The most entertaining movies and crime novels describe the idea that to catch a criminal, it helps to think like one. Does the same thought prove valuable when screening potential employees who might harm your organization? Let’s take a look at the background check industry and analyze how applicants are able to intentionally hide a criminal background and pass through the pre-employment screening process without an employer finding a hint of derogatory information.
A risky background check program starts with a job application and a background inquiry form that are accepted by the employer at face value. If the basic information used as criteria for the background check is flawed, than the background check will be inaccurate. An employer always has the option of using only the self-reported applicant data from these forms, or taking the precautionary step of running additional checks to confirm the information. Now if I were a three time convicted thief with the name of Allen Smith, I could enter the name Alan Smith on the background inquiry form knowing that criminal records are indexed primarily by the name and date of birth, not the social security number. Did you notice the change in spelling of the first name? The name sounds the same but the second time, the name is spelled differently. Do most employers check to see if there is a difference in the spelling of the name from one form to the next, or compared to what appears on the driver’s license? Now take the name Alan Smith and key it into your local county criminal records index. If nothing comes up, then you just might hire this person and put him in your IT department where Allen has access to every credit card number or SSN in your system.
What if Allen Smith failed to disclose on his pre-hire paperwork that he lived in Georgia for six months? Could he be hiding a criminal record that occurred in Georgia? Now let’s imagine that we are dealing with his sister, Lisa Smith, who also has a criminal past pertinent to the job for which she is applying. Lisa went to Vegas two years ago, got married and changed her name to Lisa Jones. On her job application and background inquiry form she only discloses Lisa Jones, therefore you only check the name Lisa Jones. Will the background check uncover her criminal records? No. Each different name is a different inquiry on the criminal index. A company that fails to run both names is conducting a less than comprehensive program, filled with gaps and potential risk and liability. There are simple and inexpensive ways to help you identify undisclosed names and addresses to strengthen your criminal background screening program.
Are there other mistakes that could be made in the background screening process? Yes, there are several but this article only addresses two. For more information, contact Dresser & Associates to learn who your direct contact is for background screening consultation.