TransUnion Battling Attempts to Ban Employment Credit Checks

Once again a brilliant quote by Attorney Pamela Devata of Seyfarth Shaw.  This is a timely article seeing as we just recently published a white paper on credit reports and background checks.

credit reportsTransUnion, the Chicago-based credit reporting agency controlled by the powerful Pritzker family, is fighting to preserve the use of credit checks in employment screening, even as several states, including Illinois, threaten to outlaw the practice in most circumstances as discriminatory.

The company is one of three major credit bureaus that collect information on the borrowing and bill-paying habits of most Americans. They make money from employers and financial institutions that use such information in helping guide their decisions about lending, extending credit, housing and hiring.

TransUnion’s chairman, Penny Pritzker, serves on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, charged with advising Barack Obama’s economic recovery efforts. Some say her company’s lobbying efforts, which have extended to Oregon and Connecticut, undermine the nation’s goals of getting back to work more than 15 million unemployed people in the U.S.

TransUnion has publicly defended credit checks as a way for employers to protect themselves against theft and fraud. The thinking is that someone who has a poor credit history or has gone bankrupt might be more likely to engage in unethical or illegal behavior, especially in jobs where they handle money or are involved in financial matters.

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Fake Degrees Lead to Job Dismissals and Possible Prosecution

Individuals who purchase fake degrees are now paying a heavy toll for their deceptions while others are encouraged to use fake degrees to fill overseas teaching positions. Recently, two medical physicists were sent to prison for passing off fake degrees as authentic credentials. Conversely, job recruiters as far as China are producing fake college degrees to lure foreign teachers to teach English as a Second Language abroad.

Because a college degree can lead to an exciting new job, a promotion, and a pay raise, many employees are taking steps to earn college degrees either online or in traditional college classrooms. However, diploma mills make it very easy for individuals to purchase official-looking documents and transcripts, thereby edging out otherwise qualified applicants for jobs and promotions.

Diploma Mills Strike it Rich

With the advent of the Internet, the diploma mill industry has grown into a billion-dollar business. According to a congressional committee report, half a million Americans purchased fake degrees in 1986 alone, and the practice continues today. In the book Degree Mills: The Billion Dollar Industry That Has Sold Over a Million Fake Diplomas by Allen Ezell and John Bear, the authors divide the business of selling degrees into three eras: 700 (or Earlier) through 1979, 1980 through 1991, and the period since then. In essence, diploma mills have been around as long as there has been higher education and the need to document it.

It’s not always easy to separate the real schools from the authentic ones, especially when the lines are blurred. Ezell and Bear write that a medical school in the Caribbean was selling fake medical degrees for $28,000 while simultaneously providing a legitimate medical school education to enrolled students.

In another case, a fraudulent doctor in California bribed an employee at a major university to fudge school records to give the appearance that the physician had, in fact, earned a degree from that college. While officials believe that this was a one-time occurrence, it’s not unlikely that similar actions have occurred at other universities, given the widespread practice of degree fraud.

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4/28/2010 EmployeeScreenIQ Survey Asks HR Professionals to Share Their Perspective on Background Screening Trends

Six-minute survey covers attitudes about emerging issues, diploma mills, laws that protect job applicants and more; results to be released in June

Cleveland (PRWEB) April 28, 2010 — How important are background checks in the hiring process? Which matters more: criminal background checks or credit reports? Where do contractors fit in?

Human resources managers can voice their opinions about these and other issues related to background screening in a new survey launched by EmployeeScreenIQ, a global background screening provider. The brief survey also covers attitudes about emerging issues, education and employment history fraud, laws to protect job applicants, and more.

Those who complete the survey will be entered into a prize drawing for an Amazon Kindle E-reader. All participants will receive an executive summary of the survey results when they become available in June.

The survey can be taken by visiting: http://hrmarketer.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3Ueudx020TqNCwA&SVID=

Other survey topics revolve around social networking, how hiring managers view screening reports, and which screening services are used most often by employers.

“Over the years EmployeeScreenIQ has been at the forefront of identifying trends that shape the employment screening industry,” said Nick Fishman, chief marketing officer of EmployeeScreenIQ. “However, social networking, diploma mills, and other hot topics are quickly transforming the world of background checks. So we’re turning to HR professionals across North America to share their experiences and insights.”

About EmployeeScreenIQ
EmployeeScreenIQ is a Cleveland, Ohio-based employment screening company offering a variety of employment screening services to mid- and large-cap organizations throughout the world, including those in North and South America, Europe and East Asia. For more information, visit www.EmployeeScreen.com.

Take the 2010 Employment Background Screening Trends Survey

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EmployeeScreenIQ is surveying the HR world, and six minutes could win you a Kindle

How important are background checks in your hiring process? Which matters more: criminal background checks or credit reports? Where do contractors fit in?

You’re invited to participate in the 2010 Employment Background Screening Trends Survey from EmployeeScreenIQ. It takes only 6-7 minutes to complete and covers attitudes about emerging issues, diploma mills, laws to protect job applicants, and more.

Just by completing the survey, you’ll be entered in a prize drawing to win an Amazon Kindle E-reader. All participants will receive an executive summary of the survey results in June.

Click below to share your thoughts!

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EmployeeScreenIQ’s Commitment to World Class Customer Service

Earlier this month, EmployeeScreenIQ was notified that we were being honored as a World Class Customer Service organization by Smart Business Magazine. We’re very proud of this recognition and wanted to introduce you to the person who oversees our efforts in this regard. Meet our Director of Client Relations, Kelly Lucha.

NFL Draft a Perfect Example for How Hiring Decisions Are Made

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I’m an NFL junky, so when I learned that they planned to change their draft format to three days I knew that my couch and I would be spending some bonding time together (and that my wife would most likely threaten divorce by day three).  As I watched the first round last night, I couldn’t help but reflect on how the process for selecting a player was very much the same process we all apply to hiring employees.  No, we don’t study film or subject our candidates to sprints, but we look at their resume.  We look at their past experience and other qualifications.  And of course, we conduct thorough background checks to ensure that we make an informed hiring decision before investing our time and money.  Much like us, NFL teams are hesitant to bring on those that can’t perform up to expectations or will reflect negatively on our organizations.  We also both struggle with identifying the right balance between overlooking past transgressions because the candidate is just too good to pass up.

There were many examples of this last night and I thought I would share one of them.  Many were stunned to see University of Florida standout, Tim Tebow selected in the first round by the Denver Broncos.  Why?  Most don’t believe he can be a successful quarterback at the pro level.  However, he was probably one of the best quarterbacks ever in the college game and evidently, Denver thinks that they can catch lightening in a bottle.  Many thought that Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen was a much better prospect and were stunned by the fact that Tebow was selected before him.

Here’s what Denver might have been thinking.  Tebow is known to be an all-around nice guy.  He is a leader both on the field and in the locker room.  He was always respected by his coaches, his teammates, his fans and the media.  Clausen on the other hand rolled into Notre Dame with a big chip on his shoulder and alienated his teammates for most of his college career.  He also had a few off-field incidents which reflected poorly on his university.  Plus, Denver has taken a hard line approach with players that put themselves above the team over the last couple of years (see Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler).  So they appear to have made a decision by weighing experience, performance, potential and background.  In this case, character seems to have been the decisive factor.

By the way, some might assume from this post that I am a Notre Dame hater.  Well, I am.  But I am an equal opportunity hater.  I can’t stand the Gators either and it makes me sick to sing Tebow’s praises.  Plus, I guess I’ll be mildly happy if the Cleveland Browns take Clausen in the 2nd round.

Missouri Moves to Redact Identifiers on Criminal Records

Courts in the state of Missouri have have proposed a rule that would remove personal identifiers such as Social Security Numbers and Dates of Birth from public records. “Court Operating Rule #2” is most likely an effort to mitigate the opportunity for identity theft, but there is an unintended consequence that is not being considered. This measure would be an insurmountable set-back to any organization who conducts criminal background checks on potential job candidates. If the courts destroy these records, employers have no way of being assured that they can perform thorough due diligence on their candidates.

There is still plenty of time to influence law makers in Missouri and I am certain that the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) will lead the efforts to educate them. Those that are interested in getting involved can send a letter to Catherine Zacharias, General Counsel, State Judicial Records Committee.

We’ll pass more along information on this as soon as it becomes available.

NAPBS has been very successful educating public officials when similar bills are introduced. See examples below of these efforts. In each instance, the measure was defeated.

New Mexico House Bill 103 Threatens Employment Background Checks
Rhode Island Legislators Approve Bill to Destroy Criminal Records
Massachusetts Proposes Redaction of Personal Identifiers: Bad News for Employment Screening
Oklahoma Supreme Court Reverses Itself on the Removal of Identifiers

Missouri Moves to Redact Identifiers on Criminal Records

Courts in the state of Missouri have have proposed a rule that would remove personal identifiers such as Social Security Numbers and Dates of Birth from public records. “Court Operating Rule #2” is most likely an effort to mitigate the opportunity for identity theft, but there is an unintended consequence that is not being considered. This measure would be an insurmountable set-back to any organization who conducts background checks on potential job candidates. If the courts destroy these records, employers have no way of being assured that they can perform thorough due diligence on their candidates.

There is still plenty of time to influence law makers in Missouri and I am certain that the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) will lead the efforts to educate them. Those that are interested in getting involved can send a letter to Catherine Zacharias, General Counsel, State Judicial Records Committee.

We’ll pass more along information on this as soon as it becomes available.

NAPBS has been very successful educating public officials when similar bills are introduced. See examples below of these efforts. In each instance, the measure was defeated.

New Mexico House Bill 103 Threatens Employment Background Checks
Rhode Island Legislators Approve Bill to Destroy Criminal Records
Massachusetts Proposes Redaction of Personal Identifiers: Bad News for Employment Screening
Oklahoma Supreme Court Reverses Itself on the Removal of Identifiers

CRA Settles FCRA Charges

Reporting Agency Settles Fair Credit Reporting Act Charges

A nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency that provides casinos credit reports used to assess customers’ eligibility for credit and check cashing will pay $150,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), FTC officials said today.

Central Credit LLC, according to FTC officials, failed to inform casinos that use its credit reports of their legal obligations under the FCRA – such as providing adverse-action notices to consumers when credit is declined or a check is not cashed. It also allegedly failed to inform companies that furnish information for credit reports of their legal obligation to provide accurate information about consumers.

Central Credit further failed to inform consumers of their rights under FCRA, such as the right to obtain a free annual credit report. Finally, the company did not establish a streamlined process for consumers to request free annual credit reports, including publishing a toll-free number and providing clear instructions about how to request a free report.

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