Perform a Background Check that Won’t Backfire

When making a hiring decision, it’s generally a good idea to check the information each applicant provides before you make the job offer. After all, some people give false or misleading information, and others hide facts about their past that might disqualify them from getting the job.

However, workers have a right to privacy. And an illegal background check could land you in hot water, or worse, with a lawsuit. Here are tips on how to complete a thorough background check within the limits of the law.

Regardless of which methods you choose, make sure you keep inquiries related to the job. Stick to information that is relevant to the position for which you are hiring. Also, ask for consent. Ask the applicant, in writing, to consent to any background check. Explain clearly what you plan to check and how you will gather the information. If an applicant refuses to consent to the request, you may legally decide not to hire the worker on that basis.

Check Credit History
To gain a glimpse into the financial stability of an applicant, contact one of the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion for a credit report. With a signed release from the individual, it is legal to access this information as long as you can prove you need it for the benefit of a business transaction, employment purposes or granting of a professional license.

Check Criminal Records
The only national database for criminal records is the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, and it’s unavailable to the public. So in order to find out if an applicant has a criminal record, you must consult your county and state officials. Technically, you can demand the information by letter or phone, but a response could take some time, and it might not be the information you want. Go to the courthouse if you need an immediate answer.

Double-Check their Resume
Make sure to follow through on past employment references listed. Call previous employers to ask their opinions of the applicant, and don’t be shy to ask for some type of proof of employment. While you’re at it, contact the applicant’s alma mater to verify their diploma, and check with any associations to verify if they are properly licensed.

Check Google
Visit Google and explore the Internet to see what the world has to say about the applicant. When you’re finished, search them again with another search engine. While search engines provide a quick way to research someone’s background, it’s the least accurate method on this list, as there could be other people with the same name as the applicant.

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