Background and Credit Checks are a Goldmine of Information
By Cindy Schroeter Graham
day and age it may be prudent to glean whatever information we can
about a potential employee or business partner.
Credit checks and background checks can provide a wealth of
information, from how a person handles their finances to criminal
records. How this information is used and secured by a company could
determine whether the company is compliant with privacy policies and
secure information handling.
conducting or reviewing a background check has access to information
that could be devastating if it ended up in the wrong hands. If the
information is lost, stolen or otherwise determined to be used for
identity theft or fraud, it could result in fines up to $2500,
according to the FACT Act.
practical to consider implementing secure information handling
procedures when personal information is obtained, handled and stored. Here
are some suggested guidelines to ensure the privacy of information
obtained from or for employees and applicants.
who will have access to employee information. This applies to
information gathered prior to and following background checks.
Will a background check be conducted on all applicants? If not,
make it a practice not to collect a social security number until you have
determined whether the applicant qualifies for the position in all
for securing information. Once the information is obtained,
implement safe handling procedures. Determine how long the
information will be left unsecured and where the information will
be kept secure. Information left unattended on a desk should be an
for accessing the information.
Determine who will have access to the information
files. Consider a log for recording when the files are accessed,
by whom and why. If
your company maintains a large volume of employee files, consider
a dual control access system, which provides accountability and
monitors the person gaining access to the information.
for destroying information. Information
that is no longer needed should be properly destroyed as stated in
the FACT Act. Proper destruction goes beyond putting the document
through a shredder. It includes where the document is kept prior
to being shredded. Is it kept in
a box under someone’s desk? Or is it in a locked bin or
locked storage room.
checks come in a variety of details as well as cost, from basic credit
checks to full comprehensive searches. The duties of the employee and
the type of information he/she will be handling may help determine
what type of background check is sufficient.
Ask a few
questions to start with.
Why do you need or want a background check?
What type of information are you looking for?
Will the information determine whether or not the
employee is hired?
Will the information determine what job functions
the employee will have?
What details within a report will determine a
positive or negative review?
Here is a
non-comprehensive list of the information available through background
checks which range from about $10 to $125.
Criminal background check
Credit Bureau reports
Marriage and divorce records
State and federal court records
Address and phone history
Roommates and relatives
As you can
see, the information available can be very personal.
It is vital that this information be kept as secure as
possible. Unless you plan on running a check on every potential
employee you should not collect personal information, such as a Social
Security number, driver’s license number or birth date, from every
job applicant. Privacy policies should be implemented to safeguard any
personal information on file, whether a new applicant or current
you have decided the employee meets all other qualifications should
you ask for a Social Security number to run a background check. To
help determine which potential employees will require a background
check consider the following questions.
What type of information will the employee be handling?
Will the employee handle personal information?
Will the employee be handling money?
Will the employee be accountable for time accessing
employee will not be handling any sort of secure information or money,
consider doing a basic background check to determine the reliability
of the candidate. An address and phone history may be sufficient to
determine whether the employee will stay around or not. Don’t base
your decision solely on the contents of these reports. Unforeseen
calamities can befall us all. Interview the candidate to further
explain any questions or concerns you have.
The candidate may have had problems in the past and has been
working hard to correct them.
the employee will handle money or private information of any sort,
consider more extensive background checks. The more valuable the
company information, the more critical the loss to the company could
be. Personal information should be considered as valuable as cash. If
you wouldn’t want your cash, or daily deposit, lying out or kept in
an unsecured area then don’t allow sensitive employee or business
information to be left unsecured either.
trustworthiness of the employee should be considered if he/she will be
handling private information. Reviewing background checks for criminal
activity, moving from place to place or the inability to handle their
own finances, could lead to temptations to misuse company funds or
have been known to lure employees into selling vital personal
information. Employees may reason that they are not really doing
anything wrong with the information, but the end results prove
employees and strict privacy policies and secure information handling
procedures are necessary to help fight the battle against identity
theft, fraud and misuse of information.
Read other articles and learn more
about Cindy Schroeter Graham.
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and