A recent case in Baltimore MD illustrates the importance of screening employees—every employee. An account clerk who worked in the Baltimore County Office of Budget and Finance faces charges related to credit card theft. While unrelated to her job, the charges certainly demonstrate her willingness to use other people’s money to pay for personal expenses.
Her position is one of fiscal responsibility in a public service, taxpayer-funded department. And while it appears that so far, no customer or county funds have been involved, the employee, who has a court history of financial trouble, had been working there while under investigation for credit card theft—until police came to arrest her at her desk.
The employee was hired in December of 2008 to work in the purchasing department, despite a long history of financial and fraudulent misbehavior. She had faced charges for fraud and writing bad checks. She was sued by the state of Maryland and—just months before her hire date—the very same county office for which she was hired.
The recent case involved a person who reported his wallet and credit cards had been stolen. The investigation led to the county employee. She allegedly told investigators she “has major money issues” and is “late on my bills and needs whatever money she can come across.”
What level of trust is being created by the management team of the Baltimore County Office of Budget and Finance? Especially among the people who pay its salaries? Would you hire someone you sued just a few months before? Did they run a pre-employment background and credit check on this person, and hire her anyway? Or was there no check of her civil and criminal history?
This case leaves many unanswered questions, but does perfectly illustrate that knowing who you’re hiring, before you hire, is the best way to protect your business and even your customers from potential losses. Thorough, professional pre-employment credit checks and background checks are an easy way to gain peace of mind. And in the case of Baltimore County, it might have helped them avoid looking completely inept!