Authored By W.Barry Nixon, SHRM- CMP
Relying on the FBI to run accurate background checks could cause harm to your business. Many believe that the FBI NCIC database is an all-encompassing national criminal directory, but the truth is, employers should be diligent in their understanding of the flexibility of the process, including what is accessible and customizable. It is important that the process is able to be adjusted to fit individual needs.
According to Angela Preston, Senior Vice President and Counsel, Corporate Ethics and Compliance, while an important tool, use of the FBI check includes flaws, including incomplete criminal histories, irregular update schedules, a frequent lack of a final court disposition, inclusion of arrest records that may violate the EEOC’s Guidance, and FBI reports that don’t adhere to FCRA requirements.
It has been noted that up to half of all final outcome criminal records are missing from the FBI database because of varying state requirements regarding submission of such data. And, according to the Government Accountability Office, the lack of a final court disposition can be misleading regarding an applicant’s criminal history, causing employers to turn away otherwise worthy candidates for the position. For example, nearly half of FBI rap sheets failed to include information on the outcome of a case after an arrest. And, according to Sterling Talent Solutions, there are some occasions in which fingerprints are not taken.
Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the FBI database is that the reports don’t allow applicants to challenge the results, a clear violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other state laws. Upon requesting a background check of a potential hire, employers are lawfully required to obtain written consent, provide a copy of the consumer report or criminal history report, and to notify applicants who are not selected based on the report of their rights and information being reported.
With that said, there are many benefits of using a professional background screening firm to conduct necessary background screenings, but it is important to understand the requirements associated with the check. Always let the client know that the business uses a set of personal identifiers like full names, social security numbers and address history. Be sure to emphasize that the consumer report check is drawn from many sources in order to provide complete, up-to-date information, including federal, state and local courts, incarceration records, and government watch lists.
Use of the FBI database can be a great tool for performing screening, but it can provide a false sense of security simply because of its name. It is important to use a wide array of databases and sources in order to perform the accurate and current background screening necessary for a great hiring process.