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When Background Check Cost is an Issue
What Do We Recommend?

by Glenn and Rose Maree Hammer

Suggested Employer Policies and Procedures to Reduce Time and Cost

  • Request different background checks based on job category, function and risk level (less extensive checks for certain job functions and departments – more extensive checks for others – see sample table below.)

    Sample Background Check Search Policy Table
    Low Risk Departments
    High Risk Departments
    Package A
    Package B
    Professional & Manager
    Package B
    Package C
    Package D
    Package D
    Note: Each employer will need to create their own Package A, B, etc. This table is only given as an example of how background check packages might be created for different job categories. For ideas about how to customize background checks based on need, see Build a Comprehensive Background Check.

  • Use A Matter of Fact's paperless online applicant interface. The interface streamlines workflow and reduces errors. See QuickApp™ - Online Background Check Order Entry and Applicant Interface for more detailed information.

Additional Policies and Procedures Some Employers Use to Reduce Cost

We do NOT recommend any of the following suggestions if you wish to thoroughly check all pertinent records for the period of time permitted by law. Reducing cost by dropping searches until a target budget is reached naturally increases the risk of missed information. For more about the trade-off between cost and risk, see Criminal Checks: Cost versus Risk.

Criminal Record History Research Policies Some Employers Use

  • Only research Full Legal Name(s). Do NOT research Nick Names.
  • Only research EXACT names used at a particular address. (Do NOT research additional possible names found in a SSN Scan that have been used at a particular address.)
  • Only research in the EXACT county/jurisdiction for a given address. (Do NOT research nearby counties/jurisdictions for a given address.)
  • Do NOT research the full seven years permitted by law.
  • Put a specific limit on the number of criminal checks run.
  • Choose cheaper DATABASE searches in lieu of on-site courthouse searches.
    Note: There are databases available that purport to be statewide or nationwide criminal databases. In practice, commercial databases are gathered from different sources, reporting only some jurisdictions, over limited time frames, and cover only limited types of crimes. They cannot be relied upon for accuracy and completeness. Even databases provided by state agencies are notoriously incomplete and out of date. Databases can be a great research tool, but should not be considered a reliable final information source. For more information, see Criminal Database Limitations.
Note: Criminal records are usually indexed and searched alphabetically by name. We recommend that all name and identification variations used by an applicant be researched in all pertinent criminal jurisdictions.

Employment, Educational, and License Verification Policies Some Employers Use

  • Only verify the more recent or more critical employment/educational/license claims.
  • Only verify the highest degree claimed by the individual. (This assumes that if the higher degree is verified then lower degrees are most likely accurate.)
  • Put a specific limit on the number of employers, schools, or licenses checked.
Note: We find a higher rate of discrepancies in employment, educational, and license verifications than in any other aspect of the background checks we run. We feel that by far the best policy is, "If they claim it, check it."

Authors: Glenn and Rose Maree Hammer, founders of A Matter of Fact, a California-based employment background check firm. www.amof.info

Note: This information is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.