5/27/2010 Fooling Some of the People Some of the Time

May 27, 2010

Fooling Some of the People Some of the Time

SpaceCoast Business Magazine

Resume Fraud Is More Prevalent than You May Think

One of the most common methods for applicants to present their knowledge, skills, and abilities to potential employers is the resume.  Resumes typically contain information regarding an applicant’s education, previous employment, job-related experience, and professional certifications and licensure.  An entire industry has emerged to support the jobseekers’ efforts to improve their resumes.  There are thousands of self-help books, websites, and resume writing services that help applicants present themselves in a positive light.  Although most applicants legitimately try to capture the attention of a potential employer while presenting a factual account of their employment history, many applicants choose to cross the line and intentionally falsify information.

Recently, there have been many highly publicized examples of resume fraud involving high-level executives (e.g., Sandra Baldwin, chair of the U.S. Olympic Committee; Al Dunlap, CEO of Sunbeam; Ronald Zarella, CEO of Bausch & Lomb).  Popular press articles suggest that resume fraud is commonplace, and is increasing due to current economic conditions.  However, independent research estimates of the prevalence of resume falsification are rare.

What the Research Shows

The Applicant Response Behavior (ARB) project at the Florida Institute of Technology has been examining the issue of applicant deception for more than a decade, and their findings suggest that 20-25% of applicants are providing false information on resumes.  These falsifications are not the typical embellishments we have come to expect to see on a resume.  Substantial portions of these resumes contain manipulations of key facts, dates, and accomplishments.  ARB examined the accuracy of almost 2 million applicant resumes collected from March 2007 to March 2009. Our data suggested that on average 14.5% of applicant resumes contained verifiably false information regarding previous employment, educational background, etc.  An additional 14% of the resumes contained claims that could not be verified as true.  While some of these unverified claims have legitimate explanations, many benefit from their previous employer’s reluctance to share information.

As the economy worsened over the two-year period we examined (unemployment grew from 4.4% to 8.5%)these rates of applicant falsification rose 30 percent. When we surveyed applicants regarding falsification of application materials, 23% of job seekers reported that they had been dishonest on their application materials.  However, 95% of job seekers believed that other applicants falsified their application.  Overall, the evidence we have examined in the ARB project suggests that applicant deception is commonplace, with 20-30% of applicants engaging in dishonesty across diverse selection methods (e.g. resume, interview, personality tests).

What to Look For

Should organizations be concerned about these numbers?  Our research examining the characteristics of individuals who fail background checks and falsify other selection tools suggests that they should.  One of the top predictors of screening failure was the applicant’s level of impulsivity.  The trait of impulsivity has strong links to criminal behavior and counter productive work behavior (CWB).  Three hundred billion dollars are lost each year to CWB.  The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that over $50 billion alone is lost to retail theft, and employees are responsible for almost 50% of that loss.  Criminal behavior resulting in negligence claims has increased in frequency and in punitive damages, now averaging over $1 million a year.

What can organizations do to reduce their exposure to negligence and CWB?  Our research suggests that organizations need to adjust their strategic view of the selection process.  Most selection tools are used to discern the best applicants to hire based on their intelligence, formal training, and fit for the job and the organization.  These selection metrics are used to skim the cream of the applicant pool to find the best employees based on job relevant factors.  However, with the prevalence of resume fraud, organizations may be hiring more applicants from the bottom of the barrel than they previously thought.  For as many as 25% of applicants, the information that is evaluated to make the hiring decision may be falsified.

Organizations should be investing in screening systems to eliminate these potentially problematic employees from the applicant pool.  By integrating predictors of CWB and a background check into the selection processes, organizations can identify those likely to engage in CWB, and catch the fox before it gets in the henhouse.

Dr. Richard Griffith is an associate professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, and the director of the Applicant Response Behavior (ARB) project.  His research examines the prevalence and impact of applicant deception.  His research has been featured in Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal.

Disney Employee Charged in Stock Plot

images“Hi, I have access to Disney’s (DIS) quarterly earnings report before its release on 5/3/10.  I am willing to share this information for a fee that we can determine later.”

That was the email message sent to various Wall Street traders from the boyfriend of a Disney employee who was the assistant to the head of corporate communications.  Instead of pursuing the offer many of these traders reported the information to the SEC.  A sting was set up, the gruesome twosome were offered $20,000 for the information and bam! they were arrested.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the employee was in it for the shoes.

I am certain that Disney employs stringent employment screening requirements including a comprehensive criminal background check.  And it isn’t being reported that the employee had any prior records.  This story just underscores the need for employers to be vigilant in their screening efforts.

Disney Drama As Stock Plot Is Foiled- The Wall Street Journal

Federal authorities alleged Wednesday that a Walt Disney Co. executive assistant and her boyfriend engaged in a ham-handed plot to sell Wall Street traders inside information, first offered in a chirpy missive sent to dozens of investment companies.

“Hi, I have access to Disney’s (DIS) quarterly earnings report before its release on 05/03/10,” the March 5 letter began. “I am willing to share this information for a fee that we can determine later.”

The alleged plan went awry. Instead of taking the bait, “multiple hedge funds reported the illicit scheme,” the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a press release.

In a pair of complaints filed Wednesday, federal authorities said the letter and subsequent emails were sent by Yonni Sebbag, whose girlfriend Bonnie Hoxie was an assistant to Disney’s head of corporate communications.

Disney said in a statement Wednesday that it “has been fully cooperating with this investigation.” Ms. Hoxie was at work as recently as Tuesday, according to people at the company.

A federal judge ordered Mr. Sebbag held as a potential flight risk and released Ms. Hoxie on a $50,000 bond Wednesday. Neither responded to the charges in a bail hearing Wednesday.

The March 5 form letter was sent to 33 investment companies, according to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan federal court charging the two with conspiracy and wire fraud. Undercover agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation began corresponding with Mr. Sebbag, who used the pseudonym “Jonathan Cyrus” in the email exchanges, according to the complaint.

As the earnings release approached, Mr. Sebbag, 29 years old, and Ms. Hoxie, 33, engaged in an awkward exchange of their own as they waited with growing frustration for the quarterly earnings data to materialize, according to transcripts in both complaints. The exchange at points took on the tone of any couple bickering over mundane issues like bill paying.

“Get things moving with all the powers you have,” Mr. Sebbag urged his girlfriend at one point.

“Thanks for the flattery,” Ms. Hoxie replied. “I wish you could come to work every day with me.”

On the day of the earnings release, Ms. Hoxie sent Mr. Sebbag an email stating “here is the bag that you are going to get for me,” the SEC said in a companion civil complaint filed in New York federal court. It said the email included a link to “a picture of an expensive Stella McCartney designer handbag available for $700 at Neiman Marcus.”

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Fake Degree Leads to Arrest

Usually when we talk about fake degrees, we are referring to diploma or degree mills.  There have been many stories in the news as of late about people using academic credentials purchased by these “schools” to either land a job or obtain a higher position or pay.  In addition to the issuing the diploma or degree, many of these institutions offer to verify their “authenticity” in order to make their product seem like the real deal. 

In this story, however, the degree this individual claimed was not from a diploma mill – it was from the University of Miami.  Apparently this guy thought it would be a good idea forge a degree document from the school, photocopy it and submit it to a potential employer in order to land a $127,932/year paying position.  All it took was one phone call to the University of Miami to find out he had never attended the college.  He now faces one charge of criminal possession of a forged instrument and three charges of offering a false instrument for filing.  If convicted, he could end up serving an 11-year prison sentence.

BUSTED: Sanitation construction project manager arrested for submitting a fake degree

Myles Miller, NY City Hall Examiner – May 26, 2010

MAYBE HE SHOULD HAVE GONE TO COLLEGE.

The Department of Investigation arrested city Sanitation Department construction project manager Bernard Feraca, 57 of Bronxville, NY for using a “fake academic degree to land a high paying City job”, according to DOI Commissioner Rose Gil Hearn.

Feraca, who submitted a fake Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the University of Miami, was charged today with criminal possession of a forged instrument and three counts of offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, Feraca could face 11 years in prison. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has assigned ADA Peter Rienzi to prosecute this case.

Fereca, joined the Department of Sanitation in February 2010, and was assigned to the Engineering Support Services unit.

His city salary was $127,932; he has been suspended without pay.

Under a city policy the DOI conducts a thorough background check of roughly 2,000 employees annually who are promoted to management positions, earn more than $80,000 annually and deal with city contracts or  super sensitive city computer programs.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court a DOI “investigation found that on January 22nd, 2010, the defendant submitted to DSNY a photocopy of his purported Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.”

The investigation proved there was no record of Feraca ever being a student at the University of Miami.
On Feraca’s Facebook page he has two friends who went to the University of Miami, and lists among his likes “Big Prize Giveaways.”

This is the latest in a series of bogus diplomas and degrees from city employees. In 2007, a DOI report showed the submission of “bogus degrees” in the Fire Department. That investigation resulted in “14 disciplinary actions and improved verification procedures at the FDNY” according to the Department of Investigation.

Let’s Talk Employment Background Checks at the Annual SHRM Conference!

Don’t look now, but it’s almost time for the Annual SHRM Conference.  I’m thrilled with this year’s destination of San Diego, but wish the airlines would cooperate a bit more.  Have you seen the airfares to San Diego from the Chicago or the East Coast?

EmployeeScreenIQ has a lot to talk about at this year’s conference.  We’ll be exhibiting on the show floor and conducting our IQ Podcasts; discussing our employment screening services and criminal background checks.  Of course, there will be plenty of giveaways.  We’ll also be raffling off two Apple iPad’s. Please stop by at Booth #1023 and say hello.

We also will be unveiling the results of our Background Screening Trends Survey which covers attitudes about emerging issues, diploma mills, laws that protect job applicants and more.  We had over 600 respondents and look forward to sharing this impactful study.

Lastly, EmployeeScreenIQ President and C.O.O., Jason B. Morris will be speaking about the dangers of using social networking sites to screen job applicants.

“Social Networking Sites: Can You Always Trust What You See?” is the title of the presentation, which will take place Monday, June 28, at 4 p.m. (PST) at the San Diego Convention Center. The 75-minute session will highlight a variety of emerging employment screening trends with a focus on the use of social networking sites to conduct background checks.

10/7/2010 Wisconsin State SHRM Conference (Speaking Engagement)

Recruiting and Hiring Liabilities: Protecting Your Organization from the Harmful Effects of Web 2.0

EmployeeScreenIQ’s Nick Fishman will be speaking at the Wisconsin State SHRM Conference in Appleton, WI at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel and Conference Center on October 7, 2010 at 10:30am.

Technology has dramatically changed the way we compete for talent and screen prospective employees, but nothing approaches the impact of social networking.  With the widespread use of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites comes a new wave of legal liabilities for both recruiters and screeners. Other emerging technology threats include online diploma fraud, employment mills that manufacture work experience, screen scraping, and more.  Employers need to develop best practices and policies in order to successfully manage Web 2.0 technologies.

Join EmployeeScreenIQ’s Chief Marketing Office,  Nick Fishman for an informative session about how to protect your company in the age of Facebook.  You’ll learn which social networking sites are most popular with recruiters and applicants, and their impact on employment screening and the hiring process.  Attendees will also learn how to develop a social media policy and spot the warning signs of diploma and employment mills.  Finally, you’ll examine other Web 2.0 trends such as screen scraping and instant screening.

Credit Checks, Employment Screening and the Law

I think it’s safe to say that the employment background screening buzz in 2010 clearly belongs to the use of credit reports and the corresponding legalities.  Yes, employers have the right to conduct a credit check on prospective and current employees under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  However, the states of Hawaii and Washington have laws that strictly limit their use and Oregon will follow suit this July.  There are also 28 pending bills in 19 other states to do the same.

The EEOC has also been actively pursuing litigation on grounds that credit reports have a disparate impact on minorities. Navigating this legal minefield can be difficult and those who use credit reports are encouraged to take a close look at their practices.  (We address this in our most recent white paper, Credit Reports and The Hiring Process: The Value (and Risk) to HR Professionals.

I just saw a helpful post on HR-BLR that sheds some light on these laws and is worth the read.  See below:

Running Credit Checks? Be Careful


Do you usually include credit history as part of your background checks on all job applicants? What if you also rerun those checks on employees you hope to promote? Tony Campiti, employment law attorney in the Dallas, Texas, office of Thompson & Knight, explained to us the causes for concern with such practices.

It’s all about E-RACE. Beginning in 2008 and ending in 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is focusing on facially neutral employer practices that may have a disparate impact on minority groups. Examples of such practices include use of arrest and conviction records, employment and personality tests, and credit scores in hiring.

The reasons are clear: Latinos and African Americans are statistically more likely than Caucasians to have poor credit history or a criminal conviction in their records. By automatically excluding candidates with poor credit, bankruptcy, or a felony conviction, an employer risks blocking many more minority candidates than whites from being hired.

Where does federal law stand? Campiti points out that the arena of the potential disparate impact of background and credit checks on minority groups has several facets. On one hand, for example, the federal Bankruptcy Code (11 USC 525b) prohibits employers from discriminating against anyone who has filed for bankruptcy. That generally holds for public employers, says Campiti, but not for private ones. However, there’s an important distinction here: The law bars biased treatment of employees—even those of private employers—but not of applicants.

So generally under federal law, private employers may run credit checks on job applicants and have a blanket policy of turning down those with poor credit history or a bankruptcy filing. Doing so for an existing employee being considered for promotion is riskier: That can violate the Bankruptcy Code. But here’s the rub: Even in the case of applicants, EEOC is concerned that blanket policies barring hire of people with bankruptcy filings will have a disparate impact, and in 2009 it sued some employers for such practices.

And state laws? So far, says Campiti, only Hawaii and Washington have laws limiting employers’ bars on hiring anyone with a bankruptcy filing. But such a law for Oregon becomes effective July 1, and some 28 bills in 19 states were proposed in 2009. New Jersey, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan have been active on the issue. And, state laws fall far short of EEOC’s objectives. Such laws typically make exceptions not only for applicants to federally insured financial institutions and employers that are required by federal or state law to conduct credit checks—but also for all managerial or supervisory positions.

We said that seems like a huge loophole, and Campiti agreed. His advice? To avoid EEOC scrutiny, ensure that whenever you use credit checks to bar the hire of applicants, you can show job-related criteria and/or a business necessity for the practice.

Campiti describes a case recently decided on appeal in Texas as an example of how courts treat charges of bankruptcy bias. Sent by a recruiter, a woman applied for a job at a firm in which she was qualified to do legal work. The firm made her an offer conditioned on the results of a background check and credit history. But finding she had declared bankruptcy in the recent past, the firm withdrew the offer, and the applicant sued. The appeals court agreed that the Bankruptcy Code does not bar private employers from refusing to hire someone who has filed for bankruptcy. (Burnett v. Stewart Title, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, No. H-08193, (3/29/10)).

In a similar case, Florida courts ruled against a would-be restaurant manager who sued for bankruptcy bias when his prospective employer abruptly withdrew its job offer after he’d given notice to his previous employer. Courts ruled he wasn’t yet an employee when the new chain turned him down, so the chain wasn’t liable.

Campiti notes that Hawaii’s bankruptcy-protection law requires that credit checks be run only after an applicant has been given a conditional offer of employment. But that is not true, he asserts, under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, which governs background checks for employers in states that don’t have their own laws. As HR pros are aware, applicants must be told in writing that one or more third parties will be consulted regarding the applicants’ credit history or other background, and must then be notified if the prospective employer makes a negative decision based on the information it obtained. Further, the candidate must be given a chance to rectify any inaccurate data in the reports. But such investigations can be done at any time in the process, not just after a job offer has been made.

Let’s say you are a public employer reviewing an applicant’s credit history, or a private employer reviewing an employee’s history. You can’t refuse to hire or promote the person solely on the basis that he or she has filed for bankruptcy protection. Instead, you must show that you turned the person down on the basis of his or her negative credit history, not the bankruptcy.

And, Campiti advises, stand ready to cite job-related or business necessity reasons for doing so. But he acknowledges that avoiding bankruptcy bias is currently a contentious issue. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” he says, “if Congress moves to amend the Bankruptcy Code to make it harder for employers to reject applicants just because they have declared bankruptcy at some point.”

Fake Your Way Into the Army?

Jesse Bernard JohnstonEarlier in the week we wrote about Adam Wheeler who lied his way into Harvard. (And many other things)  This one just blows my mind.  Get ready for this.  Jesse Bernard Johnston III joined the Army Reserves as a sergeant but was not qualified to hold that rank.  According the the AP, Johnston’s only military experience was attending part of a 12-week Marine officer candidate course for college students in 2004.  This is pretty VERY scary.  Because of lax background check procedures many lives could have been at stake.  He was given security clearance and was in a position to lead troops into combat…..with no training.  Does this mean our military could possibly be infiltrated by terrorists and others wishing to do our country harm?  I think this story raises significant issues and kudos to the AP for uncovering it.  Background screening at all levels of government has come under fire over the last few years.  Is this just the tip of the iceberg?

AP INVESTIGATION: Texas man faked way into Army

FORT WORTH, Texas – A Texas man with no military experience tricked the Army into letting him enter a reserve unit as a noncommissioned officer earlier this year, a deception that placed an untrained soldier in a leadership position in a time of war, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The revelation comes just months after the Army drew criticism for failing to flag the suspicious activities of the Army psychiatrist now charged with killing 13 and wounding dozens of others at Fort Hood.

The case, detailed in court records and other documents examined by the AP, raises more questions about the Army’s ability to vet soldiers’ backgrounds as it faces continued pressure from Congress over its screening and records system. While the soldier never deployed overseas, some say the case demonstrates how easily someone could pose as a member of the U.S. military.

Jesse Bernard Johnston III, 26, joined the Army Reserve in February as a sergeant and was assigned to the Corps Support Airplane Company based at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station. But he wasn’t qualified to hold that rank, according to military records obtained by the AP. The records show that Johnston’s only military experience was attending part of a 12-week Marine officer candidate course for college students in 2004.

Maj. Shawn Haney, spokeswoman for Marine Manpower and Reserve Affairs, said Johnston didn’t complete the course’s final six weeks. “He was never considered a Marine,” she said.

The matter, currently under investigation by the Army, means a soldier received a security clearance and was in position to lead troops in combat even though he hadn’t gone through basic training or spent any time in the service. The Corps Support Airplane Company has been deployed in Iraq, providing pilots as well as intelligence and support personnel for an aviation battalion set up to destroy improvised explosive devices.

If it’s proven that Johnston gained his Army rank based on a phony Marine record, it would be the first documented case of so-called “stolen valor” in which the military was duped during the enlistment process, according to watchdogs of such fraud. Most cases involve attempts to get veterans’ benefits or other forms of financial gain. Congress attempted to crack down on military impostors in 2005 by passing a law that makes it a crime to claim false decorations or medals.

“This just raises some incredibly significant issues at a time when this country is involved in a global war on terror,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican who served with the Marines in Iraq and the first Gulf War. “If this person was able to penetrate the military fraudulently, you have to ask the question: Couldn’t somebody who was out to do harm to our country do the same thing?”

Coffman is pushing for the creation of a single database for all military records as a step toward eliminating fraud.

Army officials, citing an ongoing investigation, declined to provide details of Johnston’s enlistment or say whether he’s suspected of providing false documents or using some other means to make himself out to be an ex-Marine.

Questions about Johnston were raised by an officer who grew concerned when Johnston couldn’t satisfactorily explain how he got certain Marine medals and ribbons that he displayed. The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said he contacted Marine and Army legal authorities and learned from the Marines that Johnston never served.

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Charter Teacher Who Beat Student Was Wanted

As important as it is to conduct a background check on potential new hires, it is just as important to ensure your employees are staying out of trouble once they are  hired. 

A Texas Charter School teacher has been fired and now faces criminal charges stemming from an incident caught on video of her assaulting one of her 13-year-old students.  A warrant had been issued for this teacher’s arrest over a year before the assault occurred for criminal mischief – she is accused of slashing another woman’s tires in January of 2009.  If the Charter School had a policy in place to re-check their employees’ background annually, they would have learned of the warrant and taken the appropriate action.  Perhaps then this unfortunate incident would not have occurred.

Charter Teacher Who Beat Student Was Wanted

(May 13) — The Houston charter school teacher caught on a cell-phone video beating a 13-year-old student was wanted on a criminal mischief charge, accused of slashing a woman’s tires last year.

Sheri Lynn Davis, 40, was fired Monday by Jamie’s House Charter School. However, she won’t lose her teaching certificate because she never had one, the Houston Chronicle reported. Texas law states that only bilingual and special education teachers must be certified in order to work at charter schools. Davis is a science teacher.

Davis taught at the charter school for more than a year while a warrant was out for her arrest, stemming from the alleged tire slashing in January 2009. Davis is scheduled to appear in court on that criminal mischief charge, a misdemeanor, on Tuesday, according to Houston’s KRIV-TV. 

She lost her job after school administrators saw a cell phone video recorded by one of her students in late April that showed her slapping and kicking 13-year-old Isaiah Johnson, then dragging him across the floor and slamming his head into a wall. The boy’s mother, Alesha Johnson, said Isaiah suffered a black eye and other bruises in the attack.

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Bill Would Make FBI Clean Up Criminal Record Database

We’ve written extensively about the many holes in the FBI’s criminal record database.  Past studies have shown that it includes only 55% of all criminal records from across the county and the FBI is the first to admit that the database was not created our intended for employment screening purposes.  However, some organizations and industries are required to perform criminal background checks through this resource.  In addition to the fact that the database is incomplete, it also contains information that cannot be used in a hiring decision such as arrest records, charges that do not result in convictions, etc.

According to NextGov.com Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, introduced the 2010 Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act in response to a June 2006 report from the attorney general that showed nearly 50 percent of criminal records maintained in the NCIC database failed to note court decisions to dismiss arrests.

See the story below:

Bill Would Require FBI to Fill in Gaps in Criminal Records Database

A bill introduced in the House would strengthen the accuracy of the FBI’s criminal records database by requiring the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to verify that crime data is up to date. Employers rely on the database to conduct background checks on potential hires.

The 2010 Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act would require the attorney general to find out from court offices, including those in state and local jurisdictions, the outcome of arrests whenever an employer requests a background check, and update that record in theNational Crime Information Centerdatabase. In cases where the attorney general discovers an arrest was dismissed in court, he has 10 days to update the record before responding to the employer’s request.

Employers often consult the NCIC database to conduct background checks on individuals applying for jobs in law enforcement, homeland security or organizations where they’d be working with vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly. Typically only public sector entities can request FBI background checks, though certain private sector companies — such as those supporting federal homeland security efforts — can as well.

Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, introduced the bill on May 13 in response to a June 2006 report from the attorney general that showed nearly 50 percent of criminal records maintained in the NCIC database failed to note court decisions to dismiss arrests.

“In the current economy, neither employers nor workers can afford employment background records that are inaccurate or incomplete,” Scott said in a statement e-mailed to Nextgov.

The legislation would give job applicants the opportunity to obtain a copy of records provided to a potential employer and challenge their accuracy and completeness. If the records are challenged, the attorney general would have 30 days to complete an investigation, make changes or deletions, and report those changes to the applicant and the employer.

More

5/19/2010 New Bill Requires FBI to Clean Up Criminal Records Database

We’ve written extensively about the many holes in the FBI’s criminal record database.  Past studies have shown that it includes only 55% of all criminal records from across the county and the FBI is the first to admit that the database was not created our intended for employment screening purposes.  However, some organizations and industries are required to perform criminal background checks through this resource.  In addition to the fact that the database is incomplete, it also contains information that cannot be used in a hiring decision such as arrest records, charges that do not result in convictions, etc.

According to NextGov.com Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, introduced the 2010 Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act in response to a June 2006 report from the attorney general that showed nearly 50 percent of criminal records maintained in the NCIC database failed to note court decisions to dismiss arrests.

See the story below:

Bill Would Require FBI to Fill in Gaps in Criminal Records Database

A bill introduced in the House would strengthen the accuracy of the FBI’s criminal records database by requiring the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to verify that crime data is up to date. Employers rely on the database to conduct background checks on potential hires.

The 2010 Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act would require the attorney general to find out from court offices, including those in state and local jurisdictions, the outcome of arrests whenever an employer requests a background check, and update that record in theNational Crime Information Center database. In cases where the attorney general discovers an arrest was dismissed in court, he has 10 days to update the record before responding to the employer’s request.

Employers often consult the NCIC database to conduct background checks on individuals applying for jobs in law enforcement, homeland security or organizations where they’d be working with vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly. Typically only public sector entities can request FBI background checks, though certain private sector companies — such as those supporting federal homeland security efforts — can as well.

Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, introduced the bill on May 13 in response to a June 2006 report from the attorney general that showed nearly 50 percent of criminal records maintained in the NCIC database failed to note court decisions to dismiss arrests.

“In the current economy, neither employers nor workers can afford employment background records that are inaccurate or incomplete,” Scott said in a statement e-mailed to Nextgov.

The legislation would give job applicants the opportunity to obtain a copy of records provided to a potential employer and challenge their accuracy and completeness. If the records are challenged, the attorney general would have 30 days to complete an investigation, make changes or deletions, and report those changes to the applicant and the employer.

More