In doing research for an article about pre-employment scening,  I conducted an experiment involving  sites on the Internet that claim to do background checks.  I ran a Goggle search and was amazed at how many sites popped up...most claiming to be free.  I randomly selected 15 sites and, with the consent of my adult daughter, did a "background check" on her.  The first thing I noticed is they are NOT free.  Some allow a "free trial membership" but I had to submit my credit card information and other personal information for I could proceed.  Others would say there was a record of this person but, in order to get it, I had to pay.  That was a shock to me and my daughter that she had a record....she is not amused and will deal with them.

The problems here are obvious:  1) Potential customers have to devolve financial and personal information, and have no idea how secure the site is or how many people will see that information.  2)  Paying for something before you get it?  That is good at the gas pump, but in this case, not so much.  3)  These sites probably are not FARA, DPPA or HIPPA compliant.  4)  Because not all states have sunshine laws ( of the equivalent) the report may be incomplete.  To sum it up, I would be exposing my financial and personal information for data that I could not use or really trust. 

What is the solution then for effective and safe recruiting?  Contact a licensed private investigator who specializes in pre-employment screening.  Forget the persona of the typical PI seen on TV.  The fact is many states( Florida for one) have strict laws governing the profession-we are held to a much higher standard.  The private investigation agency is all so a consumer reporting agency (CRA) well versed in federal and state laws and use only private databases that are compliant, accurate and complete. Referring to my original concern, the client pays AFTER the background check is complete, all information on employer and applicant is held to strictest confidence with all rights protected.   

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

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Replies to This Discussion

Of course, there are also global vendors who specialize in background investigations specifically for the purpose of employment screening, which provide a tremendous value both in the integration of their services with HRIS/ATS platforms and in their experience navigating the state and federal, and international if need be, regulations and requirements for collecting, using, and managing this data.
  Most of these companies, and I don't know the specifics of your company,  not FCRA, DPPA, or HIPPA compliant and do not use compliant databases nor do they take the time to search civil records which is necessary to get all the facts about the applicant, nor do they provide the employer with the legally required release and information forms for employer and applicant.  In this litigious society, so it is important for an employer to have all the facts gathered in a legal fashion. 



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