Background check

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The following is a quote from a wikipedia article which I found to be very intresting.

A background check or background investigation is the process of looking up official and commercial records about a person. A lot of companies use CRB Direct to perform their background checks. It was often done when someone applies for a job but mostly for those that requires high security or position of trust like a school, hospital, bank, airport, in law enforcement, etc. Visit for more legal advice. It is traditionally done by the police but is now most often purchased as a service from a private business. Information usually includes the following: past employment, credit worthiness, and criminal history. These checks are important because they allow better informed and less-subjective evaluations to be made about a person. However, they also pose risks including improper and illegal discrimination, identity theft, and violation of privacy.

Pre-employment screening in UK

Pre employment screening is used to verify the accuracy of an applicant’s claims as well as to discover any possible criminal history, workers compensation claims, or employer sanctions.

The problem screening tries to counter

A number of annual reports, including BDO Hayward’s Fraudtrack 4, and CIFAS’s (the UK’s fraud prevention service) ‘The Enemy Within’ have showed a rising level of major discrepancies and embellishments on CVs over previous years.Such business fraud cost UK businesses 1.4 bn in 2005.

Almost half (48%) of organizations with fewer than 100 staff experienced problems with vetted employees.

39% of UK organizations have experienced a situation where their vetting procedures have allowed an employee to be hired who was later found to have lied or misrepresented themselves in their application.

However, recent research by Powerchex shows a reverse in the trend. They found that in the 2006/7 period CV discrepancies had fallen by 31% to 13%.

The Market

Larger companies are more likely to outsource than their smaller counterparts – the average staff size of the companies who outsource is 3,313 compared to 2,162 for those who carry out in-house checks.

Financial services firms had the highest proportion of respondents who outsource the service, with over a quarter (26%) doing so, compared to an overall average of 16% who outsource vetting to a third party provider.

The construction and property industry showed the lowest level of outsourcing, with 89% of such firms in the sample carrying out checks in-house. there for making the overall average 16%. This can increase over the years.

Types of Checks

* Employment References

* Education Verification – School grades, degree and any professional qualifications obtained

* Character Reference Check

* Gaps in employment history

* Identity and Address Verification – whether the applicant is who he or she claims to be. Generally includes verification of the candidate’s present and previous addresses. Can include a money laundering, identity and terrorist check and one to verify the validity of passports (UK and international).

* Whether an applicant holds a directorship

* Credit History (UK/International) – bankruptcies

* Criminal History Report (UK/International)


The Financial Services Authority states in their Training & Competence guidance that regulated firms should have:

* Adequacy of procedures for taking into account knowledge and skills of potential recruits for the role
* Adequacy of procedures for obtaining sufficient information about previous activities and training
* Adequacy of procedures for ensuring that individuals have passed appropriate exams or have appropriate exemptions
* Adequacy of procedures for assessing competence of individuals for sales roles

The Financial Services Authority’s statutory objectives:

1. Protecting consumers
2. Maintaining market confidence
3. Promoting public awareness
4. Reducing financial crime

Pre-employment screening in the US


Due to the sensitivity of the information contained in consumer reports and certain records, there are a variety of important laws regulating the dissemination and legal use of this information. Most notably, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the use of consumer reports (which it defines as information collected and reported by third party agencies) as it pertains to adverse decisions, notification to the consumer, and destruction and safekeeping of records. If a consumer report is used as a factor in an adverse hiring decision, the consumer must be presented with a “Pre-adverse action disclosure”, a copy of the FCRA summary of rights, and a “notification of adverse action letter”. Consumers are entitled to know the source of any information used against them including a credit reporting company.

Types of Checks

There are a variety of types of investigative searches that can be used by potential employers. Many commercial sites will offer specific searches to employers for a fee. Services like these will actually perform the checks, supply the company with adverse action letters, and ensure compliance throughout the process. It is important to be selective about which pre-employment screening agency you use. A legitimate company will be happy to explain the process to you.

Many employers choose to search the most common records such as criminal records, driving records, and education verification. Other searches such as sex offender registry, credential verification, reference checks, credit reports and Patriot Act searches are becoming increasingly common. Employers should consider the position in question when determining which types of searches to include, and should always use the same searches for every applicant being considered for one position.


They are frequently conducted to confirm information found on an employment application or resume/curriculum vitae. They may also be conducted as a way to further differentiate potential employees and pick the one the employer feels is best suited for the position. In the United States, the Brady Bill requires criminal checks for those wishing to purchase handguns from licensed firearms dealers. Restricted firearms (like machine guns), suppressors, explosives or large quantities of precursor chemicals, and concealed weapons permits also require criminal checks. Checks are also required for those working in positions with special security concerns, such as trucking, ports of entry, and airline transportation. Other laws exist to prevent those who do not pass a criminal check from working in careers involving the elderly, disabled, or children.

Possible Information Included

The amount of information included on a check depends to a large degree on the sensitivity of the reason for which it is conducted—e.g., somebody seeking employment at a minimum wage job would be subject to far fewer requirements than somebody applying to work for the FBI.

*Criminal and incarceration records

*Birth certificate, citizenship, or legal status in the country

*Litigation records – Employers may want to identify potential employees who routinely file discrimination lawsuits. It has also been alleged that in the U.S., employers that do work for the government do not like to hire whistleblowers who have a history of filing qui tam suits.

*Driving and vehicle records – Employers in the transportation sector seek drivers with clean driving records–i.e., those without a history of accidents or traffic tickets.

*Drug tests – are used for a variety of reasons–corporate ethics, measuring potential employee performance, and keeping workers’ compensation premiums down.

*Education records – These are used primarily to see if the potential employee had graduated from high school (or a GED) and in fact received a college degree, graduate degree, or some other accredited university degree. There are reports of SAT scores being requested by employers as well.

*Employment records – These usually range from simple verbal confirmations of past employment and timeframe to deeper, such as discussions about performance, activities and accomplishments, and relations with others.

*Financial information – Credit scores, liens, civil judgments, or bankruptcy may be included in the report.

*Licensing records – A government authority that has some oversight over professional conduct of its licensees will also maintain records regarding the licensee, such as personal information, education, complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions.

Medical, Mental, and Physiological evaluation and records

Military records – Although not as common today as it was in the past fifty years, employers frequently requested the specifics of one’s military discharge.

Social Security Number – (or equivalent outside the US) – A fraudulent SSN may be indicative of identity theft, insufficient citizenship, or concealment of a “past life”.

Polygraph test – Also known as a psychophysiological detection of deception (PDD) examination.

Other interpersonal interviews – Employers will usually wish to speak with potential employees’ references to gauge employability. More intensive checks can involve interviews with anybody that knew or previously knew the applicant–such as teachers, friends, coworkers, and family members.


Drug tests and credit checks for employment are highly controversial practices. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a project of the Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN): “While some people are not concerned about background investigations, others are uncomfortable with the idea of investigators poking around in their personal histories. In-depth checks could unearth information that is irrelevant, taken out of context, or just plain wrong. A further concern is that the report might include information that is illegal to use for hiring purposes or which comes from questionable sources.”

In May 2002, allegedly improper post-hire checks conducted by Northwest Airlines were the subject of a civil lawsuit between Northwest and 10,000 of their mechanics.

In the case of an arrest that did not lead to a conviction, employment checks can continue including the public arrest records for up to seven years, per 605 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act:

Except as authorized under subsection (b) of this section, no consumer reporting agency may make any consumer report containing . . . Civil suits, civil judgments, and records of arrest that from date of entry, antedate the report by more than seven years or until the governing statute of limitations has expired, whichever is the longer period.

Subsection (b) provides for an exception if the report is in connection with “the employment of any individual at an annual salary which equals, or which may reasonably be expected to equal $75,000, or more”

Some proposals for decreasing potential harm to innocent applicants include:

* Furnishing the applicant with a copy of the report before it is given to the employer, so that any inaccuracies can be addressed beforehand; and
* Allowing only conviction (not arrest) records to be reported.

In New Zealand, criminal checks have been affected by the Clean Slate Act 2004, which allows individuals to legally conceal “less serious” convictions from their records provided they had been conviction-free for at least seven years.

In Michigan, the system of criminal checks has been criticized in a recent case where a shooting suspect was able to pass an FBI check to purchase a shotgun although he had failed the check for a state handgun permit. According to the spokesman of the local police department,

… you could have a clear criminal history but still have contacts with law enforcement that would not rise to the level of an arrest or conviction [that can be used] to deny a permit whether or not those involved arrests that might show up on a criminal history.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has criticized the federal policy, which denies constitutional rights based on a criminal check only if the subject has been accused of a crime.

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