

Outstanding Customer Service Is Our Specialty

Up front Disclosure VS. Hidden Gotchas
Quality background check companies are up front about their prices, provide detailed information about each search type including realistic time frames, recommendations, sample reports and they publish their Privacy and Data Security polices.

Employment Background Check Products and Services
Privacy and Security Policies

Timely Service VS. Unrealistic Claims and/or Slow Service
The better background check companies explain up front that a quality background check requires checking records with record holders (such as courts, employers, educational institutions, licensing agencies, etc) to verify the information provided by the applicant and that most record checks are finished within two or three business days. They will also explain that a few record holders can be difficult to contact and/or are slow to respond, slowing the final report.

How Long Does A Background Check Take For A Job?

Help With Compliance Issues VS. " Good Luck"
While a background check company is not a law firm and cannot give legal advice, the company can provide helps. The best background check services provide suggested forms, informative articles and regularly update their clients on legal and regulatory changes and developments. They can provide references to professionals who can help with detailed HR and Legal advice.

Employment Background Check Knowledge Index
Employment Background Check Blog

Internal Check and Double Check VS. Quick & Dirty & Cheap
Unfortunately the way to offer cheap background checks is to save money by cutting corners in internal processes and by cutting support staff. The best background check companies take a different approach. Their customer service representatives check and double check information received from clients, the information received from applicants, and the information received from researchers each step of the background check process. While they cannot guarantee that there will never be an error, they do eliminate most problems before the errors get into a report.

Our Customer Service Is Designed To Help Employers Obtain Quality Background Checks

Follow Up on Verifications VS. A Few Calls and We Are Done
Some companies consider an employment, education or license verification complete after they have made a couple of phone calls. If no contact is made they may just close the order and not tell the employer that no contact was actually made. While no company can make unlimited contact attempts, the better companies will disclose how many contact attempts they will make and inform the employer if they have been unable to make contact. The best companies will also attempt contact via alternate methods such as mail, fax and email if phone contact has failed.

It is occasionally difficult to obtain responses from an employer, educational institution, or licensing agency. The extra effort the best companies make to complete a verification can make a big difference, especially when understood that occasionally the reason for the difficulty in obtaining a response is because there is something “fishy” about the applicant or the employer, institution or agency.

International Coverage VS. Only Local/Regional Coverage
The best background check services have developed relationships with trusted researchers nationally and internationally and can assist employers with both domestic and international background checks.

For example see
International Criminal History Records Search
International Education Verification
International Employment Verification
International Driving Record Search

US Based Processing VS. Offshore Processing
Some countries have extremely strong data and privacy protection laws, such as the European Union (EU) states. However, many places information is sent by some background check companies for off-shore processing have very little if any practical data protection. These countries are selected because they offer a way to cut costs. In some countries, for example, private data can be purchased very cheaply. In addition, as a practical matter, American job applicants have no ability to enforce their privacy rights overseas. The lack of any meaningful protection once U.S. data is sent off-shore is a major gap in the effort to combat identity theft and to protect privacy. Responsible background screening companies subscribe to the standards of ConcernedCRAs regarding the off shoring of sensitive personal information.

ConcernedCRAs: No-Offshore Data

Background checks are one area where the old sayings "Buyer Beware" and "You Get What You Pay For" certainly apply. Employment background checks are an important investment for any employer. Prudent employers will carefully consider who they trust to help them with this critical business function.

The Author
Glenn Hammer, founder of A Matter of Fact, a California-based employment background check firm. A Matter of Fact was founded in 1994 and was a founding member of The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). A Matter of Fact is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and subscribes to the standards of ConcernedCRAs regarding the off shoring of sensitive personal information and the responsible use of criminal databases. See www.amof.info.

A Matter of Fact Employment Background Checks is a BBB Accredited Business. Click for the BBB Business Review of this Employment & Background Screening service in Colfax CA   Founding Member of National Association of Professional Background Screeners   www.ConcernedCRAs.com
Note: This information is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.