How’s That $5 Background Check Treating You? At Least You Didn’t Get Locked Out.

Nick Fishman

Cheap Employment Background Checks, Employee Theft

I have an embarrassing personal story to share with you.  In 1997, my wife and I moved into a new high-rise condo which towered over Rush Street in the Gold Coast-area of Chicago.  We were on the 22nd floor and it’s a good thing; the street noise was crazy-loud.  Shortly after we bought the place, but before we moved in, I decided that I wasn’t going to pay a locksmith to change the locks.  I had changed locks before and scoffed at the idea of paying someone $150 to do what amounted to a 15 minute job.

So on a random weeknight, I went up to our still vacant condo without a cell phone or land line and proceeded to install a new lock.  I took out the old door handle and inserted the new one into the outside of the door.  I installed the bolt.  I then put the unused part of the handle on the floor outside and walked into condo.  And that’s when it happen.  The door which was on a spring, closed behind me.  Oh Schnap!

I actually locked myself in the unit and because I didn’t have a phone, I had no way of getting out.  After banging on the door for about an hour, one of my new neighbors alerted the building’s superintendent who had to break down the door to get me out.  It was around 11:30 at night by then.  Welcome to the neighborhood!

Here’s the kicker:  that door was made of some super-reinforced wood which was treated for fire protection and cost $800 to replace.  Glad I decided to save myself $150.

If only I could have swallowed my pride and shared that story with the world, perhaps I could have prevented a healthcare school in Athens, Georgia from purchasing a cheap internet employment background check on one of their new employees.  In this case, the results of the criminal background check came back clear- No Record Found.  Awesome, right?

This quote tells you all you need to know about the employee background check program that was in place.

“Like many employers, New Horizons hired a company they found on the Internet to conduct background checks on job applicants.”

Unfortunately, the school learned a tough lesson as I did.  You get what you pay for (in my case, you get what you don’t pay for but close enough).  The new employee stole at least $55,000 from the unsuspecting company.  Once they discovered that they had fallen victim to this employee, they conducted a more thorough background check and guess what?  She was on parole for embezzling $250,000 from two other local area medical practices.  The background check they purchased didn’t even include a local record search.

So this new business was either cheap or the didn’t have the tools necessary to make an informed decision about what constituted an effective employment background check.  Either way, this is a lesson that everyone should be happy to learn on some else’s dime.

For those interested in learning more about how to select a reputable background screening company, check out our latest article “HR’s Guide to Effective Evaluation of Background Screening Providers”.

You know, there’s one good thing about this cautionary tale.  Now, I don’t feel so bad about having to buy an $800 door.  That’s nothing compared to losing $55 grand.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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  • I think in most things “you get what you pay for”, and why would background check services be any different? Thanks for a great perspective ~ btw…I applaud you for sharing your personal story! 😉