Staffing Agency Criminal Background Checks: Don‘t be fooled!
Staffing agencies that claim to perform background checks on ALL of their employees, or will provide one free of charge, may sound like a very good thing for their customers. However, there are different types of background checks. Before you assume your staffing agency’s procedures meet your own “internal” procedures, there are several important questions that you should ask to protect your company:
How long ago was the criminal background check performed on the employee?
If a staffing agency‘s policy is to conduct a criminal background check on all newly hired temporary employees, this means there can be a significant period of time between when the check was completed and when the employee starts working for you. The only sure way for you to know the status of a temporary employee’s background is to run a consumer report just prior to commencing work at your site. This is the primary reason Matura Farrington’s background check policy is “client specific.” For our clients who require background checks, we run a consumer report at the time the client has selected the candidate so that we can obtain the most current report.
What type of criminal background check is the staffing agency conducting? There are several types of searches that background check companies can conduct. What many people refer to as a search in some type of “national database“ is really something called the Multi-State/Multi-Jurisdictional Criminal Locator (see details below). This is a very cost effective and quick way to conduct a criminal background search. However, using this system alone is highly inaccurate because it does NOT contain data from all jurisdictions in all 50 states, only 41. Although California is a reporting state, the accuracy and consistency of the information into the system by the reporting CA jurisdictions is not always adequate or timely. Therefore, this report should be used as a vital step in a complete report – not as the only step. (For your information, a more complete discussion of this type of report has been provided below by one of our background check vendors, ABSO Inc. (abso.com)
What is the most complete form of criminal background check?
Although there is no system that can assure 100% accuracy, the most effective system currently available is to complete the following steps:
- Step One – Social Security number verification: This report identifies an individual by checking over 600 million credit summaries for a matching SSN. Results include address histories, vital to the discovery of jurisdictions for the retrieval of criminal records. This search catches locations where an employee has resided but failed to state them on a background release form.
- Step Two – Criminal Record History:Using the SSN verification report along with stated current and former residences, a criminal history at the county, state or federal jurisdictional levels are conducted directly with the courthouses.
- Step Three – Multi-State/Multi-Jurisdiction Criminal Locator Search: This search is a query made using the applicant’s identifiers to a criminal records database containing a variety of criminal records and sex offender information from 41 states. When a potential match is found, it is returned as a jurisdiction to be searched without providing the underlying criminal information. Once the jurisdiction has been determined, it is added to the list of counties identified via the SSN/Address Verification and the background check is processed.
As with all services, there are costs associated with criminal background checks. To have a thorough investigation conducted, the costs will be obviously higher than simply performing the basic Multi-State/Multi-Jurisdiction Criminal Locator Search. Buyers beware – if a staffing agency states that a background check is included in the cost of their services, don‘t assume you are getting the protection your company requires. Know what you are getting by asking a lot of questions about exactly what level of protection you are receiving from your agency.
What is the Multi-State / Multi- Jurisdictional Criminal Record Locator? Information provided by ABSO – background screen services
This is a query made to a criminal records database, using the applicant‘s identifiers. This database contains information from 41 states. It consists of data obtained from the state based department of corrections, administrative office of the courts, bureau of criminal apprehension, office of foreign assets control, registered sex offenders and/or the department of criminal justice records, various county criminal records and data from other applicable government agencies, where available.
When a possible match is found, it is returned as a jurisdiction to be searched without providing the underlying criminal information. Once the jurisdiction has been determined, it is added to the list of counties determined by the Social Security Number/Address Verification and the background check is processed. This protocol is necessary under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. When a public record is used to make an employment decision, you can only rely on the current state of that record necessitating a contemporaneous verification.
AbsoluteHire‘s product is fully compliant and provides a very affordable, enhanced level of due diligence that can be incorporated into any company‘s employee screening program.
Don‘t use this search by itself
(Other background screening companies often refer to this or other like products as a “National“ search, which is a complete misnomer as none of these databases contain data from all jurisdictions in all 50 states).
To ensure FCRA compliance, AbsoluteHire will verify the accuracy of the most serious underlying criminal record at the county level, to ensure that it is the current and accurate state of the public record, before any information is reported. Although this search is FCRA compliant, AbsoluteHire strongly recommends against using it alone. When used alone, the Multi-State/Multi-Jurisdictional search does not provide adequate due diligence as it relates to protection against negligent hiring. This search should only be used in conjunction with a seven year jurisdictionally based criminal search (e.g. county court search) which is initiated from an SSN verification and address history search, checking all known jurisdictions where the applicant has resided in the past seven years.
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