CNN Reports About Inaccurate Background Checks
October 5, 2009
I was watching CNN on Saturday morning and was disturbed this story about inaccurate background checks. Reporter Gerry Willis interviewed a woman whose husband failed to get a job because the employer relied upon a background check that revealed he had multiple criminal convictions. In fact, someone with the same name was convicted of the felonies identified in the background check. It just wasn’t the person being considered for this job. The story, of course portrayed the background screening industry in a negative light. This was made worse by a follow up interview CNN did with a privacy expert that suggested that the entire industry was flawed.
It’s hard to argue with the story or the privacy advocate. However, he painted with too broad a brush. The company that provided the background check followed a practice called Contemporaneous Notice which allows them to report all findings without confirming verifying the information. They then have to send a letter to the subject of the report showing what they found and letting them know that the can dispute the findings. By that time, the cat is out of the bag and the employer has probably decided on another candidate. EmployeeScreenIQ strongly opposes this practice, as do a number of our colleagues in this industry. Practically, every time you see a story about job candidates getting deterred from jobs because their background check was inaccurate, it revolves around Contemporaneous Notice.
There is a better way to protect consumers and ensure that employers are relying on accurate information. We have been doing it for years. Rather than just reported the information that is fed to us, we confirm all convictions BEFORE they are reported to the client. We confirm the identifiers that allows us to ensure that the information we provide belongs to the subject of our report. Those identifiers include a match of the name, date of birth, social security number (when available) and address.?? If we can’t confirm this information, we don’t report it.
Companies engage in Contemporaneous Notice because it saves them time and money. Rather than taking the time to confirm the information, they simply report it and worry about it later. Unfortunately, when things don’t go as planned, it casts a negative light on all of us.