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August 30, 2017
4 yearsago

Pre-Employing Screening Criminal Records Database Verification

It can often be confusing with the number of online instant background check services to know where “real” records actually come from. Licensed Professional Investigators use data that comes directly from the state, county or local municipality, ensuring accuracy and completeness of what we report to our clients. We are also acutely aware that each state, city or county may maintain records differently, or only chose to make some parts of those records available as public record. We work to ensure that no matter what the scenario is, that our clients get the best records available wherever their applicant is from.

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May 30, 2017
5 yearsago

Criminal Record Expungement Still Causing Background Check Issues?

Licensed Michigan Background Check Investigators Explain Why that Might be Happening

Criminal Record ExpungementIn Michigan, like most states, there are ways for prior criminal offenders to have specific records expunged from their backgrounds.  This creates a delicate and tricky situation for everyone involved; the offender, the lawyer they hired to expunge the records, background check companies and employers.  The reason for this is that once records of an arrest, criminal proceeding, conviction and sentencing are created, they are very difficult to completely erase so that they cannot be located during a background check.  There are really three controlling issues at play when it comes to expunged records still showing up on an applicant’s background check:

  • Not all of the records with official government entities are taken out of public view once an expungement has taken place
  • Background check companies do not have a way of knowing that the records they find are not supposed to be reported because of an expungement
  • Third party data brokers have already purchased the records and are selling them to data vendors and non-government search databases

Records with Government Entities

These are databases maintained by government entities (state, federal and local) that we consider the most accurate sources of information.  They are sometimes referred to as “direct from source data” or “first source data”.  Any competent background check agency will only utilize these types of records.  The downside can be cost and turnaround time, but not doing so sacrifices accuracy and completeness and in pre-employment screening, these records are the only ones that should be utilized when making a hiring decision based on an applicant’s background.

The issue with expunged records is that there are multiple places where these records get created and stored, all available to a diligent investigator with good intentions of thoroughly searching someone’s background.  Below is a rough breakdown of the various places a background investigator can locate criminal records in Michigan.  Most states are very similar in their processes and therefore have similar locations where records can be located.

Police reports -> Intake/Booking Information -> Jail Records -> District Court Records -> Circuit Court Records -> Michigan State Police Arrest and Conviction Abstract -> Michigan Department of Corrections Database -> Michigan Secretary of State.

Expunging records from all of these sources is nearly impossible and most attorney’s do so at the court level and/or with the Michigan State Police.  That leaves a number of other locations still open for discovery of these records that can still effect an applicant going through the background check process.

This takes us into the second issue; when background check company discovers a record, but has no way to know if it has been expunged or not.  This one is self-explanatory, but no company wants to disclose records that otherwise should not be divulged to an employer.  The best-case scenario is that the investigator notes that parts of the record are not where they should be and reaches out to the applicant for documentation of a possible expungement.  Unfortunately, even the best “.Gov” databases can be incomplete and missing information at times, so it is not uncommon to have a piece of the puzzle missing and have to locate records elsewhere, not immediately thinking that it could be because the record was expunged.

Third Party Data Brokers

The real issues for those with properly expunged records is when third party data brokers are involved with purchasing large sets of criminal data from various government entities.  These records are usually bought in bulk and then stored internally with the individual private data broker companies.  From there, they sell access to their data or re-sell the data altogether to other companies that either utilize the data as part of a large access point or sell the ability to search large quantities of records from multiple jurisdictions at one time, sometimes as part of what they market as a “national criminal history” database. (for information on the dangers of these types of insta-searches, click here).  Once criminal records are purchased by these third parties, they are essentially “out there” and become far more difficult to have redacted.  Some of these companies do allow some means to delete records from their databases with proper documentation, but getting to each of these vendors is difficult.  The majority of applicants we work with who have legitimate expungements, but are still losing out on jobs because of the background check process are a direct result of the background check company utilizing one of these types of databases.  A key problem being that even if an applicant can prove to an employer that a record was expunged, the employer has already seen the original conviction and can be biased by that improper data.

What can an applicant with an expungement do?

If you had a record expunged, but are nervous that an employer may still find the record or parts of the records due to any of the reasons mentioned above, you do have some options.

MichiganLegalHelp.Org has some excellent pages related to this topic.  You can also consult your attorney to determine where he or she had the records expunged from to confirm that the main locations (the court system and the Michigan State Police) are covered.  Have your expungement paperwork available for any issues and ask your potential employer for access to the background screening company before the searches take place.  A reputable company will know how to handle this situation, look at your paperwork to ensure that the conviction you had expunged is not disclosed to the employer if it happens to be located during the course of the background check.  If you are still unsure of what records are going to show up, Advanced Surveillance Group can conduct a background investigation on you to help you determine what records are still available and where those records are located so that you can target those entities for further removal.

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November 28, 2016
5 yearsago

blurry-eyes

TOP 4 MISREPRESENTATIONS APPLICANTS USE TO HIDE THE TRUTH

DATA DISTORTION WITH THE PURPOSE OF HIDING NEGATIVE BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Applicants providing false personal information is nothing new to our industry.  Those applicants entering the background check phase of the hiring process, who know that they have a history that may lead to the denial of employment, often provide false personal information that is meant to be sent to the background check company working with their prospective employer.  The majority of the time, this is done by simply providing an incorrect social security number, date of birth or residential history.  Often times, employers don’t or cannot double check this information against physical personal identification and therefore the information gets submitted to a background check company as is.  Bad information used in this process often equates to bad data results, depending on how the background screener operates.  Some of the most common types of data distortion we see are below.

  • Wrong day, month or year of birth
  • Incorrect social security number (often numbers are intentionally transposed)
  • Incorrect middle name or middle initial
  • Not reporting a full residential history or leaving off cities/states they have lived in

How does an incorrect date of birth affect a background check?   Applicants providing a false date of birth, whether it is off by a day, a month, a year or completely incorrect are counting on a background screening company not taking that information and verifying it prior to conducting criminal record searches.  We have also seen that an incorrect date of birth on a background authorization form may not be verifiable with any other applicant information, as most employers are not in the habit of asking for dates of birth on other application material due to EEOC concerns.  Given that the only place an applicant’s date of birth is likely to be given is on the background authorization form, there is often no secondary location that an employer can use to compare data.  When done without prior verification, records that are found on your John Doe applicant are compared by date of birth, with those records not matching what was provided being discarded as not applying to the applicant at hand.  This is especially concerning when working with applicants who have more common names, as the only way to discern if a record applies to an applicant is to narrow the search down based on the month, day and year of birth as there may be numerous records found based on name alone, many applying to different individuals.

An incorrect social security number may be given for a few reasons.  Sometimes applicants simply do not have a legal right to work in the United States and when asked, provide either a made up social security number or one that is known to them to belong to someone else.  The most common searches affected by an improper social security number are; credit check, E-Verify (I-9 Eligibility), residential history and prior employment verification.  Often trying to muddy the water, applicants believe that if their background check doesn’t return information, the lack of verification may work in their favor rather than a screening company finding negative information.  As for an applicant’s residential history, which is often searched by using their social security number, applicant’s are usually trying to hide someplace they previously resided where records may exist; records that could deny them an employment opportunity.   Credit history searches without a proper social security number can result in a “no credit information found”, which the applicant can then explain as them not having a credit history for any number of reasons.  This is far better then what is likely their negative credit history that could include multiple creditors, bankruptcies, liens, judgments and collection issues.

A middle name is really that important?  The answer can often be yes.  This is especially true when working with applicants with common surnames.  Record results are often returned on first and last name with middle name or middle initials being an optional field that an investigator would later use to sort data to determine which records may apply or require additional research.  Applicants with such common names, who also have records in their background that may result in negative job determinations, will often provide different middle names or middle initials in an attempt to camouflage their records within the many that are likely to be found based on first and last name alone.  Imagine conducting a criminal records search on John Smith in a major metropolitan area.  The resulting records (depending on the municipality) could be sorted by year of birth, full date of birth, middle name or age of the records themselves.  As investigators, we utilize whatever other pieces of information we have available regarding an applicant, which frequently includes the applicant’s middle name.  Having a false middle name may cause an investigator to miss records that should be included for ultimate dissemination.

How complete of a residential history should be included?  Typically, we ask for applicants and employers to provide a full ten-year residential history for comparison.  The reason for this is that in most cases, we are asked to conduct ten year record searches and/or that is a reasonable retention timeframe for many municipalities.  What applicants will do, is to conveniently skip over cities, counties and even states that they have lived in, knowing that there is negative information to be found there.  Residential history often goes hand in hand with an applicant’s social security number, as those addresses are often uniquely tied to an applicant’s SSN and can be verified as such.  This piece of information is even more important in those states/cities that do not have universal linked data sources.  In these scenarios, investigators must search individual municipalities for records, based on an applicant’s residential history.

The issues of prospective employees misrepresenting and distorting their personal information is common and in no way new to our industry.  Thankfully, responsible background check companies can go beyond simply imputing the exact data they receive from an employer/applicant.  Information can be pre-verified, allowing a screening company to alert an employer client of any differences in what data was provided and what was ultimately found out about an applicant, giving the employer the opportunity to either dismiss the applicant from the process immediately or give the applicant a chance to correct any issues.  By verifying all personal information beforehand, a background check can be conducted with the utmost confidence that the correct data input information is being used, ensuring the most accurate data searches possible.  Offering this verification service is the best way for a background check company to provide the optimal service experience to their clients,  while discouraging applicants from distorting their personal information for the purpose of hiding negative background information.

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January 8, 2016
6 yearsago

Screening on Volunteers and Members of the Non-Profit SectorAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in September of 2014, the United States had a 25.3% volunteer rate. That’s an outstanding number of people willing to contribute to their communities! However, like employees, volunteers should be properly screened depending on the tasks they will be involved with.

 

Volunteers that deal with people with disabilities, children, and the elderly should certainly have a more extensive background check than someone organizing food for a food pantry or doing simple administrative tasks. Although volunteers help non-profits thrive, you want to make sure you weed out any potential danger to protect your organizations reputation. It is important to do screening on volunteers and members of the non-profit sector to protect those the organization is out to serve.

Background Check Central understands that non-profits rely on volunteers to make their organization successful. Contact us today to see how we can help you!

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October 7, 2015
6 yearsago

trackingAt Background Check Central, we understand that the hiring process is multifaceted and countless man hours can be wasted reviewing forms and ensuring proper compliance when making a decision.  One of our goals is to eliminate the added stress of conducting a pre-employment screening and we have partnered with over 100 ATS to streamline the hiring and tracking process.

Applicant Tracking Systems are more important now than ever before.  Recruiting technology is not only important to success, but a critical element.  Simply put ATS integration means faster results.  By integrating with already existing tracking systems we have managed to forge a method that provides our services with no additional administrative time by our clients.  While this is particularly useful for high volume businesses, we have no limits or monthly requirements.  Our ATS integration is just as useful to a landlord who runs five tenant screenings per month as it is to a large corporation conducting hundreds of pre-employment screening searches.

If you have any questions about how to best implement an integration do not hesitate to contact our office.

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September 14, 2015
6 yearsago

apply_nowIn today’s Go to Greg column in the New York Post, a reader asked Greg if they have to submit to a background check as part of applying for a new job. The writer felt that a background check constituted an invasion of privacy. Greg had the correct answer to this often asked question: Yes, you have to submit to a background check as part of applying for a new job if you want that job.

The reality is the neither the employer nor the background check provider furnish any information about you to anyone else and all the employer is really trying to do is to verify that information that you have provided to them. If you state that you graduated from State with a degree in Biology, all they will do is check to see that this is true. Being honest with the employer is crucial and the company will always ask about anything they note in the background check that you did not report ahead of time. If you forgot something or they did not ask originally, just like at every other step in the process, tell the truth. As to the information the the background screening company finds, they always have to provide the source they obtained that information from, if it is erroneous, you can go straight to the source and get that information removed.

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September 11, 2015
6 yearsago

Employee background checks are an appropriate and necessary tool for every employer. Simultaneously, the EEOC is also an appropriate and necessary regulatory agency that has a duty to protect us from abusive, prejudicial hiring practices. Of late, the EEOC has been targeting employers who they believe are using employee background checks to discriminate against a particular class of people. Many of their challenges concern using criminal record findings to deny minority applicants jobs.

In a recent court decision involving a Texas based event planning business, the EEOC was not only found to be incorrect in their assertions about the event planner abusing their use of criminal background checks, but they were also required to pay the companies legal fees of close to $1 million dollars. Several other large suits are also underway involving the EEOC and criminal background checks used by employers.

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July 10, 2015
6 yearsago

The reportedly reputable FBI National Background Check failed to discover potentially disqualifying information about Charleston shooter Dylann Roof.

See this link for details.

The FBI has made an admission that Roof should not have been allowed to purchase the firearm which he used in his rampage.  Now more than ever, we see that the best practice when conducting a background check, is to obtain primary source information directly from county court houses and local law enforcement.

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June 25, 2015
6 yearsago

You may see us post on social media about Ban the Box legislation. Cities and counties all across the United States are adopting this new policy, but what is it?

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) affirmed removing the question “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” from job applications. They have endorsed this so candidates have a fair chance at a job based on their qualifications, not the reputation of having a criminal record. This doesn’t mean that an employer cannot run a background check or must hire a candidate with a criminal conviction, it simply gives employers a chance to see if a person is qualified for a job before declining them due to criminal status.

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June 17, 2015
6 yearsago

You are sifting through resumes when one catches your eye. After a background check comes back clean, it’s time for reference checks. You call this candidate’s former employer at Altman Research. Altman is an equity research firm based in Chicago and your applicant’s supervisor had nothing but wonderful things to say about your potential new hire. It is a great scenario for a perfect hire, right? Except for the fact that Altman Research doesn’t actually exist.

Altman Research is a company created by Career Excuse. What is Career Excuse you ask? It is a service that provides verifiable references to job seekers for a fee.  References from companies that do not exist. These fictional companies have websites, phone numbers and even emails, all manned by Career Excuse’s staff.

Co-founder of Career Excuse, William Schmidt, along his small staff will describe the strengths of your applicant, as well as verify fake work histories through cloud-based phone tree systems. They usually sound real enough to be believed, he describes. Schmidt goes as far as making the imaginary companies, and their fictitious executives, have LinkedIn and other social media accounts. Google searches can bring up the companies that have headers and a picture of the company. However, Schmidt says there are some limits. Career Excuse will absolutely not impersonate a government agency, lawyers or doctors. Nor will they pretend to be an actual company or person to provide references to anyone trying to work in an airport.

Career Excuse is amongst several fake referral services. If you have any doubts about reference checks, see how Background Check Central can help.

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