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Employee background checks that verify the integrity of candidates constitute an important component of the recruitment process, for hiring unscrupulous persons can have disastrous consequences for the business. The process of what is checked in a background check for employment varies among organizations, but usually consists of verification of employment and educational history and checks of the candidate’s criminal and financial history.
Hiring professional investigators to undertake a comprehensive background check is expensive, and usually outside the budget of most small businesses. A combination of smart strategies and leveraging free and inexpensive resources however help conduct the background check in a cost effective matter with a reasonable degree of accuracy.
Image Credit: openphoto.net/Adrian van Leen
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The internet is a good place for employee background checks that can be done before job hunting or hiring. The candidates profile on social networking sites and online resumes submitted in job portals provide a ready source to check for the consistency of information provided by the employee. Contradictions in jobs and education listings at different places are the sure sign that the candidate is hiding something.
Employers can email the human resource department of the candidate’s previous employers directly to check for the candidate’s tenure, title, duties and any other information. Most universities also have online databases to check the authenticity of the candidate’s educational claims.
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Leveraging Free Sources
Much of the information provided by background check investigators and agencies after charging hefty fees are actually available for free provided the employer undertakes such tasks in-house and knows where to look for such information.
Judicial web sites lists criminal and civil records, and checking the candidate's name in such records in the home state and neighboring states give a general indication of the candidate’s criminal background. A comprehensive check of possible convictions however requires a country wide search of county and judicial offices, which is outside the scope of independent businesses.
The local police or sheriff's department is a good place to ascertain the candidate’s criminal background. Advanced checks with agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, tax check program offered by Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Suspicious Activities Report System (SARS) all require fees. The employer making such checks directly will have lower costs compared to entrusting the same to third party agencies.
The town assessor's office also supplies online field cards for all the property in the town, making it a good source to verify the candidate’s address.
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Many companies, mostly online sites that offer various background checking services, offer databases. These companies gather data on people and lists, such as criminal conviction lists and others from many public sources, compile the information into databases, and sell that database. The few reputable background check databases charge a good fee, have a responsive customer support and offer a money back guarantee. The vast majority of such websites that offer such background check services for free or at cheap prices are however scams and offer old, outdated, or wrong information. Some of such sites also violate privacy rights.
Finally, regardless of the pre-employment screening method, the law stipulates securing the employees consent before undertaking the background check. Undertaking criminal and consumer credit checks or reference checks using third-parties attract the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.