National Criminal Database: Only the FBI Has One

fbi-logoThe idea of having access to a national criminal database is highly popular among companies screening employees, due to the high cost and amount of time it takes. Unfortunately, while there are commercial services that provide what they call a national criminal database, a true national criminal database is available only to the FBI. This is because in order to have access to all relevant criminal information across the country, you must have the right credentials and authority.

There are other issues which casts doubt on the accuracy of any database claiming to be a national criminal database (except for the FBIs). Consider these:

Data Accuracy
The accuracy of the data contained in a national criminal database is more subject to error than local database or research, simply because more people and processes have been involved in obtaining it. You should not rely on a national criminal database alone as a screening process – it at best supports other checks carried out.

Some States/Counties Don’t Sell Their Records
Some states and some counties do not sell their records to providers. This means that a service advertising itself as a national criminal database, based on the fact that it collects records across the country, does not in fact have all the records across the country. As a result, you could find yourself hiring someone who had a criminal history in one of these states or counties, but which wasn’t revealed or disclosed in the screening process.

Identify Theft Laws
New laws enacted by state legislatures to protect people from identify theft limits access to consumers’ information. Good for the consumer – more than 15 million people have been victims of identity theft – but bad for any background service provider attempting to put together a national criminal database. This means an incomplete profile of a potential hire can result.

FCRA Regulations Limits Access
Last, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (enacted in 1970), which regulates the collection and use of consumer information, in effect limits access to third party access to criminal databases. This is yet another cause for inaccuracy and incomplete data in a commercial, national criminal database.

Take a look at this simple explanation on VICTIG.com to find out more about how FBI criminal records work.

Do Trump and Clinton Pass a Social Media Background Check?

social-2016-trump-hil
Photo courtesy of futureofbusinessandtech.com

With the United States presidential election drawing nearer, candidates  have become increasingly scrutinized, including their posts on various social media outlets. A company called Social Intelligence provided background screening reports of the two major party candidates on a number of social media outlets. According to their website,”The Social Intelligence Social Media Hiring Report will supply (employers) with a fuller understanding of (the) candidate’s behavior, while protecting privacy rights. Our analysts review content for only negative behavior that covers the most dangerous workplace safety areas: Activity that is potentially unlawful, potentially violent behavior, racism and/or demonstrations of intolerance, and sexually explicit material.”

According to Alfred Ng of CNET.com, Social Intelligence finds that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton fail social media background checks. These are the areas in which the report found “hits” with each of the two major party candidates:

Donald Trump

  • Potential Racism and/or Demonstrations of Intolerance
  • Potentially Violent Behavior
  • Potential Unlawful Activity

Hillary Clinton

  • Potential Unlawful Activity
  • Potential Racism and/or Demonstrations of Intolerance

You can see the full reports of both candidates on Alfred Ng’s article.

With the tremendous growth of social media, many companies are finding it more important to look into a potential candidate’s social media behavior. According to Bianca Calhoun Lager, “The increased demand comes from what social media now means to our lives — we have accepted this medium as part of our daily lives in society,” Lager said. “No other background screening gives you behavioral data that can provide insight into workplace safety issues.”

In my opinion, social media background checks can be very subjective according to what one might believe or perceive about a person’s social media activity and behavior. However, you can’t argue that it’s not an interesting topic of discussion.

 

FCRA Protects & Informs Consumers

Information contained in our credit reports can affect or even determine our future employment, and ability to buy a house or car. Thanks to the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), legislation enacted by the federal government in 1970, consumers are provided important protections and information with regard to their credit history and information.

The FCRA regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information, with the aim of protecting accuracy, fairness, and privacy. Prior to the FCRA, consumers had little protection against inaccurate data contained in these reports, or inappropriate use of these credit reports. The FCRA protects and informs consumers in these important ways:

Full and Free Disclosure Every 12 Months
Since 2003 consumers, are allowed a full and free credit disclosure of everything in their credit report, including their credit score, every 12 months. An amendment to the FCRA in that year mandates that consumers can request a free copy of their credit report from a credit reporting agency every 12 months, either through the agencies website or other contact points, or by going to the government authorized website www.annualcreditreport.com, which makes it easier to find and dispute inaccurate information.

Outdated Negative Information Must Be Removed
The FCRA requires that negative information that is more than 7 years old be removed from one’s credit report. This is an important protection for consumers, ensuring that outdated, irrelevant information does not have any impact on their employment or credit score.

Credit Report Used Against You
If anyone – an employer or a bank, denies you something (a job or a loan) based on your consumer report, they are required by law to inform you that they did so. This is important information to have, so that you can identify the causes and try to fix them before your next interview or bank loan application.

Limit Who Can View Your Credit Report
Last, the FCRA specifies who can access your credit report, such as a potential landlord, bank or employer. The random friend, associate, or stranger can’t access your credit file just out of curiosity.

If You Want to Eat School Lunch With Your Child, Pass a Background Test

alabama-school-lunchPelham City Schools is stepping up their game when it comes to background screening. Since becoming an independent school system two years ago, Pelham schools have had an “open door” policy when it comes to visitors coming to see students during lunch. However, according to AL.com, this past summer they expanded their volunteer background screening to include parents, grandparents, or anyone else who wants to come visit a student at lunch time.

According to WBRC FOX 6 in Birmingham, those who want to visit must also pay for the 7 year criminal background check, which is $15. When asked about the reasoning for the change, Dr. Scott Coefield, Superintendent of Pelham City Schools, stated, “We have so much parental involvement that the question came up, ‘How do we know everyone in our school is safe to be around our kids?”‘

So while the goal of the change is obviously to enhance the safety of the students, the changes have been met with a bit of backlash.

According to AL.com, one parent said the change simply doesn’t make sense. She mentioned out-of-town grandparents who might come to visit for a day or two, but won’t be able to eat lunch at school with their grandchildren. This parent also brings up what I feel is a valid point. Background checks are not required for those attending school programs or other school-related activities. Is there a difference? I guess that is up to each individual to decide.

The Alabama Family Rights Association is also voicing their concern about the policy, saying, “An automatic background check without evidence of illegal activity or wrongdoing creates a poor precedent for students’ and parents’ privacy.”

One final issue that was brought up was how the new procedures would impact low-income families or certain individuals who wouldn’t want to undergo a background check based on their immigration status.

According to Coefield, the issue of low-income families had already been looked at, and the fees for the screen had already been reduced. As for the issue regarding immigration, Coefield quoted, “I don’t make a commitment to bend the rules for people who can’t get the proper documentation.”

What do you think about the change? Should similar policies be adopted in other places, or do you think it is “a bit much”.

Feel free to post any comments below.

 

What Hiring Managers Should Look For In Candidates

9d706a9ebf0fb709076299a64818d8f3When it comes to hiring new talent, finding the right person for the job can be a difficult job in itself.

Screening applicants, contacting candidates, and interviewing each candidate can quickly eat into the limited amount of hours hiring managers have to find the right candidate.

Here are a few tips to help hiring managers quickly locate the right person without having to spend hours interviewing candidates.

Education

It goes without saying, applicants with college degrees will usually find themselves ahead of applicants without a college education. Hiring managers should scan resumes for college degrees that are applicable to the position they are looking to fill.

If an employer can easily find a degree listed on a resume it helps to speed up the process of finding the right applicant. It is not always the case that the degree needs to be specific to the position what a degree does indicate is that the applicant has the ability to complete goals and work ethic to complete their degree.

 

Does the applicant have experience that relates to the position? If so what type of experience, will the employee be able to apply their experience to the position you’re looking to fill?

This is a tricky one, sometimes an applicant’s experience is a perfect fit while sometimes their experience doesn’t relate to the position but they have a work history of steady employment in various different roles and positions, which may be an indicator the applicant is versatile and could be trained quickly.

Use Social Media To Do Some Research

Taking a little time to research an applicant’s social media will help give you a good idea about potential candidates. It also gives you a little more information to help determine if the candidate is a good fit for the position you’re looking to fill.

Social media sites can help determine if a candidate uses good judgment or displays behavior that could determined to an employer’s reputation.  It can also help hiring managers to get to know the applicant before actually interviewing them.

Have Another Hiring Manager To Review Your Choices

 Invite other hiring managers to meet with you, this can prove to be extremely helpful , having other people involved will help you to improve your own interview techniques and can provide insights into candidates qualifications you may have overlooked.

Prepared Applicants

 Applicants who come prepared to a job interview show they are serious about wanting the job and will probably work hard for you if you decide to make them an offer.

If an applicant show’s up unprepared or has not done any research into the position they are applying for, it could be a signal they are not a good fit for the position. Look for candidates who have done their homework and show up prepared and have a least some understanding about the position they are applying for.

Following these tips can put you well on your way to finding the right candidate who will help you grow your business.

And Finally, Screenings

But even though all these areas are important aspects for hiring managers to look through, the most important is a good background check.

At VICTIG, we make certain that all businesses receive that most in-depth and comprehensive screenings for any potential hire.

To learn more, contact us at (866) 886-5644.

What has the SCOTUS Ruling Done for FCRA Suits?

A United States SCsupreme-court-seal-300x300OTUS ruling set the precedent for future FCRA related class action lawsuits, stating that class action suits must demonstrate proof of “concrete injury”. In ruling against Robins in the case of Spokeo Vs. Robins, the Supreme Court in effect required that those filing a lawsuit provide a much greater amount of evidence. This reduced the free for all effect of class actions suits and will likely curb the tendency of those consumers abusing the protections provided by FCRA, and the legal system, by going after cash rich companies based on bare facts, and limited evidence.

In the class action suit Spokeo vs. Robins, Virginia resident Robbins filed suit against people search engine Spokeo, claiming that Spokeo published inaccurate information about him. Robins argued that the information, presented by Spokeo, which initially seemed to present him in a positive light, misrepresented his educational and financial background, and this hurt his employment opportunities and cost him money, thus violating the FCRA statutes. The FCRA law currently provides damages of between $100 and $1,000 dollars to plaintiffs, and provisions allow for further legal action against any entity responsible for the misrepresentations.

The Supreme Court ruled against Robins, arguing that procedural violations alone without evidence of harm is insufficient justification for providing compensation. However, if that inaccurate information has valid potential to cause harm this could justify the suit. The suit thus opens up the door on the more difficult issue of defining “harm”, especially important since this is grounds for filing a class action lawsuit.

The deciding point in the case of Spokeo vs. Robbins is regarding evidence of harm. The ruling places the task of demonstrating evidence of harm more squarely on the plaintiff; pursuing confirmed damages is less difficult and takes much less time than determining whether or not violations occurred in the first place.

The SCOTUS ruling in Spokeo vs. Robbins, while requiring further clarification, has set a major precedent for rulings on future class action lawsuits involving the FCRA statutes.

Good Tenants Make Good Neighbors

tenantbackgroundcheckfunnyEvery property owner struggles with the need for getting a tenant as soon as possible, versus getting a tenant that will pay on time, be a good neighbor and not cause any problems or headaches.

The temptation to sign on a new tenant as soon as a reasonable looking person shows up is high, especially with the financial strain of meeting all the overhead and expenses of property ownership without that rental income coming in. But resist the urge to move too quickly, and bypassing the all-important background check, in order to get that rental income flowing. Consider the following before you sign that contract for what could be a very long relationship.

First and last, should you sign on a tenant that pays late, or not at all, you will back where you started, and facing the difficult, time consuming, and expensive process of evicting someone. If you screen before you sign, you will avoid this problem.

Second, should you be lucky enough to get a tenant paying on time without screening, you may be unlucky in other ways. Your new tenant may have a less than desirable life-style, that could cause your other tenants to complain and move out, living you with more units to fill, which will in turn be harder to fill with good prospects. Tenants who break too many rules or damage your property will also drain your checking account, and this could lead you down the time consuming and expensive path of eviction proceedings.

You may be aware that it is important to do background checks but have the feeling that you just don’t have the time to wait to go through all of that. If you have this mindset, try to remind yourself, as busy as you are now, how much busier and how much more time you will lose if you get that bad tenant. It’s not worth the risk.

Do keep in mind, of course, the speed of the screening service you provide. It is important to find that good tenant and get the rental money coming in in a timely way, so make sure the screening service you pick has a reputation for getting thing done in a timely, efficient way.

Last, when choosing a tenant, have a list of criteria that they must meet in order for you to consider renting to them, making sure of course that your criteria is not discriminatory.