Identity Theft and Privacy Concerns
January 3, 2008
Identity Theft and Privacy Concerns
Regarding Pre-Employment Screening
It is predicted that five percent of U.S. adults will be victimized by identity theft in 2005, up from 3.5 percent in 2003.1 Awareness of identity theft has been steadily increasing for several years, and has risen dramatically in recent months as some very large and well known companies have reluctantly admitted security breaches. Criminals gained fraudulent access to the massive proprietary databases of consumer data maintained by these companies by posing as legitimate businesses. The due diligence processes utilized by these companies failed to identify them as security threats, and they obtained personal information of untold thousands of individuals nationwide.
If you’ve got it, you shouldn’t always flaunt it
Consumer data is extremely valuable information and with a big enough database, its uses are virtually unlimited. Unfortunately, its abuses are virtually unlimited as well. Companies that maintain these databases have strong incentives to continually identify new uses and users of the information, some of which are more heavily regulated than others. Without proper credentialing of users, it becomes only a matter of time before the proverbial “bull in a china shop” is unleashed. To complicate matters further, experts have speculated that it is likely that similar breaches have occurred unexposed in the past. On the victim’s side, because identity theft can go undetected for months, the full extent and consequences of these breaches may never be known.
The real world is our stage
As a Consumer Reporting Agency, EmployeeScreen IQ competes directly with many companies that maintain “proprietary databases” of consumer information, including those that have been in the news recently. A key distinction is that EmployeeScreen IQ does not maintain any “proprietary database” of consumer data. We go directly to the public record source for every background check we perform, be it county courthouses, credit bureaus, previous employers, degree-granting institutions, or one of many other sources. Conducting primary research every time ensures that the information we provide to our clients is current, complete, and will stand up to scrutiny if challenged.
Respect for all trades, but master of only one
Another important distinction is that EmployeeScreen IQ focuses solely on pre-employment screening. We do not collect and store mountains of disparate data, and constantly search for new ways to leverage it. We maintain strict compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and any personal identifying information is provided to us with written permission from the individual him/herself. We maintain archives of our completed Consumer Reports indefinitely, for the convenience of our clients. We do not market, sell, or grant access to these archives to anyone except the client that purchased the original Consumer Report on that individual. While we may reference a previous report if we run a search on the same person in the future, we will not report adverse information from the original report until we have re-verified, at the public record source, that the information is still current and accurate.
It’s okay to look at the forest, but only if you look at the trees first
EmployeeScreen IQ does provide access to statewide and nationwide criminal database resources for our clients that would like to cover extra ground in addition to a County Criminal Record Search based on a SSN Trace address history. These database searches are only sold with a clear understanding that they simply do not cover the full territory they imply, and with the requirement that any “hit” must be authenticated at the county court level to ensure FCRA compliance.
EmployeeScreen IQ commitment
Our clients understand that EmployeeScreen IQ places the highest priority on data security and protection of individual privacy rights. We will not compromise our position as a best-practices industry leader by abandoning our responsibilities to protect the rights of those we gather information on and to conduct thorough due diligence on those we provide information to.
Click here for a summary of EmployeeScreen IQ’s Data Security and Privacy Protection Policies.
1A. Litan, Gartner, “Beating Down the Crooks: Fighting Identity Theft and Consumer Fraud,” IT Security Summit, 7-9 June 2004.
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