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Employment Background Check Articles
The following background check related articles and resources may be of interest to employers seeking information about background checks and employment screening.
How to Do a Background Check

Flawed Employment Background Check Procedures Highlighted by Recent Legal Actions

Employment Background Check Blog
Points of Interest:
Faulty policies and procedures fall into three general categories:
  • Failure to Conduct Background Checks that “Fit” the Job.
  • Sloppy Criminal Record Checks.
  • Failure to Comply with the Law, especially the FCRA.

Criminal Background: Consider the Risks--And Rewards--Of Hiring Ex-Offenders

HR Magazine
Points of Interest:
  • Anecdotes about hiring ex-offenders often conclude with straightforward notes of inspiration and mutual value.
  • Some believe employers should consider treating the employment of ex-offenders as a talent matter.
  • Employers must consider the potentially thorny legal issues involved in hiring ex-offenders. The keys to making a good hire are to closely monitor equal employment opportunities and a range of relevant state laws, check with legal experts when necessary, and put in place carefully considered policies.
  • Research in New York state indicates that while ex-offenders have a relatively high rate of recidivism in the first five years following arrest, ex-offenders who do not get arrested during those first five years are about as likely to commit a crime as someone in the general population.

Beyond Pre-Hire Background Checks: Post-Hire Screens Become the Norm

SHRM Staffing Management Library
Point of Interest:
  • Since things can change so quickly, many employers are realizing that post-hire employee background screening should be conducted at regular intervals for certain job categories or employment situations in order to mitigate business risk.

Criminal Background Checks: A Checklist of the Pros and Cons

SHRM Information Center
Points of Interest:
  • There are significant rewards to doing Criminal Background Checks.
  • There are significant limitations and restrictions employers need to be aware of when conducting Criminal Background Checks

Also see Knowledge Index: How to Do a Background Check, Background Check Laws & Regulations and Employment Background Check Guidelines and Sample Policies from Industry Sources
Pros & Cons of Background Checks

ACFE: 2014 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)
Points of Interest:
  • The typical organization loses 5% of its annual revenue to occupational fraud.
  • The median loss caused by the occupational fraud cases in the study was $145,000. More than one-fifth of the cases caused losses of at least $1 million.
  • Occupational fraud is a significant threat to small businesses. The smallest organizations tend suffer disproportionately large losses.
  • Over half of victim organizations had not recovered any losses that they suffered due to fraud.
  • In 92% of cases, the fraudster displayed one or more behavioral red flags that are often associated with fraudulent conduct. Living beyond means, financial difficulties, unusually close association with vendors or customers and control issues (unwillingness to share duties) were the most commonly observed behavioral warning signs.
  • Fraud Prevention Checklist: Does the hiring policy include the following (as allowed by law)?
    • Past employment verification
    • Criminal and civil background checks
    • Credit checks
    • Drug screening
    • Education verification
    • Reference checks

WorkPlace Violence

U.S. Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
Points of Interest:
  • Workplace Violence preventive practices include pre-employment screening, identifying problem situations and risk factors, and security preparations.
  • Identifying and screening out potentially violent people before hiring is an obvious means of preventing workplace violence.
  • As an applicant is examined, the following can raise a flag:
    • A history of drug or alcohol abuse.
    • Past conflicts (especially if violence was involved) with co-workers.
    • Past convictions for violent crimes.
    • Other flags can include a defensive, hostile attitude; a history of frequent job changes; and a tendency to blame others for problems.

Dealing with Violence in the Workplace

Points of Interest:
  • The SHRM Workplace Violence Survey, published in 2012, found that over one-third (36 percent) of organizations reported incidents of workplace violence.
  • Acts of violence in the workplace can result in myriad legal actions against employers.
  • Billions of dollars are lost each year in time, productivity, litigation and added security measures as a direct result of violence at work.
  • Employers can investigate a job applicant’s work experience, character, criminal history and other relevant data prior to hiring to help protect employees and others from workplace violence.

Crime Characteristics: Summary Findings

Bureau of Justice Statistics
Points of Interest:
  • Workplace violence accounted for 18 percent of all violent crime.
  • Victims of workplace violence identified intimates as the perpetrator in about 1 percent of all violent workplace crimes. About 40 percent of the victims of nonfatal violence in the workplace reported that they knew their offenders.
  • Of victims of violent crime, 22 percent were involved in some form of leisure activity away from home at the time of their victimization, 22 percent said they were at home, and another 20 percent mentioned they were at work or traveling to or from work when the crime occurred.
  • While working or on duty, U.S. residents experienced 1.7 million violent victimizations annually from 1993 to 1999, including 1.3 million simple assaults, 325,000 aggravated assaults, 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults, 70,000 robberies, and 900 homicides.
  • In every year from 1992 to 2002, students ages 12-18 were more likely to experience a serious violent crime away from school than at school.

Right Management Survey

Right Management
Impact of a Bad Hire, Press Release
Key Points:
  • Lower employee morale and decreased productivity are the biggest negative consequences.
  • Other negative consequences include: lost customers and market share, and higher training, recruitment, and severance costs.
  • The average cost of a bad hire is 2.5 times the employee’s salary. 42% of survey respondents said the cost of a bad hire is at least 3 times the employee’s salary.

The ROI of Background Screening

HR Management
View artile at HCI.org (login required).
Points of Interest:
  • The net annual Return On Investment for background screening is over 900%. There are scarce few business expenses that can generate the type of ROI that background screening can.
  • According to the US Small Business Administration, for every dollar an employer invests in employment screening, the return on investment ranges from $5-16, resulting from improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, lower turnover – and decreased employer liability.
  • The Saratoga Institute estimates the cost of turnover at 150% of annual compensation for salaried workers.
  • Dr. Bradford Smart suggests that the cost for senior executive turnover is as high as 2,400% in his book Topgrading.
  • The United States Department of Commerce reports that 30% of all business failures result from theft or embezzlement.

Do You Really Know Your Contractors? The Hard Evidence for Contractor Screening and Employment Background Check Searches

HRM Guide
Points of Interest:
  • Contractors are the Achilles heel of a company's supply chain and pose the greatest risk because they have the least oversight.
  • In a series of landmark decisions, the US court system has held that hiring companies are accountable for actions of employees, contractors, vendors, and suppliers.
  • Background checks should be run on all contractors.
  • Perform a criminal and employment background check, credential and/or license verification, immigration status (if applicable), and, for jobs with considerable money responsibilities, a credit history report on every employee that will be dealing with your assets.

The Case for Background Checks

Insurance & Technology
Point of Interest:
  • Thirty percent of insiders who launch system attacks have criminal records.

Do A Thorough Background Check On Workers -- Or Let The Hirer Beware

Points of Interest:
  • About one-third of resumes have some degree of puffery.
  • Two-thirds of all job applicants say they have stretched the truth at least once in an effort to land a job.
  • Bogus college degrees or scholastic honors, or distorted majors and minors are common distortions.
  • Require all applicants to fill out a formal job application.
  • Look carefully at all documents. Compare an applicant's resume to the job application for discrepancies.

Driving the bottom line: Improving Retention

Saratoga Human Resources Services
PwC Publication
Point of Interest:
  • Turnover-related costs represented more than 12% of pre-tax income for the average company. At the 75th percentile, turnover costs are equivalent to nearly 40% of earnings.

Pre-Employment Screening Gaining Favor

Phoenix Business Journal
Points of Interest:
  • Pre-employment screenings are seen as the first step in battling lost productivity or turnover as the result of employees who were hired based on training or experience they claimed to have, but just didn't
  • Business owners also can use the background checks to reduce the risk of hiring an employee who has a propensity for physically harming a customer or another employee.

Avoid Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Point of Interest:
  • The average jury award against employers in sexual harassment lawsuits is about $250,000.

Background Screening – Past, Present and Future

NAPBS, National Association of Professional Background Screeners
Quotes of Interest:
  • "Organizations owe it to themselves and to everyone with whom they come into contact to know everything they can about their employees and volunteers, and the most effective method to accomplish this is by conducting thorough background checks."
  • "Making background checking a part of an organization’s culture can not only enhance its effectiveness (e.g., through greater productivity and retention), but also its reputation."
  • "Background checking can supplant an organization’s loss prevention efforts by helping provide a safer environment for employees, volunteers, and others."
  • "The most common reason among employers for not conducting background checks is cost. However, the cost of background checks represents a fraction of the cost of: terminating an individual; re-recruiting, re-hiring, and re-training his or her replacement; and defending a lawsuit brought by a victim of a dishonest or violent individual’s actions (which can range in the multi-millions of dollars)."

Not Wanted: Thieves

HR Magazine: Legal Trends
Points of Interest:
  • Employee theft and fraud is pervasive and not well known.
  • Approximately 30% of employees admit to stealing from their employers.
  • Of the perpetrators 41.2% are managers, 39% are employees, and 19.3% are owners or executives.

Cost of Turnover

SHRM Briefly Stated ROI Series
Turnover Costs May Be Categorized Into Four Types:
  • Separation Processing Costs (e.g. exit interviews and administrative overhead)
  • Replacement Hiring Costs (e.g. recruiting and interviewing replacements)
  • Training Costs
  • Lost Productivity (e.g. performance differential as a new hire gets up to speed etc.)

Credit Check for Employment

Reading a Credit Report

Point of Interest:
  • Step by step guide to reading a Credit Report

Glossary of Credit Terms

Point of Interest:
  • Glossary of Credit Terms

Criminal History Background Check

Criminal Background Checks Incomplete:
How convicted felons can slip through safety net

Points of Interest:
  • Spotty participation by the nation's 3,100 county courts, along with a hodgepodge of data formats, make national crime databases vastly incomplete.
  • The national databases have a 41 percent error rate.
  • There is only one way to conduct a thorough criminal background check: combine computer-based nationwide searches with old-fashioned in-person visits to county courthouses that house criminal record information.

Also see above, Criminal Background Checks: A Checklist of the Pros and Cons
Education Verification & "Diploma Mill" Resources

Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

U.S. Department of Education
  • The database is provided as a public service. Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) recommends that the database be used as one source of qualitative information and that additional sources of qualitative information be consulted.

Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations

Council for Higher Education Accreditation
  • The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) database lists more than 7,800 degree-granting and non-degree-granting institutions and more than 20,000 programs that are accredited by United States accrediting organizations that have been recognized either by CHEA or by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or both.

Diploma Mill or Legitimate Educational Institution?

Employment Background Check Blog
Points of Interest:
  • Diploma mills (or degree mills) are substandard or fraudulent "colleges" that offer potential students degrees with little or no serious work.
  • Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, and Texas publish "Diploma Mill" lists.

Executives: Making It by Faking It

Business Week
Click for article
Points of Interest:
  • Sixteen percent of executive resumes contain false academic claims and/or material omissions relating to educational experience.
  • The hiring organization can trust that engaging the services of a professional background-screening consultant will pay off.
  • A thorough background check is an important insurance policy for the recruiting process.

Avoid Fake-Degree Burns By Researching Academic Credentials

Points of Interest:
  • Tell-tale signs of a bogus degree include: out of sequence degrees, quickie degrees, degrees from schools in locations different from the applicant’s job or home, and sound-alike names.
  • Steps to verify academic credentials: contact the school, research the school on the internet, and ask the applicant for proof of the degree and the school’s accreditation.

Employment Drug Screening

Workplace Substance Abuse Statistics Fact Sheet

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
Points of Interest:
  • People with drug and alcohol problems are not likely to leave those problems behind when they come to work.
  • On-the-job drug use can lead to an increased risk of accidents and injuries. It can also lead to lower levels of productivity and employee morale, not only among those with substance abuse problems but also among those working alongside them.
  • Over 7 percent of American workers drink during the workday, mostly at lunch. Even more—9 percent—have nursed a hangover in the workplace.

Workplace Substance Use: Quick Facts to Inform Managers

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
Points of Interest:
  • Regardless of where illicit drug use or heavy alcohol use takes place, workers reporting substance use and abuse have higher rates of turnover and absenteeism.
    • Workers reporting heavy alcohol use or illicit drug use, as well as workers reporting dependence on or abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs, are more likely to have worked for more than three employers in the past year.
    • Workers reporting past-month illicit drug use or dependence on or abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs were more likely to have missed more than two days of work due to illness or injury in the past month.
  • Co-worker job performance and attitudes are negatively affected by fellow employee substance use and abuse.

Drugs in the Workplace: Fact Sheet

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
Points of Interest:
  • 77 percent of illicit drug users in the United States are employed.
  • Problems related to alcohol and drug abuse cost American businesses roughly $81 billion in lost productivity in just one year.
  • Substance-abusing employees function at about 67% of their capacity.
  • Up to 40 percent of industrial fatalities and 47 percent of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol use and alcoholism.
  • Employees who use drugs are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident and 5 times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Implement a drug-free workplace program. Even if your organization is not required to have a drug-free workplace program, your organization can still benefit.

Other Checks & Searches

E-Verify Employer DOs and DON’Ts

U.S. Department of Justice
Points of Interest:
  • E-Verify dos and don'ts for employers.

See Free SSN Validator
Note: The value of tools like this are diminishing due to the new SSA "SSN Randomization" process.
Electronic Signatures

Electronic Records And Signatures In Commerce

Legal Information Institute
Point of Interest:
  • Full text of the law

Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act

Points of Interest:
  • Sections from the ESIGN Act
  • Consumer Disclosure
  • Retention of contracts and records

Miscellaneous Background Check Information

Best Background Check Service: The Inside Story

A Matter of Fact
Points of Interest:
There are significant differences between background checks and background check companies, including:
  • Accredited VS. Non-Accredited Background Check Company
  • Real Criminal Record Checks VS. Criminal Database Checks
  • Complete Background Check VS. Criminal Only Background Check
  • Internal Check and Double Check VS. Quick & Dirty & Cheap
  • US Based Processing VS. Offshore Processing

Identify Reputable Background Check Companies

A Matter of Fact
Points of Interest:
Established industry sources are available to help employers identify reputable background check companies.
  • National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Membership
  • ConcernedCRAs Membership
  • Better Business Bureau Accreditation

10 Ways to Catch a Liar

Point of Interest:
  • Experts share ten tips that can help you know if someone is telling you the whole truth.

California LiveScan, A Real Background Check?

Kit Fremin
Point of Interest:
  • Live Scan Does Not Report All Criminal History. The only records checked are related to child abuse or elder abuse, sex offenders (the sex offender registry is NOT checked), and convictions or incarcerations in the last 10 years as a result of committing theft, robbery burglary or any felony. A partial list of what it does not cover is Assault, Accessory to a crime, Aiding and abetting, Bad check writing, Carrying a gun without a license, Contempt, Domestic Violence, False impersonation, Medicare fraud, Stalking, Drug possession, Indecent exposure, Misdemeanor Prostitution, Lewd conduct, Disorderly conduct, Disturbing the peace, Vandalism, Trespassing, Malicious mischief, Public drunkenness and the list goes on.

Legal Dictionary Search

Point of Interest:
  • Legal Dictionary Search

A Matter of Fact is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice. The information and forms on this site are for educational purposes only and cannot be relied upon as legal advice. It is important that employers work with counsel to develop an employment screening program specific to their needs. Employers should obtain legal advice concerning their legal responsibilities, and to ensure that background check documents, policies and procedures are in compliance with applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations. For more see Legal Disclaimer.

A Matter of Fact has no control over the content of other web sites and is not responsible for their content.

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