We staff primarily in the Medical field, so a background investigation is relevant to just about every position we staff. If we are staffing a position and a background search is done via the County Index search, prior to the formal (ie: retained by a separate Screening Company); and something shows up, we could save ourselves and the client time & money.
Our candidates sign a release and authorization of investigation on our application. My question is; as most counties Criminal Record file is public information; are there legal ramifications to checking if this person has a record on file, instead of going through a formal background company, as an initial search?
As the co-founder of a background checking company, I thought I would answer your question. The short answer is yes you could. However, there are approximately 1,200 counties with access portals. In total there are some 3,200 counties in the United States, so you wouldn't have access to a couple thousand counties that way. With some counties, there are discrepancies on the portals. Either the records haven't been updates, the case numbers are confused, or they are not really case numbers at all. From time to time we see charges attributed to the wrong Joe Brown or Jose Garcia.
In terms of the portals being FCRA compliant, many say yes, retrieval through the portals is just fine. Others questions whether it meets compliance standards or not. I'll leave that issue for someone else.
The last thing, if there are serious criminal records, with a CRA they can go back to the court and get certification of the court records or actually pull the case file or docket. On the portals, you take what's given.
I know of recruiters who like to do it themselves. They save money and in some cases they even save time. But at the end of the day you just have to be careful that you get what you pay for.
I appreciate your response. As we realize that there are many occurences of inaccurate information this is in no way a "final" background check - we leave that to the professionals. This is just a way of peeking before we incur the cost. That way, if an inital concern does come up, we can address it immeidately.
Thank you again for your response.