Mobile Teleshoppe - Keeping the World Safe

Mobile Teleshoppe - Keeping the World Safe/
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Background checks in an open environment

At Mobile Teleshoppe we are often asked why we require an employee’s mailing and e-mail address before displaying reports. For an answer to this, we need only to look at a recent class action lawsuit filed against an employer: Amazon Hit With Another Background Check Class Action Lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Amazon initially offered Theo Feldstein a job. They then ran a background check on him through Accurate Background Inc. In this case, accurate was a misnomer — there were criminal convictions incorrectly listed on the report. Amazon withdrew the job offer, without giving him a chance to get things corrected, or providing him with a copy of the report as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Feldstein claims he “happened to find out” that a background check had been received on him by Amazon. (It’s been a bad year for Amazon: a similar lawsuit was filed in April 2015.)

This is not the way things are supposed to happen. Job applicants have the right to know that they have been investigated, and that negative information may have been provided. The sad fact is, public records are imperfect. With thousands of county courts across the country, many of them not automated, errors can and do occur. Even worse are problems of identity confusion; as social security numbers are increasingly removed from case records, the risk of finding someone else with the same full name, date of birth, and even residence history increases.

How can we fix this? Follow the law, let your applicants know what is going on, and give your applicants a fair chance to make corrections. A good place to start is the summary of FCRA obligations.  Organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management can help you development a consistent HR policy.

*We are not lawyers; this article should not be considered legal advice.

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By |March 2nd, 2016|Employment screening, FCRA, Legal|0 Comments

Tell customers about your background check policy

The other night, a friend told me about a debate in his homeowners’ association. Some members wanted the association to require contractors to certify that they conduct criminal background checks on all new hires. Others think that’s extreme.

My friend asked me what I thought. I referred him to the Sue Weaver CAUSE website. They can make their point better than I can.

August 27, 2001, Sue Weaver was brutally raped and beaten to death by a twice convicted sex-offender hired to do service work in her home. Sue had contracted with a major department store to have the air ducts in her home cleaned. Burdine’s did not conduct criminal background checks on those workers they sent into their clients’ homes. Sue’s life is over. Had a criminal background check been done, Sue might still be alive today. The Sue Weaver C.A.U.S.E. was created to promote Consumer Awareness of Unsafe Service Employment.

The organization makes two very good points on the site. First, criminals often use their employment to find their next victim. And, second, “bonded and insured” doesn’t mean that a background check has been done.

That’s a good case. Make sure companies you do business with and who will send people into your home are looking out for your safety.

And, if your business does a criminal background check on everyone you hire, it’s something you should be telling your customers about. After all, you’re helping look out for their safety.

By making sure that a national criminal background check is part of the process for everyone you hire, you’re doing something to keep your employee and your customers safe. So tell people about it. It can also be a way to set yourself apart from your competition.

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By |May 21st, 2010|Background checks, Criminal checks, True crime|0 Comments

Lessons from the federal government

The Federal Drive, a show on Federal News Radio recently offered the following advice to job seekers: Background check in your future? Don’t lie! One of the things that I got out of the material is the difference between the federal government and other employers.

The show included comments from Debra Roth. She’s a partner in the firm of Shaw, Bransford and Roth, that specializes in Federal employment law. Here’s just one comment. “Lying to the federal government almost always, in current times, will get you criminal charges.”

That’s probably not true for your company. The biggest stick you’ve got is that lying on an application is cause for termination. But there is something that the feds do can make your hiring and background check process more effective.

The government uses questionnaires to gather information. That’s a good process for two reasons.

First, it assures that you ask the same questions in the same way every time. And the answers will be in the applicants own handwriting, so there’s no chance of “misquoting” as can happen when you ask the questions in an interview and write down the response.

Here’s another idea you can use. The feds use two different questionnaires.

There’s form SF 86 (Questionnaire for National Security Positions) and form SF 85 (Questionnaire for Non-sensitive Positions). You can do something similar.

Obviously, you don’t have any “national security positions” at your organization. But you do have positions with access to money or to confidential records.

Creating separate forms and process for sensitive (access to money or to confidential records) and non-sensitive positions allows you to ask different questions and run different checks based on the position. That should make your process more effective and consistent, which is a good thing in today’s lawsuit-happy world.

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By |May 17th, 2010|Employment screening, Government|0 Comments

The danger of not checking

PI Newswire, a news service for private investigators, splashed the following headline across the screen of my computer. Jury Finds Housing Authority Negligent in Elderly Woman’s Murder after Tenant Background Check Misses Neighbor’s Criminal Past. Here’s part of the lead.

A jury recently ruled that negligence by the Housing Authority in a North Carolina city led to an elderly woman’s death at the hands of her crack cocaine addicted neighbor in 2007.

The sons of the woman asked for more than $10 million in damages. The “negligence” was not conducting a proper background check on the neighbor. If you’re a landlord or you hire people, there are three lessons about background checks you can learn from this story.

You can be sued for not conducting a proper background check if a person you select as a tenant or a person you hire commits a crime of violence. If you lose the case, the award could be huge.

“Proper” means doing a check using a reputable service like Mobile Teleshoppe that offers national coverage. The Housing Authority did a background check, but it was only of North Carolina records.

You should have a standard procedure to check out prospective tenants and employees. If you don’t, put that at the top of your To Do list. Your procedure should include background checks and other steps to keep the dangerous and deceitful away from the good people who rent from you or work for you.

Once you have a procedure, follow it. Use checklists and other simple aids to make sure you do all the steps in the proper order every time.

This isn’t just about preventing lawsuits. It’s about protecting the people who rent from you and the people who work for you.

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By |May 13th, 2010|Background checks, Criminal checks, Tenant screening, True crime|0 Comments

Organizational justice

The April 2010 issue of Risk Management has a great article titled: Finding and Fixing Corporate Misconduct. After noting reports that misconduct had declined during 2009, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) says the following.

According to the results from more than 300,000 employees in over 75 countries, this “decline” in misconduct during 2009 is actually misleading, as it pertains to less severe and risky behaviors such as the misuse of company resources or other ‘inappropriate behavior.’

In other words, no matter what you may have heard, there’s pretty good evidence that more serious forms of misconduct actually increased last year. What can you do about it?

The CEB says that you want to create a “culture of integrity.” And the most important thing to count on is what they call “Organizational Justice.” Basically, it’s the perception among employees that you mean business about your standards and rules.

The CEB suggests three steps for creating an atmosphere of organizational justice. Here they are with my idea of what that means in an everyday, practical sense.

(1) Equip managers to decisively deal with unethical behavior.

Equipping managers means giving them the tools to hire smart, including a background check for any position of trust and pre-employment or routine credit checks for appropriate positions. It also means supporting managers when they make tough calls.

That’s the sort of thing you read often on this blog. But the CEB’s next two steps are also important and don’t get nearly enough attention.

(2) Show the whole employee population-using real instances from within the company-that the company deals decisively with misconduct.

You can’t skirt this one. The only way that your people will know you’re serious is by what you do. Talk will only take you so far.

(3) Close the loop with employees who report misconduct so that they know that appropriate actions were taken.

There are two big reasons why honest employees don’t report wrongdoing. They may see it as dangerous. And they may see it as a waste of time. Keep them safe. Make sure they know that their conscientious behavior had a result.

At the end of the day, this is all about walking the walk. If you do that, it will make your talk about honesty and integrity more powerful. If you don’t that talk will just be empty words.

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By |April 27th, 2010|Uncategorized|0 Comments