Identifiers Make or Break an Effective Background Check

A recent press release by the Department of Homeland Security substantiates my assertion that an effective background check cannot be executed without proper identifiers.  This release announces DHS’ plans to perform a name only background check on 400,000 US port workers in an effort to weed out potential terrorists.  They point blank concede that the name only search will not reveal a detailed criminal history on employees.  It will simply cross reference the names of these employees against known terrorist watch lists.

A relatively new trend among employers is their desire not to provide their applicant’s date of birth on the applicant consent forms used to conduct background checks.  Yes, employers must ensure not to ask for date of birth on a job application or factor age into a hiring decision.  However, it is entirely permissible to have the applicant include this vital information on the release.  Without a DOB, the employer has already tainted the information that can be found or reported. 

CRA’s are obliged to report criminal convictions only when there are sufficient identifiers to substantiate that the subject of the investigation is the actual offender.  The first step is to match the name.  What used to be the next step, but is widely now being withheld is the Social Security Number.  The next best identifier to the SSN match is the DOB.  If you don’t have it, and the conviction cannot be authenticated, I cannot and should not be reported.  Further limiting those searches without the DOB is the fact that many court systems now require it in order to extract any information. 

In summation, most employers do not have the worry that they are hiring terrorists.  They conduct background checks to limit risk in the workplace.  Failure to provide the requisite identifiers will taint any process to do so.

Salvation Army Gets Burned by Convicted Felon

If there is one thing that we as pre-employment screeners try to stress to our clients and potential clients, it is that no one is immune to internal employee theft.  Whether at the highest levels of financial institutions or with a cashier at a local grocery store, U.S. businesses are getting robbed blind by their own employees.

And nowhere is it more disgraceful when it happens to a charitable organization as depicted in a recent article published in the Honolulu Advertiser, Felon’s Past Wasn’t Checked.  The article details how a Salvation Army employee bilked the organization for $150,000 by diverting donation money to his own personal bank account. 

Unfortunately, this incident could have been avoided if the Salvation Army conducted criminal background checks on employees with access to significant amounts of money.  It turns out that this employee had at least one major felony conviction for stealing $2.2 million from an elderly couple in Colorado.  Had a cursory criminal background check been conducted, this record would have been found and the employer might have made a different hiring decision.

I know.  It’s easy for us to suggest this practice without considering the financial impact on the charity.  But consider that if this happened with one Salvation Army office in Hawaii, that this is indeed taking place all over the country.  This is not an isolated incident.  So if you add up $150,000 here and $50,000 there and so on and so forth, that number gets really big.  The cost of developing and implementing an effective screening process for those key employees would be a pittance compared to the aforementioned sum and would reduce the occurrence of such incidents.

What does your organization do to combat these risks?  Let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.

U.S. Military Could Take a Lesson from the Private Sector

An embarrassing article was just published today in the Washington Post revealing that the US Military subcontracted security to private companies that didn’t conduct background checks on their employees.  Even worse, 89 of the subcontractors employees who were assigned to protection details at 46 different military installations had criminal convictions on their records including assaults and other felonies. 

While it should have been the responsibility of the subcontractors to make sure that their employees were thoroughly vetted, it is unconscionable that the military wouldn’t do the same to the subcontractor.  Especially when these contracts were awarded without formal bids. 

In this day and age, it is no longer acceptable to hire individuals without performing some kind of background check.  US businesses don’t need to be convinced.  They’ve caught on and have been utilizing background checks in some format for quite some time.  So how does the military, who is responsible for protecting all of us, overlook such an issue?  I’m sure that there will be answers to come and and plenty of finger pointing to go around.  The bottom line is that this practice must change.