Performing background checks is the first step to safeguarding your employees and business. While it may seem like an easy thing to do on your own in the age of modern technology, it can be incredibly risky to screen potential and current employees without the guidance of a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA). CRAs are professionals in navigating the compliance standards for employment screening and utilize their knowledge of state and federal laws to provide consumer reports lawfully. If you can use the experts to protect your business, why don’t you? Let’s explore the risks you face when executing do-it-yourself background checks.
Risk of Violating Government Regulations
The federal government stipulates what information can and can’t be used when making a hiring decision. These guidelines are compiled into the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which accredited Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) use to direct their investigations, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Because the information included in a consumer report, or background check, is public record, it may seem like a more economical decision to conduct screenings on your own. But, staying compliant is paramount for business owners. While the policies within the FCRA govern CRAs and are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), every business needs to adhere to the laws enforced by the EEOC regardless of how they receive their consumer reports.
The laws and regulations are constantly changing. Can you keep up compliance while trying to perform your job responsibilities efficiently? Plus, you run the risk of acting on information that may not be grounds for making employment choices.
Risk of Viewing the Wrong Person
When running background checks, CRAs utilize Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to confirm they are reviewing the correct person’s information. Background research can be complicated, and if you perform a DIY screen without PIIs, you may end up viewing information not associated with your candidate. Without PIIs, like social security number, address, and date of birth, it can prove difficult to know you’re researching the correct person. And when it comes to common names, the search just becomes more difficult.
Risk of Viewing Protected Class Information
Employers are prohibited from making hiring decisions based on protected class information. But what exactly does that mean?
According to federal law, protected class information includes race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, military or veteran status, and age (40 or older). State protected classes may vary, but common ones include marital status, gender identity, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS status.
Armed with this knowledge of protected class information, you may feel ready to conduct consumer report on your own. However, it is not possible to forget what has already been seen; imagine you are performing a self-guided background check on a candidate. While researching the person, you find they were involved with a religious organization with views you find disagreeable. Whether you intend for it to or not, this information may now factor into your hiring decision.
Risk of General Bias
Do-it-yourself background checks also run the risk of additional biases. Though only certain information is federally illegal to be used in an employment decision, you may come across material that sways your judgment one way or the other.
The best way to avoid bias is to outsource your screening to an accredited CRA, like ESS. Highly trained analysts will review the information and report back only actionable information that has been cross-checked for quality assurance. Performing your own background checks is not worth the risks involved.
Are you ready to implement a professional background screening procedure? Contact ESS at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started and minimize the risk of your hiring practices.