Background Check Guidelines for Current and Future Employees

The risk to your company increases as the level of access your new hire will have to company assets increases. For example, if the job description includes the handling of blank company checks, it may be wise to run a criminal and credit check on anyone you consider hiring for the position.

Consider how much access a potential employee will have to sensitive information within your organization. Some companies may even find it prudent to run background checks on current employees when making internal hires or promotions, or run them routinely for certain positions.

Whatever the reason for running the check, it is important to have clear policies in place before beginning the background check process in order to comply with federal regulations. Mitigate risk by delineating and following a few important guidelines as you write and revise your background check policy*:

  • List the roles within the company that will require background checks
  • Include contact and website information for the vendor who will be running the background checks
  • Include a schedule for when routine checks will take place
  • Include info on applicable state and federal compliance considerations
  • List procedural instructions for HR personnel to follow when obtaining background checks

It’s important to remember that government-funded agencies may be required to make a copy of the finalized policy publicly available.

Job descriptions should clearly indicate what information will be obtained in the hiring process, as different positions within the company may call for a background check with unique specifications. For routine checks, present employees should be informed as what to expect and given the opportunity to agree.

When bringing new people on board in your organization, there is a level of risk that is unavoidable. However, though unavoidable, this level of risk is not impossible to minimize.

In the end, any position at any company holds a level of risk. From entry level positions to executives, you grant access to various, and important pieces of your company. Though it may be less thorough for an entry level position, a background check can save time, money, and many headaches.

How to Cut Costs with Customized Background Checks

For every comprehensive background check, there is a list of necessary verifications to complete. While other companies will charge you for attempted verifications that are never completed, VICTIG’s process is fitted precisely to your needs—and that includes paying only for the verifications we complete.

This customization extends to the questions our verifiers ask on your behalf. While our job is to ensure that each question is compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, protecting you from liability, we are also here to help you customize a suite of questions tailored to determine the unique qualifications of your ideal candidate. Ultimately, this customization with save you money by:

  • charging only for completed verifications
  • reducing turnover rate
  • improving employee retention
  • taking the hassle of the entire screening process out of your hands

Whether you’re an employer, property manager, or real estate agent, either you’ve personally experienced the hassle of conducting thorough employee screenings, you’ve delegated the responsibility to someone on staff, or you’ve outsourced the whole endeavor. You know that it takes time and persistence to make those calls and reach the appropriate parties to verify a candidate’s past. Doing all this in a timely matter takes technique, efficient processes, and experience—and VICTIG has all of the above.

Our Proven Methods

In addition to the unique advantage of customization, VICTIG utilizes Hotline MP3 Verification and a Pool System to eliminate the setbacks of traditional, inefficient verification processes.

Hotline MP3 Verification

This feature solves the dreaded “phone tag” dilemma. We don’t leave basic “callback messages.” Instead, our messages instruct the verification contact to call a specific, customized verification hotline open 24/7 and leave the verification information in a recording. The recording is converted to MP3 format, attached to your report and transcribed. This allows you to hear the answers to your custom questions for yourself if you choose, and to keep an audio record of the verification.

Pool System

The Pool System distributes verification responsibility across a team as opposed to assigning a single verifier as a contact. This erases the issue of delayed verifications in the event that a verifier is temporarily unavailable. Instead, VICTIG’s Pool System allows your verifications to be processed collaboratively in a team, ensuring the quickest turnaround times possible.

By streamlining a verification process that cuts out the inefficiencies of traditional screening practices, VICTIG creates a value-added service your organization needs in order to cut costs while building and retaining a quality team.

The Value of a Comprehensive Background Check

Good things come to those who don’t cut corners and that includes employers looking to save money and time in their employee screening practices. In the age of Google, when the answers to life’s limitless questions are only a few keystrokes away, it’s become even more tempting than before to opt for speed over accuracy. But a thorough investigation of any topic, including the eligibility of potential hires, takes time. The potential savings and security for your company are worth the added effort of performing comprehensive background checks that include piece-meal searches of each critical area of a background check. A comprehensive background check that includes each of these pieces should take about a day to complete on average, but it’s worth the assurance that you’ve brought the best people onboard with your company.

Quick and Lengthy Searches

It won’t take long to look up a candidate’s driving record, but searches that will require a longer investment of time will include investigations of:

  • professional and personal references
  • education history
  • criminal records
  • sex-offender registries
  • licensing and certification claims, etc.

Time is Money

We know you want answers fast, so despite the time-commitment of a comprehensive background search, we work toward executing quick turnaround times to help you make your hiring decisions sooner rather than later. After all, you’ve invested enough already in recruiting your ideal candidate.

We help you make the best decision as efficiently and ethically as possible, keeping complete compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Have complete confidence in your hiring decisions. Invest in a comprehensive background check today.

How to Reduce Turnover with Good Background Checks

Reducing liability for your organization is not the only reason to invest in employee screening and background checks. It is also a strategy for shrinking costly and inefficient turnover rates. All good employers know that if they can find the right person for a position on the first attempt—and keep them—the expense of onboarding that individual was money well spent. With a good background check, you can:

  • become aware of the candidate’s lack of qualifications, education, and training before a hiring decision is made
  • learn a
    bout the candidate’s past history with employers, including their termination history
  • learn positive things about the candidate that will increase the chances of retention
  • circumvent instances of workplace fraud, theft, and violence

A good hire is a win for your company’s overall efficiency—infrastructural, economical, and procedural. A solid retention rate represents a wealth of savings that is estimated to be more than double the salary for the position in question—which is what you’ll pay to scout, vet, and secure a new hire for the vacated position.

Job-seekers are becoming desperate in today’s economy and are more liable than ever to destroy the truth on their resumes, applications, and cover letters. Background checks are part of a crucial verification process that includes a thorough investigation of all the candidate’s claims, revealing such important issues as:

  • workplace violence
  • identity theft
  • fraud and misrepresentation
  • breaches of confidentiality agreements

Start making smart hiring choices today by investing in solid employee screening practices. You will drastically reduce turnover while retaining the best of your organization. Background checks will reduce your overhead, promote overall workplace security, and incentivize the productivity of your workers.

Background Screening for Massage Therapists

According to KSHB 41 in Kansas City, Missouri, a Northland massage therapist was recently accused of inappropriately touching a client. Clay County, Missouri prosecutors have charged Richard Wall with second degree sodomy. The victim told police that the assault happened on October 1, 2015. Wall’s bail is set at $25,000, and if convicted, he could spend up to seven years in prison.

Massage Heights, where the alleged event occurred, issued a statement saying:

“We were appalled to hear of the allegations of sexual misconduct of one of our massage therapists. Massage Heights Franchising has a zero tolerance policy against inappropriate behavior, including sexual misconduct, and upon learning of the allegations the local franchisee immediately terminated the massage therapist’s employment. Franchisees are encouraged to conduct background and reference checks prior to hiring all licensed massage therapists. This employee was licensed by the state of Missouri, which requires thorough criminal background checks of all massage therapists before issuing and renewing licenses. The local franchisee is fully cooperating with authorities in the investigation. Massage Heights Franchising is dedicated to the well-being of the thousands of members and guests our franchisees serve, and these policies are designed to create a safe and secure environment in each and every retreat.”

In most states, strict policies are already in place. Other states continue to tighten up their laws.

In Minnesota, the state is attempting to establish a statewide registry that would call for voluntary registration from massage therapists. According to KARE NBC in Minnesota, “In order to register massage therapists must pass a criminal background check, have a high school diploma, and complete at least 500 hours of education in massage and body work. Those convicted of certain crimes like prostitution and human trafficking would not be allowed to register.” Many massage therapists in the Gopher State feel that current requirements are sufficient.

In Boise, Idaho, legislation has been introduced in the current legislative session that would require message therapists in the state of Idaho to undergo criminal background checks. According to Mitch Toryanski who is with the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses, “Idaho law does not require a fingerprint-based background check to receive a massage therapist license. The background check requirement will cost applicants an additional $37 on top of other licensure fees.” Idaho currently has more than 2,100 licensed massage therapists.

Why Careless Background Checks Will Cost You

Photo courtesy of Amtec.us
Photo courtesy of Amtec.us

Unfortunately, it’s not rare to hear horror stories involving bad hires, but what about horror stories involving bad background checks? Here’s what can happen when the background check you run on an employee returns the wrong results. That’s what happened with The Vanguard Group, an investment firm in Pennsylvania, when a routine background check returned the information that one of their brokers had plead guilty to loan and credit card fraud. He was fired on the spot.

The problem? The background check had tagged the wrong James. R. Gorman. The innocent Gorman had an entirely different SSN, birthdate, and address, but by the time he had challenged the error successfully, it was too late. He felt his career had been impacted. So he sued, costing the investment firm an undisclosed amount in reparations.

Vanguard was a large, established organization. This type of error should have been impossible, one my might think. So how do you avoid this same mistake? First, remember that the margin of error in background checks is as sensitive as a misplaced digit, but by following the correct steps, you can avoid costly mistakes.

These mistakes include:

  • Relying primarily on the Internet as a source. Remember that information on the Internet is easily manipulated.
  • Making decisions based on social networking sites.
  • Leaning too heavily on a subject’s personal references (often called character references).
  • Relying on previous employers’ due diligence. (Assuming they’ve done background checks and found the subject eligible.)

While these methods can inform certain aspects of your candidate’s personality and online persona, it will not provide you with concrete data about their eligibility. In fact, it can even introduce liability in the form of perceived discrimination if you let the information garnered on social media sites involving political or sexual orientation, even marital status, influence your decision. It’s best to invest in a thorough screening process that cross-checks its findings, especially in the case of negative results. By doing so you can rest assured that you’re making the best hiring decisions possible for the future success and longevity of your company.

Animal Shelters in Michigan Authorized to Perform Background Checks

pets-lineup-lgAccording to ABC 12 News in Lansing, Michigan, Lt. Governor Brian Calley recently signed a bill, known as Logan’s Law, that will allow Michigan animal shelters to perform background checks on those interested in adopting pets from Michigan shelters. The reason for the checks is to determine if the candidates have any past history of animal abuse.

Edith Campbell, Program Coordinator of Pets In Peril, hopes that this will help animals being placed in the wrong hands. She explained, “If we did more of that – Some people don’t like it that are adopting – oh you’re being too fussy, but …. We’ve gotta make it last. We don’t want the dog to come back and we don’t want it to have any more suffering that he had in the background. So it’s not gonna totally do it, but it’s gonna help if everybody did it.”

ABC 12 goes on to explain that according to the bill, animal shelters will be authorized, but not required, to perform background checks on potential animal adopters. Initially, the bill suggested that criminal background checks be mandatory, but later that was changed to voluntary.

Finally, the bill also allows a state agency to write rules establishing minimum standards for large-scale dog breeding kennels and the housing, care and handling of animals. People will not be able to operate a large-scale dog breeding kennel unless they register the business by paying the state $500 annually.

The idea of having an animal abuser registry list started after an attack on a Siberian husky named Logan. The attack happened on March 12, 2012. For more on Logan’s story and how the idea of the bill came to be, visit the article at UpNorthLive.com.

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Tenant Screening Secrets: 3 Keys to Closing

banner_landlord_tenantIn a previous post, we covered two keys to making the most of your initial introduction to a tenant. The tenant screening process begins even before your first meeting and continues when you first meet the tenant to show the property. It is important to take the insights you learned in this opening stage with you as you move on to closing on a lease.

Remember these three keys to securing the ideal tenant: someone who pays on time, cares for the property, and keeps the terms of your agreement.

KEY 1: Invest in the Time it Takes to Create a QUALITY Rental Application

Take the time to create a thorough and comprehensive rental application that includes the provision of a screening fee. It is entirely appropriate to collect a screening fee at the application stage in order to fund the expense of running a background and credit check on the tenant (which you should ALWAYS do). In fact, requiring a screening fee is a vetting process all on its own, as those who are not serious about your property or know that they will not pass a background or credit check will likely not agree to pay it or sign the waiver.

When you have the results and notice anything amiss, note if they were upfront about any concerns that might appear, and then ask them about it. Let them know that you did in fact run a check, and that you reviewed it. This will communicate to them your dedication and professionalism.

After you’ve received the results of the background and credit checks, if you’re satisfied, move on to the next “key.”

KEY 2: Have a Choreographed Approval Process

What does it mean to “choreograph” your approval process? It means that your process is so regimented and rehearsed that no critical item will slip through the cracks. If you feel good about a prospective tenant, congratulate them for being approved, and then give them instructions on the date, time, and place for the lease signing. Communicate to the exact cent the closing costs and how they should be paid (cashier’s check, cash, etc.). If your tenant is diligent in following these instructions to the letter, it is a good sign that they will be diligent in other areas as well.

KEY 3: Like the Rental Application, Invest in QUALITY with Your Lease Agreement

It is a shocking fact how many rental leases are signed without a thorough understanding of what is in them. More than even the tenant, the landlord should know the details of the lease agreement like the back of his or her hand.

At the time of signing the lease, go through each section with the tenant all the way to the end, even having them initial next to the most critical bits of information (rent amount, due date, etc.). At this point of the process, even though the background checks have gone through, it is important to remember that the lease still hasn’t been signed. You can still back out if at any point the tenant exhibits concerns or behaviors that do not bode well for your future together. For example, if they are unhappy with your grace period (or lack of) or the amount of late charges. If you’re not willing to budge, don’t, and keep looking.

Tenant Screening Secrets: 2 Keys to a Profitable Introduction

tenant-checkLandlords, real estate agents, and property managers all know that when it comes to filling vacancies, they must not allow the pressure to find tenants overshadow the importance of choosing wisely. Troublesome tenants represent an unknowable loss of revenue not only in the form of unpaid rent or property damage, but in the time spent putting out those metaphorical fires.

Choosing a tenant comes with an unavoidable degree of risk, but it’s possible to take a risk that’s calculated for success. Keep in mind these two crucial keys to making the most of the moment you’re first introduced to your prospects.

KEY 1: Have a Pre-screening Protocol

No matter the way you advertise your vacancies, whether it’s online or in the newspaper, it is unlikely that your first point of contact with a potential tenant will be in person, so your screening process will begin before you ever meet. To ensure the best use of your time, provide a way for your tenants to answer qualifying questions either upfront (over the phone) or before you ever speak (via an online form).

However you decide to do it, the questions should be basic, but targeted to weed out unqualified individuals. Here are some examples:

  • Able to pay upfront rent and security deposit of [amount]
  • Reason for moving
  • Intended rental term
  • Pets Y/N
  • Credit: Excellent/Fair/Average/Poor (You will verify this later)
  • Number of occupants and relationship to you
  • Intended occupancy date
  • Smoking Y/N
  • Able to provide a landlord reference

If you’re satisfied with the prospect’s responses, move on to the next stage: meeting in person.

KEY 2: Know What You’re Looking for When You Meet in Person

When it’s time to show the property, always remember that it’s not only the property that should be “presentation ready.” The tenant’s appearance and behavior is also being inspected.

In this step, you’re looking for those telltale signs that hint that a tenant may not be an ideal fit, or even a tolerable one. Ask yourself these questions and make mental notes:

  1. Are they trying to make a good impression? Are they neat and clean?
  2. Does their car look as well (or as poorly) kept as their appearance?
  3. Are they respectful? Are they conscious of the cleanliness of their shoes before stepping inside? Did they arrive smoking or walk into the property while smoking?
  4. When or if they are critical of the property, are their comments or questions legitimate, or do they seem to be nitpicking in the hopes of talking you down in price?
  5. Are they ready to make a decision in the moment, or do they request some time to think about it?

How the prospect presents themselves upon your first meeting is a valid indicator of how they will care for the property after the signing of the lease. Of course, this is only half of the tenant screening process. Remember what you’ve learned in this stage as you move onto the next: processing the application, running a background check, and then signing the lease.