Archive for the ‘Screening & Background Checks’ Category

Nevada Set to Restrict Employer Use of Credit Checks

Friday, June 7th, 2013

employee screening, background check, credit checkPerhaps as a result of fallout after the Great Recession, Nevada’s governor signed a new law limiting employers’ use of credit checks when making hiring and personnel decisions. The law, which takes effect October 1 2013, prohibits employers to ask any employee or prospective employee to submit a consumer credit report or other credit information as a condition of employment.

Further, employers may not use, refer to or inquire about a consumer credit report of discipline or discriminate against an employee or deny employment or a promotion on the basis of a credit report. Employees who refuse or fail to submit consumer credit reports and those who have file complaints in the past cannot be discharged or disciplined, either.

That’s a very broad prohibition of credit checks, denying employers the right to know whether a prospective employee has a history that could negatively affect the employer’s business.

However, Nevada allows certain exceptions, including:

  • The employer is required or authorized under state or federal law to use a credit report for an accepted purpose.
  • The employer reasonably believes the employee or prospective employee has engaged in a specific activity that may violate a state or federal law.
  • The information contained in the employee’s or prospective employee’s credit report is reasonably related to the position for which he or she is applying or being evaluated for.

“Reasonably related” refers to several categories. Employers may conduct credit checks for employees or prospective employees who:

  • Would be handling or responsibility for money, credit and debit cards and financial accounts.
  • Would have access to trade secrets, proprietary information or confidential information.
  • Are being considered for managerial or supervisory responsibilities.
  • Have access to financial information belonging to others.
  • Would be handling or responsible for personal information of others.
  • Would be directly exercising law enforcement authority.
  • Are being considered for employment with a financial institution or a licensed gaming establishment.

The new law contains remedies of up to $9,000 for each violation, along with lost wages, reinstatement, promotion or employment, depending on plaintiffs’ claims.

Joining California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Connecticut, Colorado, Vermont and Hawaii, Nevada is making it more difficult for employers to use credit checks in personnel decisions, unless the person falls under one of the above categories.

How Do Your Background Checks Measure Up?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

employee screening If you’re one of the responsible employers who protect their businesses, customers and staff by performing employee screening and background checks, you might wonder how your pass/fail rate compares to others.

Statistics are difficult to come by. Professional background screening companies don’t typically release this data. But there are a few interesting numbers that show that no matter what type of business you run, or what type of individual applies for employment with you, the chances are good that most of them will stretch the truth to some extent.

Applicants embellish the truth, sometimes innocently, as when they make up an impressive-sounding title for a previous job. They might get the dates of employment wrong, either by mistake or deliberately. After all, when a job seeker realizes that a six-month stint at a previous job looks better than the actual six weeks he actually worked there, it’s easy to enter the wrong month on a resume.

There are super-honest applicants, too, who lets you know right up front that she has a criminal past—but it happened when she was a teenager. That kind of honesty is great, but each company’s hiring policy will dictate whether or not this type of incident will prevent hiring.

Other misrepresentations are more serious, where an applicant invents a past, including academic credentials and previous positions. Or when they try to cover up the fact that they left their last position because they were caught embezzling funds.

That’s why it pays to take a broad approach when doing background checks. Investigate applicants who make it through the preliminary screening and interview process on the basis of education, employment, criminal history, driving records, and even social media use.

Remember, because of the large numbers of people out there with criminal histories, or who have embellished their backgrounds, the chances are good that you’ll hire someone with the potential to cause personal, legal or financial harm.

That’s why a system of pre-employment screening is so important to employers of all sizes.

Employers Beware: What’s Behind the Name on the Resume?

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

pre employment screening, employee background checkWhen it’s time to hire new employees, many employers go through the same steps, each and every time:

  1. Advertise the job opening.
  2. Wait for applications and resumes to come in.
  3. Interview candidates.
  4. Choose one and hire.

But one important step, pre-employment background checks, is missing. Some employers don’t see the value in performing background checks or credit checks on prospective employees. Some states limit employers’ ability to do so; but in most areas, you are allowed to check a prospective employee’s criminal history. You may be limited in checking credit history, but usually not if the position involves money handling—even states that limit credit checks in employment allow them in this case.

Whether it’s just not part of the company’s practice, or you’re concerned about staying within the letter of the law, it’s a good idea to rethink your hiring strategy and consider doing a thorough employment screening before you hire.

Why Conduct Pre-Employment Screening?
Everyone looks good on paper. Professional-looking applicants who also happen to be thieves, embezzlers and sex offenders can walk through your door at any time. You can’t know what’s behind the name on a resume without checking criminal and credit records.

These days, companies of every size are vulnerable to the theft of sensitive data, funds and company secrets. Employers can be held liable for criminal activities occurring at the workplace, whether they are aware of them or not. They can potentially be held liable for violence or other harm that comes to workers, customers or the public if they hire individuals who are known to be violent.

Screening all potential employees before they are hired can help reduce the chances of financial or other damages to the company, its staff, customers and others. Employee screening is easy and fast, when you use a trusted, professional company like CriminalData.com. Our screening specialists can help you gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re hiring someone you can trust. And when you let the professionals handle your pre-employment credit checks, you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you’re in compliance with federal or state consumer protection laws.

Finding the Right Employee Takes Time

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

employee screening, background checksWhen it comes to adding the right people to your staff, there is no such thing as being too careful. But how do you know you chose well until you actually hire someone and they start working for you?

The interviewing and screening process is your chance to establish expectations, measure skills and abilities, and determine who is the best fit for the job and your company.

Screening starts with careful resume review. Be on the look out for:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Careful attention to grammar and punctuation
  • Large gaps in employment
  • Clear and concise statements

Even font and color choices can tell you a great deal about a candidate. Note also what is left out of a resume. What is he or she not saying? Are the skills and work experience you need mentioned in the list of qualifications, or not? If you need to measure skills through an assessment test, do so before going any further.

If you like what you see, a short screening call can tell you whether to continue to a face-to-face interview. Schedule the call ahead of time. Keep it to just a few minutes. Note whether or not the candidate is on time and prepared to speak with you. Ask candidates about their current positions, if they are currently employed, as well as why they are seeking a new job. Find out what they are looking for, and what sets them apart from others. Pay attention to the level of enthusiasm the person has, his or her ability to express what they do for their current employer, and whether they can sell themselves.

If you choose to continue in the interview process, it becomes more important that the candidate fits your company’s culture. Of course, that has to be well-defined first. But it’s hard to go wrong when you hire a person who is motivated, has a positive attitude, a great work ethic and ability to work well on a team.

Before you offer the position, be sure to run a pre-employment background check. Employee screening can limit your exposure to security breaches and safety issues, while protecting your company and staff from harm.

Finding the right employees leads to much greater productivity, less turnover and lower costs. It’s worth the investment of your time and effort.

Employee Pulls Gun on Customer; KFC Not Liable

Friday, September 28th, 2012

employee screeningThey say “Dog Bites Man” is not news, but “Man Bites Dog” is. In an unusual case in Pennsylvania, a fast-food employee pulled a gun out and pistol-whipped a customer. Why? Because he was taking too long to place his order.

Sad, but true. The customer suffered a concussion and other injuries and, not surprisingly, sued KFC. Among other claims, the customer said KFC was negligent because they had not conducted a background check on the employee, and should have known he had a propensity for violence.

KFC did have a policy in place prohibiting employees from bringing weapons to work, but only conducted employee screening on candidates for management positions. The federal district court in Pennsylvania rejected the customer’s claim and said KFC was not legally required to conduct criminal background checks on front line employees. In addition, a background check would have revealed that the employee did have two convictions for nonviolent crimes on his record—but not that KFC could have known he would bring a gun to work and use it.

While not legally required, conducting background checks on employees is still a sound practice. Putting your business, your customers and staff at risk can leave you liable in certain circumstances. While the owner of this KFC did not have to pay damages to the plaintiff, the story could have had a much more serious ending—and nobody wants to put their customers at risk for their lives.

Federal “Ban the Box” Background Check Prohibition Introduced

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

pre-employment screening, criminal background check, employee screening, credit checkThis summer, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit an employer from inquiring whether an applicant for employment has been convicted of a criminal offense. The federal “Ban the Box Act” allows for two exemptions: when a conditional offer of employment has been made or if granting employment could pose unreasonable safety risks to specific individuals or the general public.

If the bill passes, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) would be required to issue rules and guidelines for employers to follow. They would define the categories in which an applicant’s criminal history would pose such a safety risk, and the factors to consider when making the determination that hiring an individual poses unreasonable risks.

The bill’s sponsor is Representative Hansen Clarke (D-MI), who has said the goal is to curtail recidivism, since individuals with criminal histories who cannot get jobs are more likely to commit additional crimes. Co-sponsors of the bill are John Conyers, Bobby Rush, Charles Rangel, Frederica Wilson and Keith Ellison.

According to GovTrack.us, a website that provides information on pending legislation and members of Congress, the bill is currently is in Committee, awaiting a report. The site’s prognosis is that the bill as a 2% chance of being enacted, mostly because just 4% of all House bills in 2009 – 2010 were enacted.

“The Box” refers to the area on an employment application where applicants are required to check a box if they have been convicted of a crime. Many states and municipalities across the U.S. have enacted such bans for themselves and employers of certain sizes. Some prohibit criminal background checks and employment screening until a conditional employment offer has been issued. Others allow criminal history checks if a conviction is related to the position.

Employers should check the laws in their localities, and utilize only a professional, trusted background check provider such as CriminalData.com.

Pre-Hire Personality Tests are on the Rise

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

employment screening, pre-employment, background checkSome employers are requiring employment candidates or new hires to complete personality and ability assessment tests—and the trend seems to be on the rise.

Pre-screening potential employees for their personality traits—along with their credit histories and backgrounds—is gaining popularity, as employers ramp up for hiring in an economy that still requires keeping costs down. Few firms can afford to invest in hiring and training new employees, only to have them not work out. They may want to be sure they’re hiring someone with the particular traits they need, or to avoid those traits that could mean a bad hire.

Hiring the right person with the right personality and abilities reduces turnover and the associated costs, which are estimated to be up to one year’s salary for certain professional positions.

Some employers wait until they’ve hired an employee to conduct the test, so they can match them to the tasks they’re well suited for. Others use them to screen candidates before hiring. They don’t move forward with the interviewing process unless an applicant has achieved a minimum test score.

Personality and ability tests benefit employees, too. They can reveal strengths, weaknesses and preferences they might not have known they had. For example, an applicant who is not well suited to customer service tasks likely fail in that position. Or a new employee may discover that they do their job better when they have sufficient planning time. Making that part of their workday can help them succeed.

Personality and ability assessments can improve how employees work together, as well. Sharing results, such as “Bill is communicator,” “Jane is a problem solver,” or “Michelle is a planner” can help everyone adjust their work style make things work more smoothly.

When hiring new employees, be sure to conduct proper background screening. The best pre-employment screening process includes employee background checks, employee credit checks, and criminal background checks. You’ll know you’re hiring safe when you screen employees before offering a position.

Be on Alert for Phony Drivers Licenses

Friday, July 20th, 2012

background screening, employee credit checkWhat if that new employee you just hired is not who he or she said she was? Or if a long-term employee is found to be an imposter? Every day, all across the country, employees are hired with fake drivers licenses. In some cases, employers knowingly hire illegal immigrants or other individuals with phony identification, but in most cases, the employer doesn’t know until something bad happens.

Employers are required to complete a federal form (the I-9 form) and obtain two types of identification from new employees. Most often, they receive a drivers license and Social Security Card. Employers can call the Social Security Administration to verify a Social Security Number, but will only be told whether the card is valid and the name and SSN match. There is no way for an employer to know if the card or identity is stolen.

Some employees are using phony drivers licenses or other identification to establish identity for a new job. Fake IDs are a big business. Dozens of online sources brag that they can help you establish a new identity, with a “real government-issued ID under another identity.” And the news is full of state Department of Motor Vehicle employees being arrested for providing licenses to ineligible citizens.

Employers can partner with local police to learn how to spot fake identification, and about the latest trends in ID forgery.

Fake identification is a real problem. But increasingly, criminals and others with something to hide are obtaining real drivers licenses with fake names.

In Minnesota, the Homeland Security Department is investigating 10,000 cases of possible fraud. 18 people were recently arrested and several have been indicted. One woman with a legitimate drivers license under a false name obtained a U.S. passport as well. She also once worked for the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, again under the false name.

When Homeland Security gets involved, you know it’s serious. Hopefully, federal and state government agencies will help employers safeguard against individuals who apply for jobs using real, state-issued identification. They could be hiding criminal records, or other incidents in their pasts that expose employers to liability and potential danger.

When hiring new employees, it’s imperative to conduct a thorough background check, credit check and employment verification through a trusted pre-employment screening service. Be alert, learn what to look for in phony identification, and always verify an applicant’s information.

State Budget Cuts May Lead to Increase in Ex-Convicts Applying for Jobs

Friday, May 4th, 2012

employee screening, employee credit checkAcross the U.S., the economic downturn has been negatively affecting state and local law enforcement budgets. Police and sheriff’s departments have cut staff; jails are laying off guards and prisons are releasing prisoners early because of overcrowding.

For employers who are hiring workers, an increase in ex-convicts in the local population could mean a different type of job applicant. Perhaps this is a good time to review criminal background check procedures.

A variety of state laws make it difficult for regional and national employers to stay compliant, but smaller businesses need to be concerned only with their local and state laws, as well as Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, before deciding what is appropriate for their situation.

The EEOC’s concern is that criminal background checks have a disparate effect on minorities’ hiring history. According to the EEOC, studies show that “some employers make selection decisions based on names, arrest and conviction records…all of which may disparately impact people of color.”

The important thing is that employers are vigilant about doing pre-employment screening and background checks, and to conduct them fairly, as a higher number of unemployed, former convicted criminals are presumably looking for work. Establishing a justifiable business need is the first step. Obtaining applicants’ approval, per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, prior to conducting employee credit checks is also vital to staying within the letter of the law.

Balance your need to keep your other employees, customers and business safe from harm with the rights of your applicants, and exercise good judgment. Remember, 36 states hold employers liable for the negligent hiring of individuals with violent backgrounds.

You can be assured of compliance when you use a reputable, professional employee screening company, such as CriminalData.com. Our extensive experience, secure processes and excellent reputation for professional service mean you may screen prospective employees with confidence.

Employee Theft Hits Retailers Hard

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

employee background check, pre-employment screening, criminal background checkNationwide, retailers are feeling the pain of big losses due to theft—and it’s not all from shoplifters. More losses occur due to their own employees than to shoplifters, or even organized crime, according to a recent report.

The National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) revealed that in 2010, shoplifting and organized retail crime accounted for about 31% of inventory shrinkage, while thefts by employees made up a whopping 45% of losses. Another 14% of shrinkage was due to administrative error, while vendor fraud was 4% of the total.

News reports are full of employees stealing clothing, perfume, cosmetics, athletic shoes, housewares and sporting goods, and selling it on eBay, Craig’s list and other websites. In other cases, office employees with access to cash are often charged with embezzlement, or cashiers are accused of loading store debit and credit cards with cash amounts.

According to the NRSS survey, about half of gift card losses were due to dishonest employees in 2010. And it seems employees are working together to rip off their employers: the report states about 18% of internal theft cases involved collusion. Some collaborate to ring up purchases for less than the regular price, then return the merchandise later, pocketing the full amount in cash.

With sophisticated cameras and anti-theft devices, how can employees get away with stealing so much inventory from retailers? The answer is not an easy one. Each time new technology is developed, it seems, someone finds a way to circumvent it.

Loss prevention experts say employee theft is all about “opportunity.” Controlling opportunities helps cut down employee theft. Setting standards, using controls and watching employees who are suspected of wrongdoing are all important.

With the average employee theft case totaling $996, compared to shoplifting cases averaging $337, retailers have the incentive to prevent employee theft whenever possible. One way to help protect any business from employee theft is to know the background and criminal history on each new hire, by conducting thorough background checks and pre-employment screening!