Identifiers Make or Break an Effective Background Check
April 27, 2006
A recent press release by the Department of Homeland Security substantiates my assertion that an effective background check cannot be executed without proper identifiers. This release announces DHS’ plans to perform a name only background check on 400,000 US port workers in an effort to weed out potential terrorists. They point blank concede that the name only search will not reveal a detailed criminal history on employees. It will simply cross reference the names of these employees against known terrorist watch lists.
A relatively new trend among employers is their desire not to provide their applicant’s date of birth on the applicant consent forms used to conduct background checks. Yes, employers must ensure not to ask for date of birth on a job application or factor age into a hiring decision. However, it is entirely permissible to have the applicant include this vital information on the release. Without a DOB, the employer has already tainted the information that can be found or reported.
CRA’s are obliged to report criminal convictions only when there are sufficient identifiers to substantiate that the subject of the investigation is the actual offender. The first step is to match the name. What used to be the next step, but is widely now being withheld is the Social Security Number. The next best identifier to the SSN match is the DOB. If you don’t have it, and the conviction cannot be authenticated, I cannot and should not be reported. Further limiting those searches without the DOB is the fact that many court systems now require it in order to extract any information.
In summation, most employers do not have the worry that they are hiring terrorists. They conduct background checks to limit risk in the workplace. Failure to provide the requisite identifiers will taint any process to do so.