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Jan 21 15

Conjunction Junction What’s Your (Compliance) Function

by Ken Lang
school house

School House Rock was Awesome!  Click the link below for the original Conjunction Junction video, this was a fun educational approach that just worked!

Background screening compliance requires the usage of Conjunctions every day and organizations must carefully consider the following “ANDOR and BUT” conditions:


When reviewing a criminal record to make a hiring decision, answer all of the following:

  • What is the nature and gravity of the offense?


  • How does the offense directly relate to the specific responsibilities of the position?


  • How much time has elapsed since the offense or completion of the sentence?

Take these into consideration in making your final determination as per the EEOC’s Revised Guidance on the Use of Criminal Records in Hiring Decisions.


If you decide not to hire someone:

  • Send a compliant Pre-Adverse Action notification to the individual who will be affected adversely.   Let them know that you have discovered a finding that will potentially exclude them from hire for this specific position, so that they have an opportunity to dispute the accuracy of the information and have an opportunity to challenge the finding.


  • A copy of the report and Summary of Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Next, send Adverse Action notification if there is no dispute received after a reasonable timeframe of at least 5 business days that a final decision has been made not to hire.
  • When you get a finding from an instant database search that would rule out a candidate use extreme caution!  Information empowers your organization to avoid potential risk to your customers, employees, vendors and your business…


  • You must first make sure that the information you are using is up to date and accurate as required by law.  Always verify the finding with the originating source of the information (often the County Court Record).  An instant database search does not meet the “Maximum Possible Accuracy” standard as outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and could put your company in hot water.

As you can see, it is not unusual to come across Conjunctions when trying to adhere to compliance in the screening of prospective and current employees AND it is critical to examine multiple facets of the law and whether they are strung together with “ANDOR and BUT” conditions.

To discuss School House Rock OR for more information pertaining to compliance or other aspects of background screening, please contact our offices at (888) 689.2000 or

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Jan 7 15

Does Nevada’s State Criminal Record Backlog Affect You?

by Business Development

The State of Nevada recently reported that there is a backlog in getting court disposition information added to existing Department of Public Safety arrest records – a backlog that won’t be cleared until 2018.  There are over 900,000 old records that are being reviewed and matched with arrests.

It appears that moving forward, all 78 state courts will be reporting existing disposition information to the state, but, it is not clear how long it will take new dispositions to be entered.  In fairness, this is not an unusual challenge for the states in their efforts to match arrest records with court dispositions since the arrest is an upstream event from the court process where the final determination in a case is made.

We often counsel our clients on the difference between the criminal state repository records and court searches.  Some wrongly assume they will get a more comprehensive search when they request state repository records, when in fact, in most states, they are likely narrowing their search scope to just arrests and those may lack disposition information such as this situation in Nevada.  In those cases, to determine the final outcome, a court search is necessary.  State records were historically used to enable law enforcement to view an individual’s rap sheet to ascertain the level of risk approaching a vehicle or person might pose based on an individual’s prior arrests, which is a much different use of this information from employers seeking to perform a comprehensive background check on current and prospective employees.  State criminal repositories are often the source used to do background checks for gun sales and other regulatory required employment background checks.  The information obtained through the court includes case filings from both arrests and events did not result in a formal arrest.  The court is also where the final disposition is determined, which makes it the most up to date and accurate version of the record.

The situation in Nevada is a perfect case in point that underscores the value of court searches and their critical importance to the background screening process.  Other criminal sources seek to supplement information after the fact with the court’s final say in each matter.

For more information on the various criminal records that are available and their differences, please contact our office at or (888) 689.2000.

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Dec 30 14

2014 The Year of Culture

by Ryan Cowsert

Over the past year I’m sure like me, many of you have attended webinars or events all focused on Culture. What is it? How do you define it? How do you create it? Why do some have it and some don’t? All great questions and it’s the big reason why culture has been named word of the year for 2014 by Merriam-Webster.

Merriam-Webster defines culture as the “beliefs, customs, arts etc. of a particular society, group, place or time.”  Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster explained it best during a recent interview with the Huffington Post when he referenced the book “How Google Works”, which includes a description of a software fix by a few engineers that made ads more relevant on the search engine:

“It wasn’t Google’s culture that turned those five engineers into problem-solving ninjas who changed the course of the company over the weekend; rather it was the culture that attracted the ninjas to the company in the first place.” I believe this is a great quote for many reasons, especially for HR professionals. As companies continue to grow, you need to realize that companies that are busting at the seams with great culture are attracting great talent.

Hopefully 2014 was a successful year for the organizations you represent and also personally. I feel that we can learn a lot from all the emphasis that has been placed on culture this past year and carry that into 2015.

Runner-up Words:

2. Nostalgia

3. Insidious

4. Legacy

5. Feminism

For more on Culture or to further discuss how Credential Check can assist with your screening program, please contact our office at 888-689-2000, or reach us by email at

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Dec 24 14

Holiday Statistics!

by Business Development
Happy Holidays

According to Gallup, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are the two happiest days of the year for Americans.  Since Christmas is upon us,
according to a Pew Research Center 2014 survey:

“What people look forward to most during Christmas” is:

  1. Spending time with family (75%)
  2. Eating holiday foods (60%)
  3. Hearing Christmas music in public places (45%)
  4. Exchanging gifts (45%)
  5. Decorating their homes (44%)
  6. Attending religious services (44%)

The 3 items least liked according to a Pew Research survey conducted last year (not included in this year’s survey)

  1. Commercialism/materialism (33%)
  2. Money/too expensive (22%)
  3. Shopping/crowds/crowded stores (10%)

86% of American’s purchase gifts, 1% mention shopping as what they look forward to most.

With this in mind, take a deep breath, enjoy the season, with whatever traditions you enjoy.  All of us at Credential Check wish you a wonderful holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate!



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Dec 17 14

Employers: It’s a Great Time to Review Your Background Screening Program

by Business Development

As we wind down the year, many companies take time to reflect on the year gone by and plan for the year ahead.  It’s a fantastic time to review your company’s workforce screening program before we head into the New Year.  In looking back at 2014 and considering the workforce screening landscape, we have seen a lot of activity and many recurring areas of non-compliance that resulted in lawsuits against employers.

Below are some of the Top Areas of Employer Non-Compliance that made our list for 2014.   Employers should take particular care in reviewing their program and policies and also ensure that it has undergone a review by legal counsel.

FCRA Violations

Disclosure and Authorization Form

This document must be separate from the application in a document or format that consists solely of the disclosure that a background check will be conducted along with the reason.  In addition to the federal requirements, there are several states that have their own specific mandates.

Adverse Action

The FCRA outlines a two-step process which includes required disclosures must be sent (with the copy of the report) in advance of an adverse decision being made and a follow up disclosure post decision if no claim of inaccuracy is made to close the loop on the process.  The Federal Trade Commission has opined that employers can outsource this process to their background screening partner.

Ban the Box

‘Ban the Box’ legislation continues to be a hot topic of conversation for employers due to the rapid fire adoption rate of varying flavors of this legislation across the country.   Ban the Box refers to the box on the application that inquires into a person’s criminal history.  It may say ‘Have you ever been arrested?’ or ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime’.  The underlying goal of ban the box legislation is to eliminate that question on the employment application.  The concern for employers is the patchwork of differing requirements across the country which makes compliance a challenge.

Blanket Policy

Employers with practices that automatically exclude candidates from consideration just for having a criminal history are at odds with the EEOCs guidance and current civil right laws.   For example, companies that proclaim “We don’t hire felons” could come under the radar of the EEOC.  In light of the EEOC’s guidance and their enforcement agenda, it is more important than ever to have a policy that details the workforce screening program by position and specifically details what type of convictions are disqualifiers.

Consumer Credit Reports in Hiring Decisions

The use of credit reports in hiring decisions has heated up given the state of the economy in recent years.   A number of states currently prohibit the use of credit reports in hiring decisions – with limited exceptions.  There has also been additional state and federal bill activity on the topic, which if passed could greatly limit employer’s ability to use a credit report as part of their hiring decision.

Form I-9

Many companies have multiple company representatives overseeing the completion of the Form I-9 and not all may be doing it consistently.  There are over 150 possible errors that can be made on this form and each is a finable action.  Many companies underestimate the potential outcomes for non-compliance.  To ensure consistency and that every field is completed, we’ve seen  many companies moving to an electronic Form I-9 solution that has error checking built in and can provide notifications when an employee’s work eligibility is going to change.

Misuse of E-Verify

E-Verify is a post hire process and information submitted should be obtained from information provided on the Form I-9 by the employee.  E-Verify is not to be used as a pre-screening tool to determine if an employee is eligible to work in the US or if their SSN matches the name they provided.  There are alternative identification products that can legally be used pre-hire.

Protect yourself as we head into the New Year by giving your policy the review it deserves.   At the rate we are seeing lawsuits being filed, the alternative is simply not a wise or inexpensive option.

If your organization has questions about employer responsibilities under the FCRA or to further discuss how Credential Check can assist with compliance requirements, please contact our office at 888-689-2000, or reach us by email at

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Dec 4 14

Tis the Season : Fast Paced Hiring for Retail

by Ryan Cowsert

November and December are typically boom or bust for retailers. When it comes to the holiday season, the urgency to hire new talent and get them trained before putting them in front of customers is at an all-time high. With the addition of seasonal workers, HR Managers in the retail setting often find themselves cutting corners within their hiring process to ensure the stores are prepared for the rush. Below we have provided a few items for retailers to consider leading up to the holiday crunch!

  • Online Systems – If your organization is still using the paper/pen method for applications, you’re behind the curve and need to understand that in order to move your hiring process along in a timely manner, the best place to start is automating your application. This is also a great place for you to post your most up to date job descriptions for which the positions you are hiring. This should help eliminate some of the candidates that feel they are interested but don’t know the fully story behind the role being offered. There are several companies that provide these services at a very reasonable cost.
  • Screening – Background screening is often viewed as a step that delays seasonal employees from starting, however that’s not always the case. Certain providers, such as CredentialCheck™ offer services focused on retail that can be completed within 24-48 hours.
  • Training – Training isn’t just prices and descriptions of your products, it’s far more in-depth than that. Create a training guide (if you don’t have one already for permanent staff) that will allow the employee to have a good understanding of your business and how their role affects the operation. This is a great time to review your key corporate policies and offerings as seasonal employees are eligible for the same rights as nonseasonal employees.
  • Handbook - All seasonal employees should be given a copy of your employee handbook and be required to sign a written acknowledgment confirming receipt of the handbook. Again, although their employment may be brief, they should still be aware of your expectations, particularly relating to discrimination and harassment. Again, requiring that all employees acknowledge receipt of the handbook at the initial point of hire ensures that these individuals will not fall through the cracks if they are converted to regular employees at the end of the holiday season.

During these busy months, it’s important to solidify your internal processes and make sure that each step is followed as in most cases, the ones you skip will be the ones that make you trip as an organization.

For more information on seasonal employees or other HR topics, contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or

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Nov 26 14

“Thanksgiving Comes Again”

by Business Development

Many of us are in the heat of strategic planning, budgeting, recruiting and open enrollment.  That makes Thanksgiving the perfect time to reflect and take a deep breath before we dive back into the thick of things after the holiday.

I read a book this year entitled “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner and it analyzed countries around the world to see which people were the happiest overall and why.  While there are no easy answers and I won’t give away the conclusions, one of the cornerstones was living a life of gratitude.  We thought we would share an appropriate poem about the holiday below:

All in a Word

By Aileen Fischer

T is for time to be together, turkey, talk and tangy weather.

H for harvest stored away, home, and hearth, and holiday.

A for autumn’s frosty art, and abundance in the heart.

N for neighbors, and November, nice things, new things to remember.

K for kitchen, kettles’ croon, kith and kin expected soon.

S for sizzles, sights and sounds, and something special that abounds.

That spells – THANKS – for joy in living and a jolly good Thanksgiving.

From the entire team here at Credential Check Corporation, we wish you and your family a wonderful, safe and fun Thanksgiving Holiday.

For more questions on this topic or even background screening or drug testing, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or

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Nov 18 14

New FTC Guide Educates Applicants and Employees About Background Checks

by Dawn Standerwick
FTC tips

The Federal Trade Commission has released a guide entitled Background Checks:  Tips for Job Applicants and Employees which is directed to individuals who are subject to a background check for employment purposes.  The 10 page piece illustrates what employers may ask, what can be expected and what rights the individual or consumer has in the process.  As expected, it also provides information for consumers to report any potential violation of the law or their rights to the FTC or the EEOC.

Professional screening firms, such as Credential Check, regularly educate both employers and applicants as to their rights and requirements and responsibilities under the law and sincerely want all involved in the process to be fully educated.  We agree that it is very important that individual rights are upheld and that the person being checked has a full understanding of what to expect.

The FTC has recently developed similar materials for employers in cooperation with the EEOC to help ensure that their screening programs don’t violate consumer protection laws or discriminate.  From the EEOC’s perspective, that also includes policies that can unintentionally create a disparate impact on certain protected classes.

It’s not surprising that the EEOC has weighed in on this guide and there are two areas that should be called out.

    1. The guide states that “some employers might say not to apply if you have a criminal record.  That could be discrimination” and provides contact information for the EEOC.  This is yet another clear warning to employers to be very careful about not having a blanket hiring policy which might be something along the lines of “we don’t hire felons”.  This is a stark example and there are many gray areas that could get employers in trouble.
    2. Even though the EEOC has, to date, not been successful in lawsuits filed against employers who treat all types of crimes the same for a given position, this portion of the guide clearly demonstrates that they have no intention of slowing down on their position of disparate impact.  One could surmise that they probably have no intention of slowing down on the lawsuit front.

Even if the employer treats you the same as everyone else, using background information still can be illegal discrimination. For example, employers shouldn’t use a policy or practice that excludes people with certain criminal records if it significantly disadvantages individuals of a particular race, national origin, or another protected characteristic, and doesn’t accurately predict who will be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee. In legal terms, the policy or practice has a “disparate impact” and is not “job related and consistent with business necessity.”

Employers should note that even if your policy is seemingly nondiscriminatory and treats all applicants the same, the EEOC may not necessarily see it that way.  Recent actions of the EEOC have been highly criticized by employer groups, governmental agencies, state attorney’s general and legislators.  As a result, employers should be aware and carefully review their policies and hiring practices with legal counsel.

For more information on this or any workforce screening topic, please contact our office at or (888) 689.2000.

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Nov 11 14

Publix to Pay $6.8 Million to Job Applicants in Most Recent Background Screening Class Action

by Ryan Cowsert

Super market store Publix has settled a class action lawsuit and is scheduled to pay $6.8 million to former job applicants. The lawsuit alleges that Lakeland-based Publix violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by not fulfilling the legally required disclosures in order to process background checks on job applicants.

Publix has denied any wrongdoing and issued a statement that it agreed to the settlement “because of the substantial expense of litigation… and the disruption to its business operations,” according to documents filed in conjunction with this matter. The settlement class includes over 90,000 applicants which will each receive approximately $48 after lawyers’ expenses.

The settlement includes candidates that applied for work at Publix and were subjected to a background check between March of 2012 and May of 2014. The lead plaintiff, Erin Knights, applied for a job with Publix in early 2013 through a kiosk inside a store in Tennessee. The process included an authorization for a background check but it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by not providing the disclosure in a separate document that consisted only of the disclosure.

Non-compliant disclosure and authorization forms have consistently made our list of top areas of employer non-compliance and have been the subject of several lawsuits.  This often overlooked aspect of the hiring process can be a slippery slope for companies regardless of whether they have a paper or electronic hiring process.  Employers of any size are strongly encouraged to review their application process and ensure there is a distinct separation between the application of employment and background screening disclosure forms.

If you have any doubts about your compliance, CredentialCheck offers a free compliance review for disclosure and authorization forms.  For questions on this or any or any other background screening related questions, please feel free to contact us at 888-689-2000 or

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Nov 5 14

An Uber Debate on the Regulation of Private Ridesharing Companies

by Dawn Standerwick

Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have been sprouting up in metropolitan areas sparking much debate about the lack of regulation for these companies.  One aspect of the debate is centered around the background screening and drug testing of drivers as well as whether they are subject to any other requirements such as insurance minimums.

A new bill passed by the Council in Washington DC will likely be the first of many across the country to address the growing concern of public protection with private “for hire” transportation.  To some extent the bill presents an ‘ask’ of these companies to adopt self-regulating stances on certain issues.  The bill does impose new commercial insurance requirements on private vehicles, requires a 7 year criminal background check, a check of any sexual offenses and a driving history.  It also requests that they adopt a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol, display some identifying banner or decal and allow access to investigate illegal conduct.  Part of the controversy is that these drivers are not subjected to the same requirements as a taxi company or their drivers.  Many feel the bill doesn’t go far enough or impose regulations that would adequately protect the public.

Companies like Uber are celebrating the passage of the bill because they feel that this bill has largely preserved their ability to do business in the current capacity without some of the regulation required by other types of “for hire” transportation, such as taxi cabs.

The Taxicab Commission has opposed this legislation and stated that “The bill deprives the Commission of the basic tools it needs to hold companies and drivers accountable for violations of basic safety standards and consumer protections”.

If you hire a personal vehicle to take you to a destination, would you expect the company to have done some due diligence in having their drivers background checked?  Would you expect that some minimum standards of insurance are in place in the event of an accident that was or was not the fault of the driver?  As a result of recent media attention, many of these companies claim to have adopted a background screening program that better meets expectations but have been slow to provide full details.  This could become another Ban the Box type issue where we see each city or state impose its own set of requirements that could make compliance a patch work nightmare of differing laws.

If you have any questions on this or any other topic, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or

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Oct 29 14

“Michigan Appeals Court Ruling on Medical Marijuana Effects Unemployment Claims”

by Ken Lang


This new ruling states that if an employee gets fired only for using medical marijuana then they qualify for unemployment benefits.  In essence, if you smoked marijuana under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and get fired for violating the company’s drug testing policy, you can collect unemployment until you find a new job.


The Michigan Attorney General’s office argued that the state law would protect a user of medical marijuana from being criminally prosecuted does not apply to civil disputes including state unemployment.  The court disagrees.  This does not mean that employers must change or stop enforcement of their drug free workplace policies,  however, if an employee is terminated, they will retain the right to collect unemployment.


This is great example of why it is so important for the HR professional to stay on top of the legislative impact on key policies such as unemployment and drug-free workplace policies.  Employers can still have Drug-free workplace policies and employees can still be fired for violating those policies.  We just need to realize that if the reason is smoking medical marijuana, it is now not a cause to deny unemployment.


For more questions on this topic, please contact our office at (888) 689.2000 or




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Oct 22 14

NAPBS Annual Conference Sessions Drive Home Importance of Compliance

by Business Development

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners hosted their 2014 Annual Conference earlier this week.  The conference had over 640 attendees and a sold out exhibit floor with 45 exhibitors.

The conference was an enormous success and offered a multitude of educational sessions.  The event was kicked off with key note speaker Shannon Miller, the most decorated gymnast in American history.  She delivered a motivational message underscoring the inevitable success that perseverance, dedication and passion bring.

Many speakers emphasized the importance of compliance and due diligence, which, for Consumer Reporting Agencies and employers includes a multitude of areas where compliant practices are of critical importance.  The knowledge we gain from this conference is one resource we count on to better assist our clients in navigating the complex regulatory landscape.  The sessions were informative and the speakers presented on an array of topics from FCRA, to substance abuse testing, to I-9 E-Verify to EEOC and Title VII.

Overall, the conference provided valuable insight into legislative and regulatory activities and provided an excellent opportunity to network with our fellow CRAs.  Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we share information from the conference on these topics.

For more information on this or any topic, please contact our offices at (888) 689.2000 or

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Oct 15 14

Is Your Background Screening Firm in the Loop?

by Dawn Standerwick
Due Diligence

Later this week, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) will host its annual conference in Denver, Colorado.   This organization’s success is particularly near and dear to us at Credential Check because we are a proud founding member with employees currently serving in leadership positions.  Throughout the tenure of this organization’s existence, Credential Check has been an active supporter and participant in carrying forward the mission of NAPBS.

NAPBS was formed by background screening companies in 2003 to promote ethical business practices and compliance with state and federal laws by Consumer Reporting Agencies (background screening companies) as well as to foster awareness regarding consumer protection and privacy rights.   What started out as a US based group has grown well beyond the borders of the United States now with established international chapters including Asia Pacific Rim Countries (APAC), Canada and Europe.  NAPBS has an accreditation program and those accredited companies have well demonstrated their commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement.

When selecting a professional screening firm it is vital that employers carefully evaluate their choice in a partner.  Class action lawsuits against employers related to their screening processes have become a trend (think about that for a moment – lawsuits for non-compliance have become a TREND).  With the proliferation of state, county and even municipal laws, the employer/screening firm partnership has become even more critical.  NAPBS members work to strengthen standards to be proactive in their awareness of legislative and compliance requirements that affect them as consumer reporting agencies as well as their employer clients.  Based on the countless legislative and public policy initiatives, education, meetings with key government agencies, conference sessions and best practice awareness, it is easy to see how a screening firm not associated with NAPBS could easily be out of the loop, putting all stakeholders at risk.

We embrace what NAPBS stands for and applaud the efforts of many who have strengthened our profession in countless ways by volunteering their time for the benefit of all companies.   Many businesses are safer as a result of the services provided by professional screening firms and to have a hand in the collective success of developing higher standards has been nothing short of inspiring.  We take pride in the time and effort we have contributed to this organization and to our profession.

It is our pleasure as a company to continue to support NAPBS and view our participation and membership as a value to our clients.

For more information about Credential Check or NAPBS, please feel free to contact us with any questions at (888) 689.2000 or

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Oct 7 14

2014 Michigan SHRM Conference – HR Amplified, Driven to Be…

by Ryan Cowsert

October proves to be an exciting time each year as the local HR community gears up for the Michigan Society of Human Resource Management’s (MI SHRM) annual conference. The conference is October 8th-10th, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan at the NEW COBO Center.

CredentialCheck® is very excited to be exhibiting! So, why should you be excited? With over 900 attendees, you’ll hear great speakers, earn recertification credits, learn and improve your professional skills, network, see exhibitor presentations and have fun! This conference offers something for HR professionals at all levels!

This conference provides CredentialCheck® with the unique opportunity to greet existing clients in person and to demonstrate our exceptional service and technology offerings to new clients.

In between the great keynotes scheduled, and fun evening events, we hope you’ll stop by our booth #317 and say hello!

For more information on this event or any topic, please contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or

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Oct 1 14

Maximum Possible Accuracy – Are You At Risk?

by Ken Lang

If you conduct a background check on a prospective employee, one very important aspect of compliance to be aware of is the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (FCRA) concept of “Maximum Possible Accuracy”.  Whenever a consumer reporting agency prepares a consumer report, it is required to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual.  Unfortunately, this question of “maximum possible accuracy” is not specifically defined and it tends to be settled in court.

Does an inexpensive database search provide maximum possible accuracy?

We continue to run into companies that use vendors that run only database searches and provide them at a very low cost.  These databases can be of value from a national perspective in casting a wider net but they also do not contain all jurisdictions which means they are by no means comprehensive and may not be updated consistently across the board.  You have to question that by using and not verifying these sources whether you are hiring someone who could be a danger to your customers and employees or a financial risk to your business not to mention inviting additional liability.  If you do get a hit against a database to ensure maximum possible accuracy the vendor must review the county court records (originating source of the record) to validate the finding.

Are you being supplied data that you can legally use?

Some background screening firms provide data that is taken out of context, irrelevant for the purpose, or that is simply reported because it was supplied by the source of the data.

What to do?

  1. If your price from your screening firm seems too good to be true,
    question the data sources, how often they are updated and the accuracy of the data.
  2. Know and approve the sources of the information your screening firm is providing to you.  Understand how often the various sources of data are updated.
  3. Select a vendor that is a member of the Concerned CRAs, they will ensure that if a hit on a database is encountered that the actual court records are pulled to maintain maximum possible accuracy.
  4. Look for a screening firm that has a structured review process in place to ensure data quality and reduce the likelihood that the information being received can legally be used for hiring purposes.
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Sep 24 14

Employers Underestimate Risk Posed by Their Extended Workforces

by Dawn Standerwick

What exactly constitutes an extended workforce?  An organization’s extended workforce includes contractors (temporary employees), volunteers, trainees, students and other persons who enter the workplace and perform duties.  For many companies, this intricate people web is one that delivers a number of benefits, but, many don’t realize that it also introduces significant risk if not managed properly.

Employers give careful consideration to the screening of their employees and for good reason.  They contemplate negligent hiring, the position, related job duties, legal requirements and elements that should be part of the background check as well as disqualifying factors.

  • Do any of your extended workforce personnel have access sensitive areas within your company?
  • Are they ever without direct visual supervision or come in contact with the public?  Other employees?
  • Do they have any decision making latitude or access to financial instruments? Intellectual property?

Shouldn’t their background check meet the same standard as your employees?  The bottom line goal of any screening program is to minimize risk for negligent hiring, ensure the safety of the workplace, customers and public as well as to comply with the law.  It is not disputed that companies that fail to conduct a proper background check expose themselves to significant liability.  Many companies underestimate that this is also true when it comes to their extended workforce.

An extended workforce may include temporary workers that come from a staffing firm, suppliers who perform work onsite as well as other types of sub-contractors.   Why would an organization with stringent requirements for their own employees not hold other onsite workers to the same standards?  I submit that many perceive the responsibility and liability to be on the staffing firm or the sub-contractor’s business while others simply find it a daunting task to manage such a program with proper oversight.   This perception of narrow liability and difficulty, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Employers should be aware that liability is likely for the majority of scenarios where criminal acts are carried out by members of their extended onsite workforces, particularly if an individual has a prior history of the behavior.  Case law in this area supports that employers have a duty to ensure a comprehensive background check has been conducted and in some cases may be considered as a co-employer.  In a co-employment context, the employer and the vendor’s firm share many of the same employment risks and responsibilities, which translates to liability for a deficient background check.

We educate our clients in this area and counsel them that they must go further than simply having a screening policy for their extended workforces.   They must ensure that those standards are being met and met consistently.  We recognize that without the proper tools, it can be difficult for companies to facilitate the oversight and management necessary to achieve this end goal.   The risk posed by a company’s workforce is certain, but, the difficulty in managing compliance doesn’t have to be.

CredentialCheck®’s CC-Verify solution has the ability to simplify, automate and manage all levels of vendor compliance for screening and training functions.   CC-Verify is a robust technology that enables companies to be certain their staff, suppliers and sub-contractors all meet required compliance objectives on an ongoing basis.  Multiple tiers of companies can be registered with automated indicators as to which employees have met the principal company’s background screening and training standards for a given time frame.   The solution is vendor neutral meaning that more than one background screening firm can be approved by the top level organization for use by sub-contractors and vendors.  CC-Verify is a complete lifecycle vendor compliance management solution that is instrumental in keeping workplaces safe all the way through the extended workforce and beyond.

For more information about Credential Check’s CC-Verify solution or to request a demonstration, please contact us at (888) 689.2000 or

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Sep 16 14

A Carousel of Liability

by Ryan Cowsert

Every year millions of people attend county and state fairs, whether it is for the elephant ears or the rides it’s always a great time! Recently state representatives in Washington have taken a step forward to ensure that these types of events aren’t just fun but safe.

Currently Massachusetts and Illinois are the only states to require sweeping background checks for all fairs and carnivals. Republican Rep. Liz Pike is looking to add Washington to that short list. Companies that provide the rides and entertainment have been allowed to screen their own candidates if they wish, but they are not required to. Funtastic an Oregon based company requires all employees assisting or working with events to be background checked and has been providing team members to the Washington Fair for many seasons.

It’s incredible to me that events that are attended heavily by children are not required to perform background checks including Sex-Offender searches on employees and volunteers. Incidents such as an event that happened last year in August when a 50 year old Washington Fair employee tried lure a 9 year old girl into a barn on the last day of the fair, is a prime example of the horror that can come from what should be a fun experience.

Even with the recent incidents, Washington is finding it difficult to pin-point a best practice for screening these individuals. In Illinois, fairs and carnivals are not tasked with performing the background investigations only ensuring that the individual has had one in the past. The question that continues to concern these employers and events is the funding. These fairs employ 400-1500 employees for a given season and they are concerned that the cost of doing criminal checks will cause fairs to be a thing of the past.

For more information on this topic and more, contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or

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Sep 10 14

Ohio SHRM Annual Conference – Sept. 17th – 19th, 2014

by Ken Lang

The Ohio SHRM Annual Conference is a great event for HR Professionals to exchange information, ideas and experiences. The theme this year is “HR Marathon, Setting the Pace for the Future.”

CredentialCheck® is excited about exhibiting at the upcoming event at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, OH. This conference provides us with the unique opportunity to greet existing clients in person and to demonstrate our exceptional service and technology offerings to new clients.

If you are attending, we hope you will stop by booth #3 in between the great sessions that are scheduled.

Enter to win a Coach Handbag!

For more information on this event or any topic, please contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or

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Sep 3 14

FCRA Lawsuits Against Employers Now a Rising Trend

by Dawn Standerwick

According to an article put out in August by SHRM, class action lawsuits against employers for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) are not just on the rise but are being considered an emerging trend.  For a law that’s been in existence for decades, we have recently seen an unprecedented number of employers realizing the hard way that compliance with this law is not to be taken lightly.  The SHRM article was drawn on a report by Littler Mendelson and provides a comprehensive summary of recent class actions against employers.

The FCRA seeks to protect consumers from the potential devastating impacts of misuse and inaccurate information and puts into place protocols for consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) as well as the users of consumer reports to follow.  The FCRA imposes requirements upon consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”), in many cases a background screening firm, that collects and compiles consumer information into consumer reports for use by credit grantors, insurance companies, employers, landlords, and other entities in making eligibility decisions affecting consumers.  It also regulates the use of these reports by these organizations who obtain these reports and imposes other specific responsibilities they must carry out as well.

Most companies know that to provide a safe work environment for their employees and the public and to minimize negligent hiring risks, that performing a background check is a vital business element on several levels.  For one, courts have ruled that employers have a general duty to conduct a background check and state and/or federal law may also dictate a specific check must be performed.  It is imperative that the background check was conducted according to best practices, is compliant with the law and is properly validated for accuracy.  The good intentions many employers have to perform a background check can go sideways quickly if the letter of the law is not followed.

From a broad perspective, employers have a number of responsibilities under the FCRA.  There are requirements before a background check is even requested and if the information is used to make a decision that adversely affects a consumer, another set of processes and disclosures must ensue.  We’ve talked a lot in the past about the maximum possible accuracy standard which the CRA must ensure but arguably, employers also have a duty to ensure the information they are buying from their screening firm meets this standard.

Noted in the Littler report is a breakdown of class actions filed this year to be no less than 27 with cases highly concentrated in California, Florida, Georgia and Missouri among others.   Some of the settlements include:

  • National pizza delivery chain – $2.5 million settlement
  • National retailer – $3 million settlement
  • Transportation company – $2.75 million settlement
  • Transportation company (different) – $4.4 million settlement
  • Transit provider – $5 million + settlement

The report notes that the most frequent claims against employers included issues with their disclosure form and failure to follow adverse action processes as mandated by the FCRA.  These two items also topped our list of Top Areas of Employer Non-Compliance in their workforce screening programs.

There are many things employers can do to ensure compliance under the FCRA.  Many rely on their background screening partner, in part, to assist in their compliance efforts.  A background check is very important, but, just as important is having a consistent, repeatable process in place to ensure legal compliance and that appropriate care is taken to uphold the rights of consumers as required by law.

For more information on this or any of our topics, please contact Credential Check at (888) 689.2000 or

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Aug 26 14

Employers: Do You Follow Your Own Policies?

by Ryan Cowsert
IRS Building

The IRS is known for several things from your taxes, W2’s, 1099’s and your annual refund check at the end of the year if you’re lucky enough to get money back. More recently the IRS has found themselves at the center of an investigation for exposing millions of taxpayers to an increased risk of fraud and identity theft.

In one case, the IRS gave a printing contractor a computer disk with names, addresses and Social Security numbers of 1.4 million taxpayers, but didn’t require a background check for anyone who worked on the job. This however is not the first time the IRS failed to screen their contractors. In 2013 the IRS utilized a courier who previously had spent 21 years in prison for arson and other criminal convictions.

IRS policy requires contractors with access to confidential taxpayer information to undergo background checks, though the policy wasn’t always followed, the report said. About 10,000 private contractors have access to this type of data.

From a study in 2012 the IRS issued $4 billion dollars in fraudulent tax refunds to people using stolen identities, according to an inspector general’s report released last year. That same year the IRS blocked more than $12 billion in fraudulent refunds from going to identity thieves.

Inspector General J. Russell George’s team of investigators reviewed 34 IRS contracts that were active in May 2013.  They found five contracts in which no background checks were required, even though contractors had access to confidential information, which is labeled “sensitive but unclassified.” These contracts were for courier, printing, document recovery and sign language interpreter services.

This is a poor example of the level of due diligence that is expected from organizations who interact with consumers’ personally identifiable information in the course of their business.  It’s even more concerning when it comes from a governmental agency such as the IRS but, what’s perhaps the most troubling is that there is a policy in place that isn’t being followed.   The first step is to have a policy and the next is to follow it.  It is meaningless to have a policy if it isn’t enforced.

For questions regarding this post or other screening topics, please contact our offices at (888) 689.2000 or

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