3 Things to Consider When Conducting an Accurate Background Check

The Huffington Post ran an article titled, Background Check Companies With Little or No Accountability Are Costing Job Seekers. It outlined the problems with using shoddy online background check services that spit out unreliable, and often inaccurate, results. These inaccuracies can cost people potential jobs. They can also place businesses in jeopardy if they hire an employee who is dishonest or has a criminal record which went unnoticed by unqualified background check entities. Common errors involved turning up records for a different person with a similar name, not paying attention to records which had subsequently been cleared or wiped clean by the courts, and/or misclassifying crimes as being worse than they actually were. This information should make employers wake up and realize the importance of ensuring that background checks are accurate.

Complete and Accurate Background Checks Matter

If you are interested in a complete background check, then you make sure you hire a background check company that takes pride in producing the most complete and accurate information available.

  1. Hire a Credible Entity. There are no laws governing the agencies which advertise background search or background check services. Internet access has tricked people into believing that any information you need to find regarding someone else is available for free or for a low price. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many public databases are not kept up to date. Incomplete or erroneous records may be sold and the buyer (aka the search agency you hire) may not review the records thoroughly to suss out the bad information from the good. Without an accurate background check, your money has been thrown down the drain and your company, family, or personal assets could be at risk. When you are looking into background check agencies, consider using a licensed private investigator, or a company that is backed by some kind of licensing agency. Do they have a professional website? Have they written/blogged intelligently about the issue? Can you talk to a real person who educates you about the types of information they will be searching for and why? These can help you to sort out the "good background checkers" from the bad.
  2. It's Not Free. Sorry folks, but if your prospective background check company advertises, "Free Background Checks," you can move on down to the next one on your list. There are cases where a young adult may have only lived in one or two locations and has no public record, in which case a background check may be simple. But in more serious and thorough searches, such as those used for pre-employment screening, caretaker background checks, nanny background checks, or for employees who will have access to valuable or sensitive information, a complete and accurate background check takes time and expert analysis. Time equals money. A good, solid, and thorough background check should cost you a bit of money. That being said, most professionals who perform background check services will be willing work with clients to meet their budgetary needs, or will reduce their fees for checks that are done on multiple individuals.
  3. Play Leap Frog. In most cases, people run a background check in order to verify a person's educational and professional history and to make sure they do not have a criminal record(s). There are few things you may want to focus in on depending on the type of person you are researching and/or the type of position they are applying for. In most cases, background checks are done to verify the previous 7 - 10 years of an individual's life. However, there may be times where you are hiring a middle-aged person whose educational life is well behind them. In that case, consider "leap frogging" through their past and use the background check services to verifty certain facts:
    • If education is a requirement for the job, make sure that your background check verifies they were honest about the schools they attended, the degree/honor(s) they received, and that they actually graduated and/or received a diploma/certification.
    • If their employment experience is key, make sure you have proof they worked where they say they did and earned what they say they earned. You would be amazed at how many companies don't verify this information and hire people who lied to get the job. This may require honing in on certain periods of their life, rather than a seamless 7-10 year stretch.

In many cases, background checks are used to promote the well being of someone else. This is especially true for nanny background checks, or those run on caregivers for the elderly. They are also important when people use background checks before getting married or to provide evidence for a child custody case. Shoddy results can mean someone else's suffering down the road. Make sure you go the extra mile if you need an accurate background check to help you make important personal and/or professional decisions.

Mike Garroutte is a licensed private investigator in Newport Beach. He has been working as a private investigator in Orange County and Los Angeles County for more than 30 years.

Published on: 
November 1, 2012
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