A middle-class family in suburban Atlanta recently woke to discover thieves had ransacked their home and taken nearly everything.
Who were the culprits?
Two men that were employed with a cleaning company who had been in the house less than a week prior. It was later determined that these men, who worked for a prestigious and reputable cleaning company had colorful criminal backgrounds of robbery and theft. The two men were on assignment at the home and while one of them did the cleaning, the other cased the house – taking note of valuables and even ways to get around the security system. It was eventually determined that the cleaning company neglected to properly investigate the backgrounds of its employees; and the company was sued for negligence. Stories such as this do not often in without violence; however, this example illustrates the dire importance of thoroughly screening all new employees with a background check.
This is example is surely of the extreme. It is, however, important for all businesses considering hiring someone to take the critical step of performing a background check. It is estimated 30% of all resumes submitted to employers, has some falsified content. This content can vary from exaggerations to outright lies. The most common falsifications are usually located in the education portion of the resume.
Most businesses deal with sensitive information at some level. This may range from handling social security numbers, credit card information, drivers license information and other types of personal information. In order to assure clients and customers that their information is being handled properly, it is the duty of the business owner to take the necessary step in getting a thorough background check on all employees. Personal and professional references are still a good method, however, they should not be relied upon solely. It should be obvious that prospective employees will give names of those who will give a good reference; background checks pick up where references stop – they will give you accurate and in-depth information regarding the candidate.
Background checks are available to cover a wide variety of areas. Drivers license, character references, personal acquaintances, education records, criminal records, court records, credit records and much more. It is also important to note that much of this is public information. In addition, employers should understand that according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, some information cannot be used in conjunction with a background check. Bankruptcies after 10 years and many other types of consumer information that is older than 7 years may not be reported. Criminal background, credit reporting, worker’s compensation claims and character references are just a few among a long list of types of background checks that are widely available. Employers should know the laws in their specific state regarding what information is available for their specific needs.
According to Paul Falcone, author of the book The Hiring and Firing, background checks serve many purposes: to enhance security in the workforce, to reduce turnover, to minimize the occurrence of employee theft and to leave you with the peace of mind that you have made the right decision in the hiring process. As a business owner, it is imperative to know who is working for you and what their background is. Employers should also include notice of the types of background checks performed, in their pre-employment literature. Most employers do not have the time, resources or authority to complete such thorough investigations. In order to gain this peace of mind, it is necessary to hire a background investigation firm.
Several types of firms conduct background checks. They can range from a company who verifies employment history only, to an online data broker to a private investigator. Though background check prices can vary widely depending on need, the average cost of an intermediate investigation seems to be in the $50 range. Business owners should consider this good practice and an inexpensive form of insurance for their company. Skimping on something as vitally important as a background investigation could possibly cost the company much more in the long run.
Free Background Checks
It is only human nature that the word ‘free’ catches our attention. Who doesn’t want free stuff? Employers should be extra careful when dealing with offers for free background investigations. If one searches the Internet for the query “free background checks”, he or she will certainly be bombarded with results. Upon closer examination of these “free” offers, it is apparent that the information you need is not really free at all. Yes, you can find out if a person has any outstanding warrants, any criminal charges but in order to see the details of the findings, you must pay a fee. It is very possible for employers to find the information for themselves. Various types of public records are searchable on the Internet. Another method is to contact the local police or sheriff’s department. Depending on the particular laws of a state and the employer’s needs, much of the information may be acquired for free from one of these agencies. According to privacy advocates, employers should be very cautious of those companies who advertise that they can find out anything about anybody – these companies might not be adhering to the federal laws regarding privacy. It is in the employer’s best interest to know as much about the investigating company’s practices before hiring them.