This Week In Background Checks: 8/25

We’re happy to provide this week’s TWIB Notes as you head into your Labor Day Weekend.  In case you missed our various blog posts and employeescreen University news and notes, here’s a recap of the highlights:

Newsworthy Items

Court Closures

Legislative Update

That’s all I’ve got!  Have a great long, happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

Listen to the TWIB Podcast below:

9/1/2008 Labor Day

Labor Day

All U.S. courts will be closed on Monday, September 1st in observance of Labor Day. Expect a 24 hour delay in all requests leading up to the holiday weekend.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

More Fallout from Diploma Mill Bust: Regis University

Poor Regis University; the institution itself, its faculty and its students.  By now millions of people across the country and the world have learned about the diploma mill in upstate Washington who sold false degrees from the bogus institution of “St. Regis University”.  Well, one could understand how Regis University and St. Regis University might get confused for one another. Unfortunately, the legitimate academic institution, REGIS UNIVERSITY is taking an unfortunate hit.

Earlier today, we posted another story about this St. Regis University diploma mill and we received a comment from the president of REGIS UNIVERSITY in Denver, Colorado, Reverend Michael J. Sheeran.  He wrote:

“As the President of Regis University in Denver, Colorado, I am especially aware of the damage done by degree mills like St. Regis, which has injured the reputation of my school. Founded in 1877, the real Regis has 15,000 students seeking legitimate degrees at our American campuses and online.

In contrast, St. Regis was a fraud masquerading as a legitimate school. It is important that potential students, regulators, and employers differentiate between the legitimate institutions of higher learning and the criminals who cheat the public by using names that trade on the good reputation of real schools.”

In light of this message, we thought we might help the good people at Regis University spread the word.  If you are a prospective employer who receives a resume from someone that claims to have graduated from Regis University, don’t automatically assume that the applicant is lying.

Of course, you should still remember to conduct an Education Verification.

8/28/2008 Court Delays in Louisiana Parishes

Louisiana Court Closures

August 28, 2008

Due to anticipated inclement weather caused by Hurricane Gustav the following parishes in the state of Louisiana have notified us that they will be closed on Friday, August 29, 2008: Jefferson, Plaquemines, Saint Bernard, Saint Charles, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Tammany, and Orleans.

All requests in these parishes will be delayed until the courts reopen. We’ll keep you posted on the developments.

Update September 2, 2008

Many courts across the state of Louisiana, especially those is the southern portion of the state will be closed until at least Thursday due to flooding and power outages caused by the storm. We’ll continue to keep you posted as we receive updates.

Update September 4, 2008

We have just received word that the following Louisiana Courthouses will be reopened today: Bossier, Catto, Calcasien and Cameron. More courts should be reopening on Friday. We’ll keep you posted.

Bogus Diploma Mill Bust Nets Almost 10,000 Buyers

There are almost 10,000 job seekers out there using fake diploma’s from this one operation.  We have written about diploma mills before, there are hundreds if not thousands of them.  Conducting a thorough background check will identify if your applicant’s education is on a diploma mill list.  Just last week, employeescreenIQ uncovered several unaccredited universities for our clients.  A nice justification for the cost of a thorough employment background investigation!

Bogus Diploma Mill Bust Nets Almost 10,000 Buyers

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

(MCT) CHICAGO—The network of bogus universities was a family-run venture based in rural Washington state, but the criminal enterprise spanned the globe, with operators allegedly paying bribes to Liberian officials and selling fake Ph.D.s and M.D.s as far away as Iran.

They were arrested by state and federal officials with the help of a physics professor.

George Gollin, professor of physics and Fermilab physicist at Illinois, helped unravel the scheme that has resulted in eight guilty pleas this year.

The investigation could spark further charges against hundreds of people who may have bought and used bogus diplomas.

Dubbed “Operation Gold Seal” by federal investigators, the case exploded into the national news with the publication of the names of some 9,600 possible buyers of junk degrees from the phony “St. Regis University” and at least 120 affiliated institutions operated by Dixie and Steven K. Randock Sr.

Claims to advanced degrees from diploma mills and other unaccredited schools are burgeoning, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year as state and federal employees use phony credentials to bump up their salaries, Gollin said.

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Great Article on Background Checks for Contractors

Those of you that follow our blog know that we have recently spent some time discussing who is responsible for conducting background checks on contracted employees.   In fact, we thought it was such an important topic, we included it in our Top Background Screening Trends for 2009.  Often times, organizations that hire contractors either forget to inquire about the contractor’s background screening procedures or they just assume that they do so and then further assume that they utilize the same screening criteria?.

Today, I found an interested blog post on The Vendor Management Office Blog which caters to procurement professionals.  The post, Contractors Gone Bad, Who’s Responsible for Screening/Vetting?, authored by Steven R. Guth, Esq., addresses this very topic from the standpoint of a purchasing agent.  See below.

At a prior employer, my procurement organization experienced a dramatic year-over-year increase in the number of staff aug contractors sourced.  In just a couple of years, we went from sourcing around 10 or so staff aug types to almost 200 per year.  Accordingly, we expanded our supplier base of professional services firms and implemented processes and automation to deal with the increased workload.  However, as our requirement for staff aug contractors increased, we began to see a decrease in the “quality” of the contractors and an increase in problems with contracted staff.

In one case, we engaged what appeared to be a very talented contractor with a correspondingly stratospheric hourly rate, but who had an unusual quirk: he didn’t drive.  We didn’t think too much about his quirk and things seemed to be going smoothly.  Until he showed up on the job intoxicated.  For the second time.  The project manager in charge of the contractor tried to work through the first incident with the contractor, but then wisely decided to raise the second incident to my level.  Needless to say, the contractor was gone that same day.

There were other situations where we discovered “flaws” in contractors after they came onsite, but nothing nearly as dramatic as the incident I described here.  We didn’t seem to have this problem with professional services companies where the contracted staff were employees of those companies, but only with staff aug companies (what I coined as “people mills”).

The question that arose from this was: who had the responsibility for screening / vetting the contractors?

View the full post here . . .

Social Networking Sites: Be Careful Who You Befriend?

Should job applicants be worried about what their friends on MySpace, Facebook, or LinkedIn may say about them to potential employers? If they are applying to the company the gentleman referenced in this article works for, then maybe. But is it a good practice for this guy to be secretly contacting his candidates’ friends on these sites to get the dirt on them? Absolutely not! If you are an avid reader of our blog, you know the reasons why. But if you are new to our site or just want a refresher course on why using social networking sites to vett your potential employees is a bad idea, click here for our in depth coverage of this topic.

Applying For A Job? Clean Yourself Up On Facebook

Forget the resume. Background checks are going cyber. Chances are your potential employer is logging on to Facebook to check you out. And that means you may want to look carefully at who your friends are.

More and more companies and recruiters are using social networking sites like Facebook or Linked In to check out applicants and to talk to their list of contacts and friends.

Tiana Barci is looking for a job right now. She had no idea companies could be looking at her Facebook page and her messages to friends.

“I wouldn’t want someone I was trying to get a job with asking these random strangers things about me they might just make something up and then that looks bad on me and then I lose basically, ” says Barci.

Employers will often look at your top ten results on Google. And from Google, you can find people with a Facebook or a Linked In profile. That’s what Gabe Bodner does. He’s a mortgage broker for a South Bay company.

“I’ll typically just type in somebody’s name, a candidate’s name into Google and see if there’s anything that pops up,” says Bodner.

Bodner has never contacted an applicant’s friends on Facebook or Linked In, but he won’t rule out doing it.

More

Dedham to do Background Checks

DEDHAM – Following the June arrest of a Department of Parks and Recreation employee, the town is implementing a new policy requiring that all prospective employees undergo criminal background checks.

The arrest of seasonal maintenance worker William Luciano, 38, of 2 Taft St., Walpole, revealed to acting Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stanley that the department had not been uniformly requesting the criminal records of all employees.

Although the town had an informal policy of running background checks, after the arrest and Stanley’s investigation, Town Administrator William Keegan drafted a formal written policy, which the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved during a meeting Thursday.

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Background Checks aren’t Foolproof

I was going to post this article sans the comments.  I can’t hold back….I don’t agree with many of the statements here, notably:

“Personally, I feel everything is being done to keep our children safe,” Velkoff said.

Again, you can do background checks or you can do background checks properly.  I humbly submit my series Employment Screening 101 to the Fairfax county Public Schools.

Background Checks aren’t Foolproof

By Layla Wilder
Source: Fairfax County Times

As children return to school after a year when several Fairfax County Public Schools staff were arrested, those in charge of the school system’s hiring say they are doing everything possible to keep criminals away from students.

An unusually high number of school employees were arrested during the 2007-2008 school year, said Kevin North, head of the school system’s Human Resources Department.

As the 2008-2009 school year begins, the schools’ hiring staff will continue with its stringent approach to screening applicants, North said. Last year’s statistics proved that approach hasn’t always been successful, according to notifications from the county’s police.

Leonard Marsh, an assistant principal at Cub Run Elementary School, was arrested Oct. 30, 2007, for growing marijuana. Police arrested Marsh and his wife, Jinny, after narcotics detectives executed a search warrant at the Marshes’ home and found marijuana in packages and growing in a closet.

In May 2008, Rachel Smith, a teacher at the Chantilly Academy, was arrested and charged with possessing methamphetamine.

Thyra Eller-Cox, 42, was an administrative assistant at Greenbriar West Elementary School when she was arrested and charged with two counts of embezzlement in December 2007. She allegedly deposited school money into a personal bank account, police said.

Ted Velkoff, president of Chantilly High School’s PTSA, said the topic has been discussed at the group’s meetings. Administrators assure parents that everything is being done to hire quality staff.

“Personally, I feel everything is being done to keep our children safe,” Velkoff said.

Allan Barbee, a former investigator specialist for the county school system, said in November 2007 that about 5 percent of people applying for county school jobs have a prior criminal record.

They are required to undergo background checks from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the state police and the Virginia Department of Social Services.

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employeescreen University Update: Free Background Screening Info

As you may know, in March we successfully launched employeescreen University, a first of its kind interactive, educational Web site for security, risk management and human resource professionals that features regularly updated, free background-screening information; all aimed to help hiring managers make better hiring decisions. The reaction from the marketplace has been overwhelmingly positive and we have evolved the content based on the responses we receive from our visitors.

Some of the new features added since the launch include:

Guest Articles Section– A unique point of view about background checks and, or other related topics from industry insiders and experts. Sample of Guest Contributors includes:

employeescreenIQ Podcast Channel– Interviews with relevant hiring professional experts and content specific programming from employeescreenIQ associates. Sample of Podcasts already conducted includes:

Resources Page for FCRA and Other Important Links

Court Delays Update Page

Announcements Section

In the coming months we plan to include additional social networking tools, introduce new videos, and conduct best practice webinars both live and recorded and much, much more.

If you haven’t yet visited the site, please check out what you’ve been missing at http://university.employeescreen.com. We also invite all visitors to offer feedback. What did you like? What didn’t you like? What topics would you like to see more of? Etc.