Although stringent background checks often occur during the employment application process, they are also used for existing employees and volunteers. Negative information available through stringent background checks--such as past arrests or financial troubles--may hinder a candidates opportunity to be hired or promoted.
Employers conduct stringent background checks for several reasons, according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Whether it's an issue of negligent hiring lawsuits, child protection laws, heightened security, identity verification or corporate scandals--most, if not all, organizations take rigorous precautions to avoid unanticipated conflict or legal troubles.
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But resume fraud remains one of the more common reasons for stringent background checks. A recent investigation by CBS News Correspondent Kelly Wallace reported that three out of 10 people lie on their resumes. As a result, 96 percent of U.S. companies perform background checks.
Many background checks are less invasive and simply verify an applicants Social Security number. However, applicants undergoing stringent background checks can expect any of the following documents to be examined: military reports, educational transcripts, medical records, court records, financial files, vehicle registration, employment history and property ownership. Some employers, like state and federal governments, will even interview the applicant's neighbors for additional information about personal habits and character.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
Screening firms that specialize in stringent background checks eliminate the need for employers to conduct their own investigations. Many of these firms are affiliated with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners and adhere to strict laws and standards put forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Employers and screening agencies must follow federal and state laws when performing any type of background check.
Under federal law, companies can acquire personal information through social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook, if they conduct the background check themselves. According to a recent study by Career Builder, 55 percent of company respondents claimed to have checked applicants' social networking sites in 2009. Consequently, many employers reported adverse hiring decisions due to information and pictures found on these websites. Though the laws concerning this method of screening can change, applicants should be aware of the impact of this latest phenomena.