Facts About Background Checks

BK check.jpgLinda Kinter, Pre-employment Screening Services 

Since the beginning of 2013, there has been a resurgence of interest in background checks. Recently, background checks have taken center stage in the debate over immigration reform as one of several steps undocumented immigrants must complete on the pathway to citizenship. Before that, the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, prompted calls for background checks in the political clash over gun control. You may have also heard that the EEOC revised its guidance on employers’ use of arrest and conviction information, and that state laws can also be restrictive.

Background checks are well established as an effective tool for a variety of uses. A background check is the process of researching and compiling data from private and public sources for purposes of employment and volunteer screening, gun purchases, and tenant rental agreements.

Employment background checks are routinely requested by employers for potential new hires and existing employees, particularly for positions where employees may work with vulnerable populations or have access to consumers’ financial information. Employers rely upon background screens to make informed hiring decisions and to mitigate the risk of workplace violence, employee theft, and negligent hiring lawsuits. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) reports that employee theft accounts for as much as 48 percent of a retail company’s shrinkage, which amounts to nearly two percent of annual revenues.

Background checks performed for pre-employment or employment purposes are generally conducted by a consumer reporting agency (CRA) and are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state and local laws. MSEC is continually scanning both state and federal law to make certain that it is following the law when performing background checks for members. We also advise members on the appropriate use of background screening.

Checks can contain information from a variety of resources and may include:

• Criminal and civil record checks at county courthouses, state repositories, federal courts or international courts;

• Driving records checks;

• Drug testing;

• Verification of employment, education, professional licensure;

• Professional and personal reference checks;

• Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals List (SDNL);

• Patriot Act searches (terrorist watch lists);

• Office of Inspector General (OIG) healthcare sanctions list;

• Sex Offender Registry checks

Employers use the information gathered to help them assess the suitability of candidates vying for employment. Companies that have implemented a quality screening program have a safer, more secure work environment for customers and co-workers because they know who they are hiring; and they tend to attract higher quality candidates and employees who can consistently satisfy the requirements of that screening program.​

For more information, call 800.884.1328 or email pes@msec.org.