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What to Look for in a Background-checking Company

Does it have sufficient staff to handle the volume they service? Is the data collected the most accurate available?

November 2, 2001
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The perfect fit between a background checking vendor and an employer depends on the employer's objectives.

There are vendors that will provide a low cost, "down and dirty" search to provide some protection from negligent hiring liability at a low cost. Other vendors provide more extensive and accurate services focused on assisting employers concerned with safety and security or on making the most informed hiring decision.

Regardless of the whether the employer wants the minimum or something more, it should make sure that the vendor complies with all federal and state laws governing employment background checks. The background-checking company should be able to demonstrate its knowledge of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the EEOC, and other federal and state regulations that address employment background checks. It should also be able to demonstrate compliance procedures in place in its company.

One quick measure of compliance with the FCRA is whether or not the company requires you to have an applicant-signed release authorizing the background check before conducting the search. This is an FCRA mandate (along with several other requirements) and no check conducted by a vendor should be completed without having first obtained this authorization.

Additionally, employers should ask the vendor about the legality of its data sources. You certainly don't want to be the recipient of illegally obtained information.

Of course, make sure you have an attorney familiar with the FCRA review your service agreement, making sure that it specifically describes the services provided, liability, and compliance roles of the parties involved.

Other common selection factors are:

  • Can the company provide all the data that you need to make a hiring decision based on your goals?

  • Can it provide the information in a timely manner?

  • Is the data collected the most accurate available (primary sources)?

  • Does it have a national or regional scope?

  • Does it have sufficient staff to handle the volume they service?

  • Does it offer convenient methods of ordering (Web, software, fax, phone, e-mail, etc.)

  • Does it offer customer service hours for the full business day in your region?

  • Can it provide regulatory guidance (especially the FCRA)?

Source: HireCheck

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