Over the last ten years, several big companies have faced costly litigation relating to background check violations. Former applicants have sued them for allegedly violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These lawsuits have exceeded a whopping $325 million, affecting not only retail giants but also online behemoths.

As recruiters, being more vigilant when conducting background checks on potential hires is imperative. Background checks can be challenging but critical in the hiring process. If done correctly, they can benefit the company due to the following reasons:

Benefits of Conducting Background Checks

●       It strengthens security and safety

Employees with a history of severe criminal offenses significantly threaten a company’s safety, security, and integrity. Running thorough background checks can prevent bad hires from creating a hostile workplace and protect your business, employees, and clients.

●       It lowers the employee turnover rates

Hiring employees who aren’t suitable for the job can lead to wasted resources anSad energy. By running background checks, you can eliminate unsuitable candidates and concentrate on hiring the ideal candidate for the job, resulting in lower turnover rates.

●       It improves the quality of hired employees

Studies show that they exaggerate the credentials on their resumes, with some even lying or omitting information altogether. By conducting background checks, you can filter out candidates who provide fraudulent information and focus on those who present themselves with integrity. It leads to better hires, boosting your company’s operations and overall performance.

Importance of Conducting Background Checks

A background check is like a deep dive into an applicant’s history. It covers their criminal, employment, financial, and commercial records and can help you make smarter hiring choices.

Before making a job offer, background checks can identify red flags early on and avoid potential issues, such as increased turnover rates or legal disputes. Delaying background checks until after hiring is risky and can lead to hiring unsuitable candidates. Some organizations outsource background checks to professional screening companies specializing in this area.

How to Conduct Background Checks

Running background checks is crucial in hiring the best candidates for your company. However, applying best practices to prevent possible lawsuits and complaints is equally important. Here are some tips to help you:

1.      Partner With a Reputable Background Screening Company

When performing background checks on potential hires, following legal procedures and guidelines is essential to avoid lawsuits and complaints.

It’s vital to choose a screening company that you can trust to do a thorough and reliable job. Look for a company accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA),  as this will give you peace of mind that they adhere to high standards of excellence. These organizations went through a rigorous yearlong auditing process to ensure they’re adept in the following areas:

  • Legal and Compliance
  • Information security
  • Verification services
  • Researcher and data standards
  • Business practices
  • Verification services

2.      Validate Social Security Information and Address History

A legitimate social security number must match the name, address history, and birthdate on record. By conducting this inquiry, you can reveal any other aliases or unknown locations where an applicant may have resided. This process can help you discover criminal records under the applicant’s other names or addresses.

Investigating an applicant’s past residences can expose jurisdictions where you must dig deeper. It’ll allow you to discover undisclosed former jobs, violations, or civil cases that may affect their suitability. While this information may not necessarily mean the person is unhirable, verifying social security information can help you make an informed hiring decision and ensure peace of mind.

3.       Check for Criminal History

Recruiters are responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees and customers, and part of that responsibility involves checking an applicant’s criminal record. Negligent hiring can result in serious legal consequences for companies. By failing to investigate criminal records, the organization can be held liable for any harm an employee causes to their coworkers or company property.

Aside from the legal implications, running a criminal background check can also help ensure your employees’ safety. It can reveal an applicant’s violent tendencies or unsuitability for the work environment and job description.

However, it’s important to understand the current practices and guidelines created by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before undertaking a criminal background check. Violating these guidelines can result in legal issues, such as asking for criminal history on an application form.

Hiring a reputable background check organization is best to ensure compliance with EEOC guidelines and avoid lawsuits. It can spare you the hassle and possible legal consequences of doing a criminal background check on your own.

4.      Conduct a Sex Offender and Us Terror Watch List Screening

During the background check process, recruiters should note that searching the US terror watch list for security, technology, or public sector roles is crucial. This list identifies individuals who are members of terrorist organizations, drug traffickers, and those under international watchlists.

In addition, it’s essential to include a sex offender registry investigation, particularly for positions of trust such as teachers, medical personnel, and childcare staff. This thorough check ensures that you’re hiring individuals with clean records and reduces the risk of potential legal and reputational liabilities for your organization.

5.      Ensure FCRA Compliance

Recruiters should know that a comprehensive background check must include checking applicants’ credit information. It can help mitigate the risk of fraud or theft in the workplace. However, it’s necessary to follow the FCRA guidelines to avoid any legal issues.

Moreover, knowing the state and regional laws concerning credit history checking is important. Colorado and California are some states that prohibit companies from using credit information in their hiring process. As a hiring manager, familiarize yourself with the laws in your area to avoid any violations.

Consider the Background Check Essentials

As a recruiter, it’s crucial to prioritize the safety and integrity of your company and employees. Conducting background checks on applicants can help you verify their qualifications and avoid potential risks, especially in the era of remote work.

To streamline the process, limit the background check to only what is necessary for the job. For example, checking an applicant’s credit history may not be needed for certain roles.

Compliance with national, state, and county laws is vital in completing background checks to avoid lawsuits. Consider working with an accredited background check provider for informed hiring decisions that align with your company’s values and needs.

Sarah Rocio

Sarah is an aspiring content writer. Her interest in startup stories led her to begin writing articles centered on helping small businesses and employees. Seeing her name on a lot of websites as a contributing author drives her passion for becoming an expert in her field — journalism. Her favorite time of the day is the early morning when she can journal in silence while enjoying a cup of coffee.