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Background checks on basic public information

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I work a part-time job as an admin assistant. I’ve been asked to develop and create the ability to run background checks on prospective and current employees and vendors and obtain basic public information. However, the company I work for is small, and they do not want to sign up for a service or pay monthly fees for each piece of information. What I am looking for is a way to manage this in-house and build this into an internal database that we would use to manage our contacts. Our employees and vendors present their driver’s license and social security numbers for the onboarding process. What resources are available, and how do you suggest that I develop this?

Running background checks on employees and vendors ensures that you obtain all information needed to make better decisions regarding the people that will manage valuable resources and assets. This technique has gained popularity in this current Information-Era that we live in where we want to know as much as possible about those that we interact with on a regular basis. This is seen in business and even in personal settings such as parents looking to see who is babysitting their children. However, before running background checks and gaining access to public information, practices and policies should be developed to ensure that you do this well and that the process and information meet your goals and expectations.

Conforming with the Law

First and foremost, businesses that perform background checks to make decisions on hiring need to inform the applicant that such a process will be performed. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates that applicants be aware that the information may be used to make a decision and must sign and approve such an action. Employees must also be aware, if you intend on continuously running these types of reports while they are employed. Also, state laws differ from state to state. In some states, employers are given a bit more power and are even provided incentives to run background checks.

Performing Criminal Record Checks

Some states makes it rather easy to look up information on criminal records via their online resources and public records. You may have to pay a small fee. Your state may offer options to perform searches for sex offenders and predators. These type of record lookups are relatively simple to conduct and instantly provide search results. You can create practices that include these types of lookups and add the information you obtain to your database.

Other Public Information Available

Marriage and property records are publicly available; however, this type of information is not provided by the state. Instead, each county will have public searches available through their respective departments, and what is available can vary by county. You can obtain information on property records, marriage certificates, and other public records. For instance, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides users with the ability to obtain driver records. Finally, you can also access a reverse phone lookup service and obtain other information. Together, all this information, along with accessing credit information, can provide a good deal of detail on the candidate or person in question.

Protecting Privacy

The amount of information readily available online and in accessible databases is overwhelming. Hackers are increasingly targeting businesses and other organizations that may compile data that can then be used for identity theft, credit card fraud, and other illegal activities. Therefore, it is the obligation of each organization to protect the confidentiality and privacy of any applicant or person whose information is obtained and stored. We would highly recommend encrypting results and ensuring that the information is protected to guarantee the privacy of applicants and your current employees. Destroy any unused or unrelated records or of applicants whose records are no longer needed. Use the golden rule of respect and treat each piece of information as you would like or require others to treat yours.

Finding a Qualified Professional Screener

We know that you want to do this on your own just using publicly available information; however, depending on how many employees and vendors you want to screen, this may become a bit overwhelming. Overall, you may spend more time and money on the do-it-yourself approach. Additionally, you must consider the different systems needed to encrypt and protect information. Ultimately, you can end up saving time and money. Look through the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, where you will find a list of professionals and organizations. Sometimes it is better to hire a reputable company that specializes in certain processes. The upfront costs may end up being a lot lower long term.

Final Thoughts

Many times, individuals prefer the DIY (Do it Yourself) approach. In a small scale, this is often a great approach, as it is less expensive and can be customized to meet specific needs and criteria. On a large scale, however, the hidden costs can render the process unnecessary and costly. For example, think about hourly wages, paper costs, and the hassle spent on each record. Now, multiply that by the number of searches. If this is too high, it may be time to hire a professional. Otherwise, DIY is a great place to start. One advantage is that the knowledge obtained by doing it yourself will help provide guidelines as to what to look for when outsourcing the services to a professional or organization.

“If you own this story you get to write the ending.” — Brene Brown

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Background checks on basic public information