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Category: news

January 29, 2019
3 weeks ago

Employee Background Checks Are Not A One-N-Done. Annual Background Checks Are A Must!

Annual Background ChecksAs employee background checks continue to evolve and become more useful, many employers remain stuck using the old narrative that, if the original employee background check that is conducted at the time of hire is good, the employee is approved forever. But what happens if something happens while they are your employee? Let’s assume that whatever happens is bad enough that you would not hire someone for that job today if they have that in their background?

This prompts smart employers to do less extensive, but badly needed annual background checks on current employees. These are particularly important to do if you hire workers who deal with the public, with finances, who visit client locations or homes, who drive as part of their work, or any who work with vulnerable individuals like the elderly, children or impaired people. A great way to implement annual background checks is to set them up to occur just before annual employee reviews or at year end. Both approaches are easy to explain to employees and to track. As always, it is important to perform the same type of employee background checks on every employee with the same job. Employers can change the elements of those checks from one type of employee to another, however, they should treat everyone performing the same job the same way. Keep in mind that annual background checks are usually less expensive than the employee background checks conducted at the time of hire, because searches like education verification, employment history verification and confirming identity of the applicant should not normally have to be repeated.

Often times, employers will include annual drug screening with the annual background checks which can be helpful, but if the schedule for these tests is known, may allow a bad apple employee to engage in prohibited drug use during the year, but abstain just prior to the test to circumvent discovery.

As we move forward, the next innovation is to continuously monitor employee backgrounds and report activity as soon as it registers with courts, credit bureaus, etc. This is a great option, but it involves and greater cost for the employer and may be overkill for many positions or companies.

September 17, 2018
5 months ago

Understanding the legality of pre-employment background checks is not something every Human Resources Manager or company owner knows about.  That is why it is imperative that you employ a background screening company that knows the ins and outs of how to effectively protect you from bad hires.  Understanding what information you will receive, and what it actually means is why choosing a reputable screening company is so important.  If you choose a “$19.99 Background” online, you have no idea where the information comes from and there is no human to speak with who can explain it to you.

If you think you are covered, but you are not, it often takes time before your shortcomings will come to light Gaps to Look for in Pre-Employment Background Checksand this often leads employers to have a false sense of security.  Chicago Public Schools is coming under fire for their background screening policies of teachers and support staff including custodians, bus drivers, engineers and volunteers.  After a report came out last year showing that employees who abused students had criminal histories that should have disqualified them from working with kids, the district spent $3 million to redo their background checks.  Since this process began, they have barred more than 250 employees from returning to work this school year.

Schools, like many other employers, would prefer to avoid the disclosure that they hired an individual who went on to commit a crime and this leads us to the #1 issue facing pre-employment background checks, transparency.  All too often there is not enough evidence to formally charge these individuals and they are disciplined and given the option of resigning or being fired; most choose to resign.  When this individual then applies for a job in a different district, a call is made to confirm their employment records, and nothing can be said about their reason for leaving their position and you would find no warning signs of their behavior.  The Human Resources department is well versed in the liability they face should they release any information that is outside of verifying details of employment.

Knowing that missing information, or misleading information can occur in a background check is the first step in preparing your company to handle any situation that may arise.

June 26, 2018
8 months ago

Murderer Given New Roof by Local Charity

When a headline reads something like “Convicted Murderer Given Free Roof” or a feel-good charity story turns ugly because of the recipient’s past; the intention of doing a good thing for someone deserving is lost, and the charity is often made to look bad as a result. That’s where a real Michigan background check comes it.

In the charity world, giveaways are usually a great way to develop positive media stories about your organization, but they can also turn sour if the organization does not do their due diligence ahead of time, including conducting a background check.  This story can be used as a cautionary tale for any organization that is looking to do a good deed, even though they thought they were doing the necessary screening.  This organization implemented a screening process for those who applied for assistance, but it was not a real Michigan background check. Instead they only checked to see if the individuals were actively in the Michigan Department of Corrections.

In this story, the man who was awarded a new roof, in Port Huron, was convicted of second-degree murder and assault with intent to murder in 1976 and aggravated stalking in 2003.  Because it has been longer than three years since his discharge date, this individual no longer appears on the Michigan Department of Corrections website (a free search).  Many organizations look for the least expensive way to do a Michigan background check for their giveaway applicants, but they often find that the small fee they would have paid to have the applicants properly screened would have saved them from bad press.  In this case, a more thorough background check should have included a state criminal history search, with no limitations on the number of years back the data can go.  Having conducted this level of background check, something we would consider a basic Michigan Background Check, would have cost as little as $30 and could have saved this charity a lot of bad press both locally in Port Huron.

For more information about a real Michigan background check for charity recipients, employee background checks or background checks for caregivers, please check out our website at

Contributed by Adam Groth

June 12, 2018
8 months ago


June 7, 2018, Michigan Representative Peter Lucido of Shelby Township introduced House Bill 6126, which expands the total dollar figure landlords can collect as a security deposit from 1.5 months rent to 2 months rent plus $100.00.  Given that the average tenant background check costs around $85.00, this addition should adequately Michigan Landlords to Collect More Cashcover the up-front expense most landlords would incur by conducted such background checks.  The question on this bill is if the “plus $100” is considered part of the security deposit, which by law is to be returned upon the completion of the rental agreement, minus damages; or is this added figure is to cover upfront expenses incurred by the landlord?  As WZZM13 of Grand Rapids pointed out in their coverage (, renting in Michigan could get slightly more expensive.  By landlords conducting background investigations on their tenants, they are further protecting themselves against bad renters who might otherwise damage their property or fail to make payments.  Too often we speak with landlords in need of our locate and asset investigation services to help track down and collect from former tenants who failed to make payments or destroyed their rental properties.  We ask these folks if they considered conducting background checks before signing the final paperwork; with most saying they hadn’t considered them before the issues they had, but will do so in the future.


Pricing on tenant background checks is really straightforward and a reputable company should only charge a landlord for the information they actually want (not an entire pre-made package).  Most searches include criminal history and credit history, but civil litigation and prior landlord/tenant cases are also applicable; with even the more comprehensive background investigations coming in at under $150.00.

May 14, 2018
9 months ago


When the Lion’s team President, Rod Wood, was contacted by the Detroit News to provide comment about coach Matt Patricia’s background, this should not have been how he learned of Patricia’s arrest for aggravated assault in 1996.

When the Detroit News broke the story on Wednesday, it opened up a firestorm of controversy and concern. With the country focused on trying to eliminate domestic violence, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, the Lion’s, known widely to be an ethical, conscientious and forthright organization, are now a lightning rod for criticism.

Let’s assume that Coach Patricia’s rendition is accurate and that the complainant withdrew her accusation because he was innocent and it was the right thing to do. The fact that the Lions were hiring a high-profile person for a very, very public job mandates that their background check and hiring processes catch something so easily detectable by anyone with an internet connection.

Detroit Lions Coach, Matt Patricia's Background Check Blunder Highlights the Reality That Too Many Businesses Use the Wrong Background Screening VendorIf the Lions elected to believe Patricia, and it is important to remember that he was never convicted of any wrong doing, and to move forward with the hiring decision, that seems like a reasonable decision. Clearly they followed the letter of the law and confined their decision to Michigan labor and employment law by only using convictions in their process. They even came out later and said that this report did not change their opinion or their hiring decision in any way. The problem for us, as professional background check providers, is that the arrest was not known to them until the Detroit News called. It is sitting in an easily accessible public record that we, and apparently the Detroit News, found in seconds. There was even a newspaper report of the incident available too.


Executive level hiring decisions should include questions to the applicant like: Have you ever been arrested for a felony? Have you ever been charged with a felony?

It is disconcerting to think that the Lions relied on people to conduct this background check, who so obviously failed to find what was so easy for the rest of the world to find and so important for them to know. They should have been made aware of this incident, regardless if it was over 20 years ago.

One can blame the Lion’s, but only to a degree. They, like many other companies in Detroit and across the country, fall victim to the tricks of the background screening industry. This industry works very hard to keep what they actually do hidden and to rely upon legal disclaimers to exonerate them if something like this comes to light. Instead the industry relies on technology gimmicks and misleading named search bundles that end up leaving too many clients feeling a false sense of security, while maintaining a great deal of risk that could otherwise be mitigated.

Far too often, companies and organizations select their employment screening / employment background check provider based upon price, speed (which usually means cutting corners and limiting the sources searched, and of course more legal ** disclaimers!) or because a slick sales person sold them on the latest version of a “super instant background check” technology. Big employee background check firms spend massive amounts of money on sales and entertainment to lock in the work of large employers like the Lions.

The reality is that there is no way to do an instant nationwide background check. Period. Nearly countless records are not searchable from the web, nor are they stored in some private database. Were just not there. In fact, we’re not even close.

This situation should serve as a warning to all employers and business owners to better understand what their background check provider does and does not do for them. Cheap and fast mean what they have always meant, low quality and unreliable. Following the law does not require that you be left in the dark and, like the Lions, every caring, ethical employer should be aware of what the agents working on their behalf are really doing as part of their background check.


April 17, 2018
10 months ago

Identify Why Your Organization Should Background Check Applicants

This is probably the easiest and most obvious question an employer can ask themselves.  If you are reading this, you are likely considering screening your applicants at a certain stage in the hiring process.  Every company goes through this at some point, no matter how large or small.  This is attributed to a number of things, not the least of which includes protecting your firm from a bad and costly hiring decision, the duty to protect current employees, the need to protect company data and resources, and the need to ensure the integrity of your candidates.  It is understandable in today’s day and age that anyone with employees would want to know about past behaviors that can lead to future problems.  Thankfully background screening has become commonplace for most employers.  Unfortunately, bad hires count on a number of employers who do not screen their hires and hire strictly on how they feel about an applicant, creating potential problems down the road.

What Do You Want to Know About Your Applicants?

I’ll bet if you are calling around to background check companies, you have never been asked this question in these terms.

If you stop to think; “what are we concerned about in our applicant’s background”, you will likely come up with the answer to this one.

What matters about an applicant’s background that would prevent you from making an offer?

For some industries, this question is easily answered by regulation specific to who can perform certain professional roles.  Your industry may have these types of guidelines in place, and if so, a qualified background screening company should be able to match you with the exact searches you need (in this case, skip to number 4!).  Most industries don’t have specific background check guidelines and therefore it is up to the employer (you) to identify what you want to know about an applicant before hiring them.  There are many options for employers to choose from; and so, to name a few of the most commonly requested searches, we have pasted this handy list below:


  • Criminal Convictions
  • Sex Offender History
  • County Level Criminal Convictions
  • Local Level Misdemeanor Convictionsbackground check
  • Driving Records
  • Credit History
  • Identity Verification (Name, DOB, SSN and Prior Addresses)

         – Applicants sometimes lie about this to avoid their records being found!

  • Education Verification
  • Prior Employment Verification
  • Federal Court Records Search
  • Bankruptcy Court Search
  • Industry Specific Professional Licensing and Violations
  • US Terror Watchlist
  • Reference Interviews

Keeping in mind that this list is not all-inclusive and that there are many additional options available, it is important that along with having an idea of what you do want to know about an applicant, you should consider the information you may not want to know.  By this, we simply mean, what type of records are you willing to overlook on any applicant.  It is specific to note that this should be applied to any applicant to avoid hiring bias.  If there are records that would not prevent your firm from hiring someone, we can help steer you clear of searches that might reveal that information.  For example, if your applicant will never have access to a company car and has no job requirements to drive while employed, you may not select to see his or her driving record.  The same applies to credit history searches and bankruptcy records.  If these things would never disqualify someone from working for you, it may be best to leave those out of your background check.

Identify and Document the Information You Want to Know

Once you have a pretty good idea of what you do and don’t want to know about your applicants, it is a smart idea to document that list for a couple of reasons.  First off, you will want to have it handy when you do select a background screening company, so you can best articulate which searches you want to be included and which you don’t.  This brings up the topic of packages.

Clear and simple; if a background check company insists on a package of searches that they have pre-made; don’t buy.

This is your hiring process and you can decide what is to be included and what isn’t.  A qualified company may have suggestions based on experience or your local area, but at the end of the day, these searches are for people you will be hiring and working with.  Also, by documenting these searches and the criteria you will use to hire, you can help ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws and create a fair and even hiring process that is applied across the board for applicants in equal roles.


Selecting a Qualified Background Check Company

What do we know so far?

  • Pre-made packages are not helpful for most employers, and background checks should be designed for each individual employer, with the specific details about what they want to know about an applicant.
  • There are a lot of search options available to an employer and consulting an expert can help.
  • You as the employer are in control of the information that goes into your background checks.
  • Compliance includes creating a background check that applies to all applicants for a specific role


What else makes for a qualified partner to screen your applicants?


Most importantly for any employer to know is that creating a compliant background check to deploy during your hiring process is a smart way to help reduce hiring risks.  This process is very commonplace and with a good background check firm to partner with, you can ensure that you are obtaining the very specific information that is important to your individual organization to know before you make hiring decisions.  If you are looking for guidance on how to begin creating a background check for your company or have questions on specific industries or locations, our team of investigators are happy to help you on the phone at 888-817-8282 or via chat online at

March 20, 2018
11 months ago

By: Jackie Brazen

Nationwide Criminal Databases sound like the perfect way to search for criminal records on someone during their background check.  What an amazing concept, and so easy right?  Well, not exactly.  Normally, this isn’t even close to what you actually get.  The expectation is that every state, county and city is being searched thoroughly for records that paint a full picture of a person’s criminal history.  On every level, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

What you are really getting

All of these databases/search options come with a disclaimer.  For starters, read that closely.  Even if the search claims to be conducted using “millions of records” that includes thousands of different jurisdictions, there is always a disclaimer.  What these disclaimers do is notify you that there is no control over where the Nationwide Criminal Databasessearches are actually being conducted, which databases are functional and if the municipalities where your target operates is even included.  Most of the records that are being searched are publicly available (for free) online elsewhere.  Creative software simply searches as many of these as it can and produces results that are only as good as the user believes they are.  This is very dangerous, especially since a lot of the available records come from the department of corrections (only people having served time in prison in most states) and a variety of oddball counties who publish their records online!  Often these records are out of date or don’t include final dispositions, which are paramount in determining WHAT someone was actually convicted of.  Additionally, records are not being verified by a human investigator who can look for things that don’t belong, like errors and false positives.  The worse example yet is when a search is done on someone in a state or county where none of the records are available to these “national databases” (which goes for most of the country).  You may be searching “millions of records” but one of them are within 500 miles of where your person lives.

Records on Wrong Person

This is another common issue with these “National Background Checks” or “National Criminal Databases”.

Once you receive the information you may notice that there is no way to verify if what you are looking at actually pertains to the person you ran the search on.  There may be no middle names, dates of birth or even an address by which to verify that the record is correct for your search target.  This is incredibly common when dealing with people who have common names.  Just imagine searches for records on “John Smith” in Chicago.  You will likely get so many false positives that the results are meaningless.

What to Search

The best scenario is one where you search for records in and around where are person lives and has lived.  This often involves a statewide criminal history search (when available) along with individual county level searches.  Each search should be done using a licensed professional investigator and data should only come directly from the government entity responsible for housing and maintaining such records.  This is often another failure of National Criminal Records Databases and National Criminal Background Checks.  To supplement their access level, which limit these software packages to what is available for free online (and often times outdated or watered down), bulk records are purchased and searched.  This causes additional problems with identifying the entirety of a charge and often requires a user to conduct additional, more costly searches in the long run.


If you are curious about nationwide criminal databases or are currently using a service that might fit into this category and would like a very easy test example that will prove the dichotomy between “national background check” providers and real investigators, please give us a call.  Five minutes with on the phone with our team could save you thousands in headaches from buying the wrong service.


March 1, 2018
12 months ago

Everyone wants quick background checks and accurate results, but the two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

By Jackie Brazen

When clients and potential clients call us up asking for a background check to be conducted on an employee or several employees, one of the first questions they ask is “how quick is your turn around time”?  Everybody wants the background checks done as quickly as possible, but also want the most accurate results. These two wants don’t always match up.  If checks could be completed that way, life would be easy, and my job would be a breeze. But if my clients want the best and most accurate results than sometimes a check can take an extra day or so, to ensure full accuracy with the information that is given to you. Here is a little overview on why it can take time when we are searching for records of your applicants.

Our services are conducted by in-house professional investigators who are knowledgeable on the searches that we run. We do not use any databases like the online background check companies use when running searches. We make sure that we are running the correct, up to date, and accurate sources when we conduct searches. Even though some courts or states can send back records quickly, we still take time to verify each records to ensure accuracy. We go through the documents make sure the information is all there and it will be easy to understand when we send it off to our client. If there is information missing, we will go back to the source to see if more information can be provided.

Quick Background Checks can Sacrifice AccuracyWe receive many authorizations that have common last names such as, Rodriguez, Smith, Jones, etc. When running searches on individuals with common last names it can take time, we need to search through records, if there are any, to make sure that we give you the information on your applicant and not someone with the same name and possibly the same or similar date of birth. Online database companies typically only provide whatever information is generated, including false positives and “possible matches”, causing more of a headache for you the end user. The bottom line, be wary of “quick background checks”.

Waiting an extra day can be extremely beneficial to you in the long run when it comes to verifying the accuracy of a background check and should be your top priority when deciding a vendor to work with. If you are looking to get an accurate background check to get it done correctly, give us a call today and we will be more than happy to help you.




February 26, 2018
12 months ago

When very low unemployment arrives and the number of job candidates available thins out, this is the time to be extra diligent with your Michigan employee screening.

Yes, ultra-low unemployment is good for the workforce and helps to lift the economy overall. For employers in Warren, Grand Rapids, Novi and elsewhere in metro-Detroit, it also thins out the number of candidates available and makes hiring a bit more challenging. In Detroit, the job market is off the hook with high demand in nearly every sector. Unfortunately, when the labor market in Michigan tightens, more bad apples get into the barrel. When scarcity arrives, some Michigan employers looking to fill positions at a certain labor cost will begin to lower their standards or to back off on Michigan employee screening. This can lead to big trouble! Michigan employee screening

First off, any employer who elects to stop conducting Michigan employee screening on their applicants due to a tight labor market is crazy. Hire standards should not be lowered just to fill a spot. Not only does this place your company, co-workers and clients at additional risk, you also greatly increase the risk that you waste time and money on-boarding and training an employee who simply will never workout as a good, value adding employee.

Secondly, when the labor is scarce, MORE unqualified applicants than ever will be applying for your jobs. This is actually the time when you should be the most diligent with your Michigan employee screening and when your risk of a making a bad hire is the greatest! Beyond the loss of time and money associated with a bad hire, consistency in your background checks and consistent treatment of each class of employee is essential for both compliance and liability management purposes. This holds true for large and small Michigan employers alike.

If you need help in learning more about working with an agency that provides real value adding Michigan employee screening services or need advise on where to begin in the employee background check arena, give us a call. The consultation is free. No strings attached. And remember, not only are we a leader in Michigan employee screening services, we have no contracts, no volume minimums or other tricks that many Michigan employee screening firms do.

February 12, 2018
1 year ago

Top 3 Reasons Background Checks Fail EmployersAs an employer or HR Representative, this has to be one of your biggest fears.  Hiring an employee, having them clear the background check process, and starting them in their new job, only to later find out awful things about them that you, in good faith, believed should have been identified prior to them being hired.  Worse yet, the new hire causes harm to your company or employees.  We get calls all the time; “how come our current background check company didn’t find out that our employee had (fill in the disqualifying background issue here) in his or her background?  The information they are upset to hear which was not found during their background check can range from frightening criminal records, a bad driving report, multiple prior terminations, bad credit history, multiple evictions, you name it.  These problems persist because of what we have identified as three main areas.


  1. The background screening company didn’t properly or thoroughly conduct the searches or used a third-party database to do so.
  2. The applicant intentionally provided bad personally identifying information that misleads the background check company.
  3. The applicant had these issues outside of the jurisdictions where the searches were conducted, or the scope of the investigation was too limited.


Improper Searches, Lack of Human Oversight and Third-Party Databases

Here is an easy question to ask your background check provider.  Do you use third-party databases for records or do you search directly with the governmental source of the information?  In almost all cases, the direct governmental source is going to have the very most up to date and complete information available.  This is where records should be searched.  The downside of this process can – in some cases – be turnaround time.  Working with state, county and city government entities can take slightly more time, but wouldn’t you rather wait an extra day for your results to be sure that you have the very best, most complete and up to date information available?  Companies will often sacrifice this accuracy for speed and cost.  The other side to this failure involves the lack human oversight and often times goes hand in hand with third-party database searches.  Companies have found ways to automate much, if not all of the background check process.  This makes for quick turnaround times and exceptionally low pricing.  The reality is that this automation relies heavily on third-party databases and free online searches, using no human oversight to identify records, problems, or weed out false positives.  People with common names can also be affected by this automation with the inclusion of “possible records”.  Imagine if your name is John Smith and you happen to live in a populated area.  Automation may present a number possible records in your name without verifying these records by other identifying personal information.


Applicants Providing Bad Information

Thankfully this one is highly preventable, and any reputable background check company will have ways to initially confirm an applicant’s identity as they provide it to their employer (or to the background screening company directly).  Utilizing a number of investigative databases, an applicant’s provided information can be checked against factual data available to licensed Investigators.  Applicants are known to slightly alter their date of birth, social security number or prior address history.  These databases immediately identify these inconsistencies and an investigator can notify the employer of the issue and/or continue the background investigation with the real data.  Bad input equals bad output, so preventing an investigator from utilizing the false information provided by an applicant is why we use such databases.  Often times employers can weed these people out of the process without continuing the entirety of the background check.  Think of it this way, if the company does nothing to pre-screen the data they are using to autonomously enter into sources of background information (direct or third-party), the results will only be as good as the data that was entered.  Second names, hyphenated names, and aliases also fall into this category.  A human eye using the best data available is always the best bet to ensure that each person’s identifying information is searched every way possible.


The Scope of the Investigator Was Too Limited

Most companies won’t tell you that searching the entire country is not feasible for most pre-employment background checks.  Don’t be fooled by “Nationwide Criminal History Searches”.  The FBI handles this, and you, as an employer, don’t have access to these files.  Neither does your CRA.  What this means is that searches have to be done at the state, county and city level to create the most thorough scenario available.  Failures happen when background check companies, using automation, will search only where an applicant currently lives or a combination of where they currently live and most recently lived.  Remember that bad input equals bad output.  If an applicant claims to have only lived in one place, most companies will simply search that jurisdiction and call it a day.  Effective background checks are more fluid and the same process used to verify an applicant’s personal information is used to identify where they have lived, even if they didn’t report those locations to the employer.  Knowing each jurisdiction that an applicant and has lived in, and worked in can provide an investigator a better insight into the different areas that should be searched.  The idea is that a proper background check company should provide insight and suggestions on where else the background check should go, including automatically searching jurisdictions that make sense to provide better coverage.  “Investigative Scope” also includes selecting the right level of coverage for your company.  Potential clients often call and ask for a “background check”, which we know means many things to different people.  When we dig deeper, we found out that the client’s real intention is to find any and all criminal convictions.  Do they care about driving records, misdemeanor conviction or just felonies?  Any reputable company can help a buyer sort these issues out and come up with a customized search package that matches exactly what a client is looking for; nothing more and nothing less. This includes the identity verification and continued suggestions for maximum coverage.


Thankfully, a reputable company can help solve these issues and prevent businesses from hiring people who would otherwise fail their background checks.  Background Check Central prides itself in knowing how to get to the bottom of what our clients really want in their background checks.  We provide excellent service by making our clients aware of any identity issues, additional jurisdictions that should be searched, and providing a full explanation of what sources of data were searched during the background check process.  You should feel at ease when your reports are returned to you, not nervous about whether or not the background check was done properly.  If you or anyone you know has any questions on how to properly setup a background check process that is best for your organization, we encourage you to contact our office and speak with one of our licensed professional investigators.

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