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Why Is Background Screening Important?
By: Jennifer Deerman

What you donít know will hurt you. Thatís the motto we live by at our organization.

Background checks are extremely important and are greatly rising in popularity. Background checks can help protect your organization from theft, embezzlement, fraud, harassment (including sexual and verbal), violence, and many more crimes that could reflect negatively on your organization. A background check can also help you select the most qualified individual that meets your organizationís needs.

Many have the perceived notion that background checks are strictly restricted for employment opportunities. However, that is not the case. One may want, and would be highly advised, to run a background check on a church official, volunteer, a sports coach, a child care provider, and/or anyone that will be working with people or in your facility.

However, please note that a background check cannot be conducted without the individualís consent. The individual must sign a consent form before any backgrounds screening processes begin. Also, the individual needs to be well informed of his or her rights in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

One of the most important reasons for background checks is to protect your organization. Organizations cannot control every single action of a selected individual, which means they canít control if the selected individual chooses to commit a crime while employed, volunteering, etc.

However, the organization could be possibly held liable if the selected individual has a criminal history. For example, if you select an individual for your organization and they assault a co-worker, your organization could be held liable if the attacker had a known history of assault. It is the organizationís responsibility to be due diligent and to protect the organization to the best of its knowledge. Background checks will lower the risks of negligence and help safeguard the organization. 

There are many services offered while conducting a background check. An organization can customize its background checks based on the organizationís needs. Below are examples of services offered and recommended:

Social Security Trace
This verifies a candidateís valid Social Security Number. If the number is valid, the trace will identify the year and state in which the number was issued. The Social Security Trace will alert you if the number has not been issued, if it was used in a previously filed death claim, or if it was used with any fraudulent activity. The trace also identifies prior aliases that may have been used and provides up to three past addresses, which assists in determining which counties to search for a candidateís possible criminal record.

Credit History
We suggest Credit History Reports for employees whose actions can affect a companyís financial integrity, which includes employees in accounting functions, those who handle money, purchasing and inventory of goods. The credit history reports Quality Counts conducts are solely for employment purposes, and do not adversely affect a prospective candidateís credit report. The report includes verification of the applicantsí name, their current address and two previous addresses, current phone number, current employer, up to three previous employers, and any aliases associated with the Social Security Number. The credit summary portion of the report contains a complete file including public records, collection accounts, current or previous delinquent accounts, types of credit, total indebtedness.

Motor Vehicle Report
Motor vehicle information exposes important character issues as crimes are not solely committed where we live and work. By verifying a candidateís driving record, suspended licenses, failures to appear in court and arrest warrants can be revealed. In addition, drug and alcohol related driving offenses, such as driving under the influence and possession of drugs may serve as a warning of potential substance abuse problems and identify potential behaviors that can affect job performance and employee safety.

Criminal History
Criminal searches protect against workplace violence, and employee theft. We perform searches of current records from local County Superior and Municipal courts. Criminal searches are available nationwide. We recommend a search of all counties of residence and any aliases that are identified in an applicantís Social Security Trace. Using our large network of resources, we access the most current information available and report felony and misdemeanor convictions based on applicable federal and state law.

Sexual Offender Search
There are more than 386,000 registered sex offenders nationwide. Sexual offender registry searches are statewide searches of registered sex offender databases. We urge this search for all candidates but specifically for those candidates entering any organization that has on-site childcare or other people at high risk. We also recommend that the candidate execute a separate release form for this search.

Education Verification
Education verification is recommended for any position that requires a degree or academic credentials in order to hold the position. Statistics verify that education credentials are frequently falsified by candidates on resumes and employment applications. Education Verification will include the candidateís dates of attendance, graduation date and degree earned. Some educational institutions will report Grade Point Average.

Employment Verification
Previous Employment Verification is critical and recommended for all employees, as statistics reveal that up to 40% of applicants falsify this information to some degree. The Employment Verification reports the employerís name, applicantís title, dates of employment, salary history (upon clientís request), and rehire eligibility. Additional information may be requested at the clientís suggestion.

Reference Checks
Professional, Management and Executive and Personal Reference verification is critical in making an informed hiring selection. The Reference Verification Process will include questions that relate to the candidateís professionalism, work ethic, integrity and adaptability. Additional questions that focus on a candidateís management capabilities, planning, organizational skills and leadership ability may be included. Additionally, each client may include three questions tailored to a specific job position and hiring need.

Professional License Verification
Our reports reveal the validity of applicantsí professional licensure, date of issue, renewal and expiration dates, current status and any disciplinary action.

Organizations need to take preemptive measures and conduct background checks to better protect their integrity, employees, organizational members, customers, and to reduce their chances of being held liable for things out of their control. Always remember, what you donít know will hurt you, and itís up to your organization to thoroughly investigate a selected individual.

Jennifer Deerman is the president of Quality Counts, Inc., which provides comprehensive solutions for your hiring needs by providing employee background screening that includes accurate and up-to-date information and knowledgeable, courteous and readily available customer service, www.qualitycounts1.com.

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