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How Many People Fail Background Checks?

There are no national or official governmental statistics on the number of applicants who fail pre-employment background tests. Some background firms maintain their own numbers, while others publish their annual criminal “hit rates,” showing how many applicants subject to background screening had criminal records or other discrepancies. Background firms obviously benefit by pointing out to employers the dangers and pitfalls of hiring without checking an applicant’s background. Without a system of pre-employment screening, it is almost a statistical certainty that an employer will at some point hire someone who brings serious baggage and the potential to create a legal and financial nightmare. As with all statistics, these reports should be carefully reviewed. The rate of failing background checks may also depend upon the industry as well. Certain industries may have a higher rate of “hits” on criminal searches than others, by virtue of the nature of the job, the pay scale and the available population to fill the job. It is difficult to draw firm conclusions from the statistics without knowing the search methodology. Depending on how the searches were conducted, it is possible in fact that such annual statistics may even understate the number of criminal records applicants had.

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