The Top 5 Background Check Urban Legends

by Nick Fishman on October 5th, 2010
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When was the last time you heard these urban legends?

  • “If we eat pop rocks and then drink a coke, our stomachs will explode!”
  • “Elvis seen eating a Big Mac!”
  • “If you stretch your face out to make funny faces, it will stay that way!”

In honor of these and many more, we present the 5 urban legends of employment background checks.

1. “I hear everyone uses credit reports to make hiring decisions. I should too.”
Because the word “credit” is included in the name of the federal law that governs the background check process, clients and applicants often think a “credit check” is automatically part of it. In reality, recent research shows credit reports are ordered on only 10% to 20% of background checks. We recommend clients consult with their legal counsel to determine the necessity and job relatedness of a credit check before ordering one.

For an in-depth review of this issue, check out our most recent white paper, Credit Reports and the Hiring Process: The Value (and Risk) to HR Professionals

2. “These new database products I hear about are great!”
Employers are bombarded with offers for cheap database products that promise background check results in seconds. However, these “databases” are simply compilations of information bulk purchased from a hodgepodge of sources across the country. There is no promise they are accurate, complete or up to date. This hit and miss product is not considered a compliant product under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Employers that rely on these as the sole source of their criminal screening program expose themselves to much more risk.

However, they can serve a purpose. For more on how National Database Searches can help your screening effort, check out, Background Screening Paradigm Shift: Time to Embrace Database Search?

3. “My applicant’s data is secure. Right?”
Off shoring data to complete the background check is an emerging trend among background screeners. What does this mean? The background check you ordered may not be done by the background check company who sold you their services. Privacy laws, data protection, secure storage of personally identifiable information. The standards you wish to uphold when trying to protect your applicant’s confidential information? They may not be followed when your background check company hands the process off to someone else.

4. “I don’t bother with employment verifications. Everyone says companies don’t provide anything!”
Most clients do not order employment verifications, but you don’t know what you’ll get until you ask! EmployeeScreenIQ’s team of background specialists receives dates and title 93% of the time and gets a “full” verification 50% of the time. Dates of employment, salary, title, reason for leaving, and rehire eligibility!

5. “I called his references. He sounds great!”
This goes hand in hand with the reluctance to order employment verifications. We recommend our clients take the opposite approach. Always order employment verifications before reference interviews. It gives you more value for your money. Think of it like this. How many bad reference interviews do you see? Candidates want a job, so they will only provide references who think they’re the greatest thing since the printing press. Please let me know if you have a company full of “greatest thing since the printing press” employees. Seriously. We’re looking to hire.

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Related posts:

  1. Credit Reports and the Hiring Process
  2. Screening Your Contingent Workforce: What HR Pros Should Know
  3. New Law Prohibits Credit Checks by Most Illinois Employers
  4. 5 Ways to Accurately Check Candidate References

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