Data Privacy

FCRA Class Action Targets LinkedIn


Have you ever used LinkedIn to check up on someone? An employee or a prospective new hire? Of course you have–who hasn’t? And while I’ve never actually given the “recommendations” on LinkedIn much weight, I’ve often wondered whether employers actually rely on them to make a hiring decision. Social media sites have given us a whole new window through which to view candidates—both professionally and personally. (more…)

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3 Strategies to Promote Workplace Re-Entry for Ex-Offenders

For quite some time now, I’ve felt the organizations that support the formerly incarcerated have done a disservice to ex-offenders when it comes to their stance on employment background checks.  Rather than educating ex-offenders about the reality of criminal background checks and how to prepare for the tough questions from employers that are sure to come and educating employers about the benefits of hiring ex-offenders, organizations such as The National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) have spent far too much time focusing on what they can do to eliminate the practice altogether.

In doing so, they continually point to statistics that they should know are misleading.  The best example of this is NELP’s assertion that the 65 million Americans with criminal records are unemployable due to their convictions.  If this were true, employers wouldn’t be able to hire anyone.  EmployeeScreenIQ data shows that less than 10% of those with criminal records are actually eliminated from employment when a background check reveals a conviction.  Based on our experience, the number of unemployed ex-offenders is widely exaggerated.

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Senate Committee Brings Data Brokers Into the Light

Data Brokers

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) blasted data brokers in a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing held on December 18, 2013. Witnesses were questioned on the practices of data brokers as the committee explored the need for more oversight, including new laws to govern and regulate the activity of businesses that aggregate and sell information about consumers for marketing purposes. The hearing followed the release of a scathing report by the committee’s Office of Oversight and Investigation.

The report, which can be found here, reaches a troubling conclusion that data brokers operate under a veil of secrecy, collecting large volumes of detailed information about hundreds of millions of consumers, identifying those who may be financially vulnerable, and allowing businesses to target products and services through tailored outreach both off and online.

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No Background Checks Required for ObamaCare Reps: Really?

In these days of rampant identity theft people are pretty skeptical about giving out any personally identifiable information (PII).   So you can only imagine how skittish they might be about sharing the holy grail of PII (name, social security number, date of birth and address) with a total stranger.  Now, throw in your complete medical history.  Wouldn’t you expect that the people who are paid to collect that information would be subject to a comprehensive employment background check by their company before they were granted access to such data?

What if I told you that there was a company that employed thousands of people that collected this information but didn’t think it was necessary to conduct background checks?  You might think twice about giving them that information. Most likely, if you knew that they weren’t properly screened, you would just move on to the next company.

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Ask Angela: Who Should Have Access to Background Check Results?

Compliance in Employment Background Checks

You asked for it–you got it!  “Ask Angela” is your chance to ask those nagging compliance questions that keep you up at night and have you scratching your head. Thanks for all of your great questions—keep ‘em coming! This month the question relates to who is able to obtain a copy of an employment background check. The Question

Dear Angela,

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Keeping Tabs on Big Data to Protect Consumer Privacy

Big Data

The scrutiny of big data continues. On August 15, the FTC announced a $3.5M settlement with Cetergy Check Services, Inc.  The FTC’s complaint alleged, among other things, that Cetergy did not follow proper dispute procedures and failed to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information it provided to its merchant clients, as required by the FCRA.

Cetergy sells information to companies so that retailers and other businesses can make decisions about a consumer’s ability to get credit and pay for goods and services by check. The FTC claimed that Cetergy:

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Technology Challenges & Changes in Employment Background Checks

In addition to EmployeeScreenIQ’s Quick Takes Video Series, we filmed footage of our panelists discussing the latest trends in the industry. We’re calling this additional footage our “roundtable” videos, all of which are currently available by visiting our EmployeeScreenIQ Video Library. You can subscribe to our YouTube Channel for even more videos.

Technology improves and changes so rapidly every day, it’s nearly impossible for any single person or company to keep up. In human resources, it seems there are new technologies daily vying for your attention, with possibly little time to stay on top of everything. More importantly, there are changes in technology related to employment background checks that employers should be aware of in order to keep background screening programs in line with the law.

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Should Employers Ask Candidates for Facebook Passwords in a Background Check?

Social Media Employment Background Checks

The U.S. Congress recently passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which helps individuals protect their right to privacy and prohibits an employer from impersonating an employee online when other employees are interacting across social media platforms.  Removed from this bill at the last minute was a provision that would have banned employers from asking job candidates and employees for their social media passwords. Given the public sentiment on this issue, not to mention the media outcry, this omission is a big surprise to me.  Kudos to Congress for not caving to public pressure on this one.

Let’s get this out of the way.  I think that asking candidates or employees for their social media passwords for employment background screening purposes (or any other reason), is a bad idea for nearly all employers and infringes on a person’s right to privacy.   I think it’s a bad business practice and would dissuade people from wanting to work for a company that engaged in this practice.

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Survey Says: Why Doesn’t HR Believe in Social Media Employment Background Checks?

Social Media Employment Background Check

Last month, we released our official 2013 Employment Background Check Trends Survey report.  The report includes findings from nearly 1,000 Human Resources professionals in various industries across the United States, who responded to our survey on background checks for employment at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.

One of the findings highlighted employers’ use of social media employment background checks to determine hiring eligibility (those statistics are listed below for your review).

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Have You Ever Been Committed? Gun Ownership v. Employment Background Checks

Employment Background Checks

Over the past couple months, we’ve blogged about the differences between the universal background checks used for gun purchases and those used for employment background checks.  As the U.S. Senate closes in on a deal to mandate universal background checks on people who purchase guns, we thought we would highlight another key difference: the use of mental health records.

Mental health background checks are a key component of current federal law regarding gun ownership and one we are sure will be expanded. The Huffington Post’s Josh Horowitz outlines the government’s current requirements below:

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