NAPBS Mid Year Meeting Wrap-Up

NAPBSlogoNewThis week the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) wrapped up its Annual Mid-Year Meeting and Exposition.  What started several years ago as a way for the Board of Directors and various committees to get together has turned into a full blown conference.

There are some very serious issues our industry is dealing with today.  For starters, Barney Frank (D-Mass) has introduced H.R. 3126 which will create the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).  NAPBS was successful in getting Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA’s) excluded from this agency, however, we have now been put back in.  Being regulated under two agencies (The FTC and CFPA) would severely impact our industry and employers across the US.

Secondly, NAPBS is working hard to launch our Accreditation program in the next six months.  Currently in beta test the program will raise the bar in our industry and show law makers we are serious about doing things properly.  As a former Co-Chairman and current member of the Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) I couldn’t be more excited about the launch.

I had the pleasure of sitting in on many exciting education sessions along with meeting some great people.  NAPBS continues to shine as the premier background screening association!  Looking forward to our annual conference in San Antonio in March 2010.

FTC’s Identity Theft “Red Flag” Mandate Effective November 1, 2009

The FTC’s “Red Flag” mandate to curb identity theft is set to take effect on November 1, 2009, one full year after the original policy was to be enforced. It appears that after many delays, the government is finally ready to take action.
Creditors and Financial Institutions must develop and implement a written Identity Theft Prevention Program.

Further, all employers that conduct background checks are supposed to have a policy in place to handle “Red Flag” Address Discrepancy Notifications from the National Consumer Reporting Agencies (mainly credit bureaus). This rule has been in effect since last November and we are still unclear what such notifications will look like when and if they occur.

For more information on these guidelines and how to comply check out:

Users of Consumer Reports Have New Responsibilities as of November 1
EmployeeScreenIQ Offers Free Webinar on New FTC Guidelines

FTC’s Red Flag Rules to Curb Identity Theft Set to Take Effect

The FTC’s “Red Flag” mandate to curb identity theft is set to take effect on November 1, 2009, one full year after the original policy was to be enforced. It appears that after many delays, the government is finally ready to take action.
Creditors and Financial Institutions must develop and implement a written Identity Theft Prevention Program.

Further, all employers that conduct background checks are supposed to have a policy in place to handle “Red Flag” Address Discrepancy Notifications from the National Consumer Reporting Agencies (mainly credit bureaus). This rule has been in effect since last November and we are still unclear what such notifications will look like when and if they occur.

For more information on these guidelines and how to comply check out:

Users of Consumer Reports Have New Responsibilities as of November 1
EmployeeScreenIQ Offers Free Webinar on New FTC Guidelines

U. of Akron Wants DNA for Background Checks

In a move sure to be debated throughout the country, the University of Akron is stipulating that all new employees submit a DNA sample for background screening purposes as a condition of employment.  While I’m intrigued by the inclusion of this as part of a thorough employment screening program, I’m not sure that there is any practical use for it now, or in the near future.

Want a Job In Akron? Hand Over Your DNA

University spokesperson Laura Massie said that they have not collected any samples as of yet.  They are just reserving the right to do so in the future.  The reason for the policy is that the university believes that eventually, DNA samples will be used to conduct background checks.  My response: don’t hold your breath.  Someday, people will also vacation on the moon, but it’s not happening anytime in the near future.

Critics say that this policy violates the soon to be enforced Genetic Information Non Discrimination Act (GINA).  This criticism makes sense.  What’s to stop the school from analyzing DNA of job applicants to see if they are predisposed to cancer or alcoholism or to growing a third eye?

I love the fact that the school is serious about demonstrating the importance of employment background checks, but suggest that they cross this bridge when they come to it (if it ever comes).

Massie responded to CBS after the article had been written.  In her email she states,  “the three most important points are these: First, General Counsel Ted Mallo believes that “GINA deals with gathering DNA for health insurance purposes” so genetic testing for background checks is permissible. Second, the school has not yet figured out how it will actually do DNA background tests. Third, the reason for the policy is: “DNA testing was included in the policy because there have been national discussions that indicate that in the future, reliance on fingerprinting will diminish and DNA for criminal identification will be the more prominent technology. By including it in the policy we have the flexibility to match the technology if the Ohio State Highway Patrol makes changes to its system.”

University of Akron law professor William Rich told CBS, “The Faculty Senate was not consulted about this policy. It wasn’t until just now that I became aware of it. Having now read the policy, I think it goes far beyond any imaginable justification for requiring DNA samples from job applicants, and I wonder just what the rationale for it was. The university does employ police officers who have law-enforcement authority under Ohio law and agreements with local police departments. I can imagine that there might be a justification for requiring prospective UA police officers to submit DNA samples (although I’d still like to know more about the rationale for that), but a university regulation that allows the University administration complete discretion to require DNA samples from any job applicant strikes me as way too broad.”

If nothing else, this will create more buzz for the University of Akron than if the Zips won the NCAA Football National Championship (well, maybe not that).  Maybe that was the point in the first place.

Talking Resume Fraud and Fake Degrees

I recently sat down with HRMarketer’s Kevin Grossman to discuss the the growing threat of diploma mills and the risk they pose to employers.  With more job applicants claiming to have these phony degrees, it’s more important than ever for employers to include an Education Verification in their background screening program.  We highlighted this issue and its impact in our recent white paper, Smoke, Mirrors and Resumes: The Growing Threat of Diploma Mills.

Check out our interview with Kevin below.

Background Checks “Flash Forward”

In the new television show “Flash Forward” from ABC, everyone gets a brief glimpse into what their lives are like 6 months into the future. So I started thinking about what the future holds for the employment screening landscape. Let’s take a look into that crystal ball together…

Quicker, faster, less expensive criminal records

More states and counties are making more information available in quicker, easier to access formats. This leads to better processes, increased clarity when reviewing old records, and faster turnaround times.

New services are emerging as complementary tools to a client’s screening program. A National Criminal Search is an example of a quality service that can provide additional information alongside the high quality county criminal search.

Amongst county court researchers, new technologies and search methods are taking shape. Hit percentages are increasing, delivering companies even better information to make strong hiring decisions.

Longer, tougher, more expensive criminal records

Wait a minute. Didn’t things just get better, faster and cost less? By and large, that will still be true in the future. But criminal records are best found by searching the county courthouse, and some communities are feeling the economic pinch. Less tax revenue means fewer staff members and the technology upgrades that are needed for a fast, streamlined background check.

How will this impact your background check program? Courts may balance budgets by restricting access and/or charging more money for court documents. Some courts close early, or shut their doors one day a week. Others are furloughing or permanently laying off court clerks.

Now, this is a localized issue. Not every jurisdiction will do this. And not every client will see delays. But for those who do, this is likely why. Hopefully, this trend will abate is things begin to improve.

People looking toward people looking for shortcuts

As the economy treads water, candidates will become more desperate to look good to the shrinking number of hiring managers filling open positions.

Where there are desperate candidates, there are others only too willing to take their money. Fake colleges and universities are sprouting up like weeds. These organizations offer diplomas and degrees for “life skills” which apparently rest solely upon a person’s ability to open their checkbook!

But the only victims here are the companies that do not do quality background checks. EmployeeScreenIQ is an industry leader in identifying and snuffing out diploma mills. New diploma mills pop up every day, but our team works hard and tries to find each and every one of them.

Most worrisome is the “employment mill,” an emerging phenomenon. Companies, for a fee, provide a verification of your “employment history.” It’s nothing but a set of lies. Plain and simple.

People looking away from people looking for jobs

Another scary trend shows no signs of abating. It is taking longer for schools and companies to provide education and employment verifications. As organizations deal with their own budget shortfalls, staff is either reduced or directed toward revenue producing activities. This means moving slower when it comes to verifying the employment history of your candidate. We chronicled this development earlier this year. See How Another Company’s Downsizing Negatively Affects YOUR Hiring Initiatives

Getting information through education and employment verifications remains a common courtesy. EmployeeScreenIQ team members are highly skilled at obtaining it; cajoling those who get no material benefit from cooperating to provide detailed insight in a timely manner. But as people become busier and administrative staffs shrink, providing information becomes even less important to those who hold it.

In another effort to balance budgets, states begin releasing early convicted criminals who have not served their entire sentence. Companies will see early release prisoners submitting applications for employment. At the same time, government agencies such as the EEOC are looking at the link between those denied jobs and the rationale used by employers. Regulatory officials are increasing their focus on its applicability and relevancy when making hiring decisions.

Some companies strengthened their screening strategy. Some companies…

A number of companies reviewed their screening program to ensure it was consistent and compliant. They evaluated whether it took advantage of new screening tools that were not formerly available. They assembled the appropriate stakeholders, created a structure and installed a modern, relevant and value driven screening program. By leveraging their screening partner’s expertise, they protected their organization.

Others stood still. Hoped the program that was selected in 2005 remained the best program for 2010. They didn’t engage their screening provider or passed on recommended changes. Some forgot the rationale behind a particular service, and re-ordered it each time in the future because it was ordered each time in the past.

Obviously, EmployeeScreenIQ prefers the former approach. So as we head back to the present, how do we together create something that lives on into the future?

Crafting a stronger, better future

A background check program is like a race car engine. Each piece should be periodically taken apart, cleaned, and reinstalled. New services should be evaluated, old services reconsidered.

The passage of time can be an enemy for clients whose program does not evolve, while the future affords the greatest opportunity to advance, strengthen and prosper. EmployeeScreenIQ truly enjoys working with clients on this process. But as excited as we get when you ask us to consult on the state of your screening program, we don’t know your business as well as you know your business. And we might not know when that engine needs a tune up.

If you’re hiring less and spending fewer total dollars, maybe design the program you always wanted, rather than the one you could afford when your total outflow was higher. Conversely, if we heard your future strategic goals, we might strongly recommend eliminating services you ordered for years. So it doesn’t always mean spending more. But it does mean spending smarter.

We’re entering a challenging time. Not because quality will plummet or costs will dramatically rise, but because there are things in flux whose outcome can’t be predicted. When will courts stop closing early on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Or re-hire the staff they furloughed? But on the flip side, which courthouses will increase the access they provide? Who will leverage technology to make more information available faster? Which new diploma mill will we sniff out tomorrow? It’s too bad we can’t “Flash Forward” in real life.

Kevin Bachman is Vice President of Quality Service for Cleveland-based EmployeeScreenIQ, a best practices provider of pre-employment screening services throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Kevin can be reached at (800) 235-3954 ext. 450 or by email at kbachman@employeescreen.com.

Phony Academic Degrees (The Fordyce Letter 10/23/2009)

In its new report, “Smoke, Mirrors, and Resumes: The Growing Threat of Diploma Mills,” background screening firm EmployeeScreenIQ claims that

phony academic degrees are a “constant presence in email inboxes, and their popularity is exploding with job candidates” and feed on applicants “who will do anything to enhance their resume” in a tough hiring market.

The company tried out a test: it requested a master’s degree in economics for its president and C.O.O., Jason B. Morris. In exchange for $75, they would send a “genuine” diploma. For an extra $75, the diploma mill would verify the degree by phone or email. EmployeeScreenIQ says it received the diploma within seven days; it featured raised seals and was printed on the type of paper one would expect for an academic degree. It had the proper dates and signatures and was ready to be framed.

For the full list (and it’s extensive, including such prestigious-sounding names as International Theological University – California; Northwest Florida

University; and Northern New England University), either click here to read the school names or download the entire free report at http://www.EmployeeScreen.com/whitepapers_articles.asp.

View Article

Airport Worker That Threatened Obama Passed Background Checks

Many organizations use employment background checks as a way to look at an individual’s past  to determine future behavior.  It can be very helpful when you find adverse or negative information.  But what if the background check doesn’t reveal any red flags?  The lack of negative information certainly stacks the odds in your favor that future behavior behavior will follow suit, but it’s not a guarantee.

Not sure if you saw this, but a Newark airport security guard was arrested for threatening to shoot President Barack Obama a day before he was supposed to fly into the that airport.  The New Jersey state police  licensed this individual and the company who hired him claimed that he passed their background check.  Let’s give both the state and the company the benefit of the doubt and say that this person was really never convicted of a crime.  Can the state or the employer be held accountable?  In my opinion, no.  They performed proper due diligence.  Remember, the lack of negative information can’t guarantee that the person will never pose a risk.  It just says that at the time you ran the background check, there was no adverse information.  Ordinarily, this is a pretty reliable indicator for the future, but not a guarantee.

See Newsday Article

Obama Threat Suspect Had Passed Background Checks

A security guard charged in a shooting threat against President Barack Obama had cleared extensive state and federal background checks, the Port Authority said Friday.

Screening for security guards is under the spotlight after an unarmed Newark Liberty International Airport guard, John Brek, 55, of Linden, N.J., was charged with three state felony counts after he was allegedly overheard making comments while on a coffee break a day before Obama was due to fly into the airport. Brek, a six-year employee of Floral Park-based FJC Security Services, has pleaded not guilty. One charge against Brek is for knowingly receiving a stolen rifle.

New Jersey State Police licensed Brek as a security guard after he met the required criminal-background checks, the Port Authority, which has a contract with FJC, said Friday. Brek also received authority clearance to work at Newark Liberty after he cleared its required FBI and 10-year background screening, an authority official said.

But a former police officer and chief executive of a national securities firm said such screenings aren’t always enough to weed out bad seeds. Michael Evans, chief executive of security firm USPA Nationwide, said a psychological evaluation also should have been required.

“I can see how it happened,” Evans said. “People put their best foot forward in their job interview.”

Psychological evaluation isn’t required under New Jersey state security guard licensing requirements, however. Prosecutors are seeking a psychiatric evaluation as part of their case against Brek.

Evans said contractors should require private security firms to perform psychological tests on employees. “It’s very hard to know what people are actually thinking,” he said.

More

11/12/2009 Corporate College Interview Day

Corporate College Interview Day

#Corporate College Interview Day

Interested in a great sales opportunity?

Come visit with [EmployeeScreenIQ](http://EmployeeScreen.com) at Corporate College located at 4400 Richmond Heights in Warrensville Heights, Ohio

November 12, 2009

Email your resume to jobs@employeescreen.com to schedule an appointment

If you have a passion for sales, a proven track record in business development and are interested in working with a leader in the pre-employment background screening industry, then we want to talk to you!

Please join us on Thursday November 12, 2009 at Cuyahoga Community College’s Corporate Campus and spend ten minutes with us to discuss this opportunity.

This event will give you the opportunity to:

* Present your resume for review

* Talk face to face with our recruiting team about our mission, growth and success

* Demonstrate your experience and expertise in sales and the ability to offer customers high quality services

See Below for Additional Details

* Please RSVP by emailing us at jobs@employeescreen.com. Please include your name, phone number and email address

* We will respond to your inquiry within 48 business hours and let you know the timeslot (s) available

* Please bring your resume

Last Chance to Check out EmployeeScreenIQ Week

1410Is it really Friday already?  Time flies when you’re having fun and we certainly had a share of it on Recruiter Earth this week.  Today, they are featuring a radio show with HR Marketer’s Kevin Grossman and I discussing our recent white paper: Background Checks in a Tight Economy (free download, no info required). 

Listen to Radio Show

If you weren’t around all week, no worries.  Here’s a recap of this week’s highlights.

Also, don’t forget that it’s not too late to win an Amazon Kindle.  Just tell us why background checks are important to your organization.  The best respond wins!

So there you have it.  It has been a great week and I want to thank Chris LaVoie, Jim Shaki and all of the folks over at Recruiter Earth.  They have been tremendous hosts.