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Employer's Crash Course on Fair Credit Reporting Act

Employers’ Crash Course: The Fair Credit Reporting Act

Background checks are nothing new, and now essentially customary in the recruiting and hiring world. Most employers run checks on all new applicants for every open position and even those up for promotions.

So while screenings are a normal part of the hiring process, keep background check regulations in mind to protect your organization and your applicants. Designed to protect the rights and information of job applicants, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) carries immense influence.

When followed properly, the FCRA will help you make informed hiring choices while protecting your candidates. When broken, however, the FCRA gives people the power to levy lawsuits against organizations. To protect your business, make excellent hires and avoid potential legal trouble, brush up on your knowledge with this Employer’s Crash Course on Fair Credit Reporting Act.

What is the FCRA?

The FCRA outlines the responsibilities of consumer reporting agencies and the rights of those undergoing background and credit checks. It requires consumer reporting agencies to report accurate and complete information to businesses when they evaluate employment candidates. It also allows job applicants to see their reports and dispute any inaccurate information.

Under FCRA rules, background check agencies have a duty to be thorough and accurate in their reporting. Job applicants too have the right to advocate for their reputation and true identity. The burden of the FCRA isn’t just on reporting agencies, however. Employers must uphold the rights of their applicants in order to stay FCRA compliant.

How can I be compliant?

Employers must follow certain procedures when recruiting and hiring to comply with the FCRA:

  • Inform applicants you are going to screen them, then get written consent from every applicant to begin the background check process.
  • Explain what information your background reports gather and why you need it but only if an explanation does not cause confusion.
  • Be aware of your state’s screening restrictions and adhere to them. “Ban-the-box” laws have become more common in recent years.
  • If you are going to take employment action—such as rejection or termination—due to the content of a background report, you must follow the adverse action process. This includes sending pre-adverse action and adverse action letters, a copy of their report and their FCRA Rights.
  • Understand that applicants have the right to dispute their report at any time. When you send a pre-adverse action letter, you have to allow a reasonable amount of time—typically around five days—for the individual to dispute their report.

If you follow these steps, you will stay within FCRA rules and avoid negligent hiring suits.

What are the consequences of noncompliance?

The number of lawsuits brought under the FCRA reached an all-time high in 2019 and have continually increased every year since 2011. If an employer and their consumer reporting agency fail to meet FCRA standards, they put themselves at risk for an expensive lawsuit.

Because background screening is often part of standard hiring processes, organizations can repeat the same FCRA infraction multiple times. This can lead to costly class-action lawsuits from multiple parties.

Eliminate the possibility of FCRA non-compliance suits and maintain your responsibilities by partnering with a trusted background screening agency. One Source is completely FCRA compliant and here to help you navigate its regulations easily. That was your Employer’s Crash Course on Fair Credit Reporting Act. Contact One Source Client Relations to learn more about our services.

how to run an employee background check

What to Do Before You Run an Employee Background Check

Established companies and new businesses alike must manage workplace safety and avoid fraud to stay secure. Background checks offer protection and peace of mind as you bring new people into your organization. However, developing an effective screening system to run an employee background check is sometimes easier said than done. Regardless of where your organization is in its development, it’s worthwhile to reflect on your background screening practices.

In order to help your company reap the benefits of background screenings while staying compliant with consumer protection laws, make sure you complete the following before screening applicants.

Create a consistent screening policy

Work with your HR department to build a comprehensive hiring process that includes your background check procedures. You can create a flow chart of the proper steps to take and how to proceed in different situations.

Vague background check practices may cause your hiring team to treat applicants’ reports differently, which can lead to legal trouble. To stay consistent with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you must follow a strict process when taking adverse action—the removal of applicants from consideration because of their background report. So, if that process is already in your procedure, your hiring team will respond correctly.

Hire an FCRA-compliant, PBSA-certified credit reporting agency

The FCRA determines proper background check practices, and you must follow its guidelines to protect your business from negligent hiring charges. According to the FCRA, you need written consent from anyone you want to screen. And you have to explain your reasoning if you take adverse action. Under the FCRA, applicants have the right to know what information is in their report and they can dispute anything they deem incorrect.

Compliance is crucial, and the best way to guarantee a legal hiring process is to hire a reputable screening agency. Hence, the best agencies are FCRA experts that help you navigate its requirements with ease.

The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) determines the ethical and performance standards for the screening industry. So, if a consumer reporting agency has PBSA approval, it meets ethical standards and can be considered a trustworthy company.

See from the perspective of your applicants

Background checks are an increasingly common part of job searches. Applicants likely complete a screening for every job they apply for, and the FCRA empowers them to take an active role in the process. Your candidates will be familiar with the screening process and may have questions you should be prepared to answer.

Make sure your applicants feel comfortable asking questions, voicing concerns, seeking clarification and viewing their results upon request. Therefore, by preparing yourself to meet applicants’ needs, you’ll help them build trust with your organization and expedite the hiring process.

That’s the first steps in learning how to run an employee background check. Learn more about employment screening and how you can improve your hiring process by contacting the One Source Client Relations Team.

background checks improve hiring process

3 Ways Background Checks Improve Your Hiring Process

Integrating a pre-employment background check into your company’s hiring process gives you the best chance of making the best hire. Folding rigorous, thorough vetting into your decision helps you go beyond taking an application and interview purely at face value. Instead, carefully curated employment background screenings provide invaluable data to validate your perspective on the applicant’s fit.

Read how administrating background checks improve your hiring process and gives you the clarity and confirmation to hire the right person for the right job.

Verifying application information

Resume fraud is real. So, background checks help employers find the truth, and the right type of screening will uncover inconsistencies between resume and reality. Finding a difference between what was submitted and what is actually real for an employee’s history helps determine which applicants are worthy of consideration.

Hiring an applicant that fabricated parts or all of their job history opens your organization up to a loss in credibility. Then, preserve your business’s reputation by avoiding a fraudulent hire.

Double checking competencies and capabilities

On top of confirming the accuracy of an applicant’s basic information, you also want to corroborate what they say about their qualifications and skills. A job applicant may misrepresent or mischaracterize their actual experience or educational accomplishments. It could be their job title at a previous job. Or it could be their academic degree. It could even be a credential—like licensure or certification for job-specific roles—essential to your vacant position.

The wrong hire could affect your company’s bottom line. Hiring an applicant that over-embellished their abilities can lead to financial losses over time. Bringing in an underqualified person for a job they’re unable to perform means low productivity and, thus, lower profitability.

Making a safe choice for your company and community

Above all else, a pre-employment screening should ensure your hire won’t jeopardize the safety of those you employ and those you serve. Upholding the trust and equity your business has built with its own employees and the public at-large should never be sacrificed. So, background checks help you cover the bases and provide insurance for deciding on the right hire. 

Certain jobs entrust individuals with high levels of responsibility, from driving company vehicles to even using firearms. A background check uncovers the applicants truly qualified to carry out these sorts of tasks. Implementing a background check into your screening helps find out if an applicant’s past raises any red flags. It can’t preclude you from hiring an employee—that protection is law, part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act—but it can help you make the appropriate determinations. For example, if you’re hiring a delivery driver, you’d want to know if an applicant has any DUIs.

A background check helps you hire with confidence. Hiring managers carry the burden of making critical decisions for their businesses, and they need to make informed ones. Therefore, bringing on the right employee helps keep the company’s people and community safe while preserving its credibility. So, making the wrong hire can have a devastating ripple effect on each of those criteria.

New to the world of how background checks improve your hiring process? Then, explore our wide array of insights, tips and employment background screening guides on the OneSource blog.

how to hire a background check agency

Eight Key Considerations for Hiring a Background Check Agency

Before you invite a stranger into your business and give them access to proprietary data and sensitive information, be sure to run a background check. Proper background checks are a critical part of the hiring process.

Not all background checks are created equal, however. A background check is only as good as the company that provides it. To minimize your risk, work with the right screening company for your particular business or industry. They will understand what you need to know about a potential employee before you extend an offer.

Wondering how to hire a background check agency? Start with these eight considerations.

Is the company accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA )?

This accreditation program reviews the policies and procedures of background check providers in the areas of consumer protection, verification standards, legal compliance and other industry practices, and acts in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which governs the background check process.

Does the agency provide clear, accurate and complete reports?

You want thorough reports, yes, and accuracy is key. If they’re not accurate, they’re not effective. Background checks can contain inaccurate information, and there is no central clearing house where inaccuracies can be contested like there is for credit reports. Choose a company that has a reputation for accurate reports and tells you specifically how they prepare their reports.

Does the agency provide the types of screenings and checks you need?

This might be obvious, but it’s worth saying: You want to choose a background check agency that can offer and perform any background screen you think you might need or want. Do you require supplemental searches like drug testing or motor vehicle records? Be sure they can perform them before you choose them.

Do the agency’s costs and fees fit your budget?

Cost may be a consideration for you, so be sure to ask upfront about any additional fees you might be charged that aren’t obvious. At the same time, you don’t necessarily want cost to be your driving factor; the cheapest process could mean a poor-quality screening. And when it comes to money, the price you pay for a good background check pales in comparison to the cost of terminating an employee and recruiting, hiring and training a replacement.

Does the company offer excellent customer support?

Background check companies may offer support and assistance via email, phone or live chat—which do you prefer? Decide how you’d like to receive support, then make sure you choose a company that’s equipped to provide that. You’ll just be frustrated if you can’t get the help you want in the way you want it.

Do they provide a password-protected online portal?

Especially if you perform multiple background checks and plan on placing several orders, you’ll want to go with a company that allows you to easily do this (and view the reports) online.

What’s the turnaround time?

When you’re working with a tight deadline, it can be frustrating to learn too late in the game that the agency you’re working with doesn’t accommodate quick turns. Ask them about their turnaround times and if they have any guarantees.

Which industries do they serve?

Most of them do serve several, but some offer industry-specific packages to select from, which can give you the peace of mind that your candidate is getting an appropriate-for-the-job screening.

Bottom line: Do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of the background check agencies you’re considering working with. That way you’ll ensure that you’re hiring the right company to do the right checks and screenings for your business, and you’ll be able to trust the results that much more. That’s a great place to start learning how to hire a background check agency. For more information, contact One Source today. 

3 Background Check Budgeting Tips

3 Background Check Budgeting Tips

Every organization’s budget is as unique and specialized as the organization itself. When determining the budget allotment for screening services, financial teams must consider the potential volume of screenings they will conduct and the specific checks they will require. Different industries have a wide variety of hiring and turnover expectations, and all of this must be accounted for in a background check budget.

When these expectations are measured and fine-tuned to each organization, they help maximize background checks while staying within financial margins. Even organizations that do not typically set aside funds for screenings should make a habit of budgeting for compliant background checks. The cost of making an uninformed hiring choice always exceeds the cost of screening an excellent hiring choice.

Here are 3 background check budgeting tips so an organization can keep security and informed hiring in mind while budgeting.

Tailor screenings to job descriptions

No matter how much room you have in your budget for hiring and recruitment, your HR department can keep background check costs low by carefully choosing what job titles require certain kinds of screenings. Some positions may not need screening beyond a basic background check, and others may need more in-depth checks based on the duties of the job.

For example, you could run a standard background check on every applicant but only perform driving record checks on applicants you are certain will drive for work. By performing an audit of your available positions and deciding the amount of screening each job needs, you can save money and only order specialized checks when they’re absolutely necessary.

Understand your industry’s workforce turnover

Hiring new team members can be exciting, but it includes extra—sometimes unexpected—costs. You have to consider the time and money it takes to recruit, hire, train and screen applicants. By knowing the average turnover of your industry, you can better predict your hiring costs and avoid unforeseen expenses.

Some workforces can turn over more than 20 percent of their team each year, especially in times of growth. Base your turnover expectations on your previous year, then proactively set your screening budget to accommodate growth. As the year unfolds, keep track of your real turnover rate to make more accurate predictions for the next year. If you land on a relatively accurate estimate of your hiring costs, you can make better use of your background check provider’s services.

Manage your risks

The best thing your organization can do to save money in the long run is minimize risk and build a constructive culture. Background checks will help you make hiring choices that best align with your organization’s mission and values. When you budget for screening services, your investment is returned through a reliable, trustworthy workforce.

By properly screening each of your applicants, you’ll avoid the cost of negligent hiring and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) noncompliance lawsuits. If you would like to learn more about how background checks can fit into your organization’s budget, contact the One Source Client Relations Team.

One Source Resource Review

One Source Resource Review: September–December 2019

At One Source, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive, transparent and useful background check education and resources. We are experts in the screening industry, and we believe everyone should have access to professional insights to determine their security needs. Our blog is full of advice and information about background checks to answer your questions and broaden your knowledge.

As our blog expands, we will curate posts and include them in this review of our website’s resources. The blog posts are categorized by topic and include a summary of their key points. We hope these review posts will make it easier to find the information you need and utilize our knowledge when you need it. With that said, let’s dive into the One Source Resource Review. 

General Background Check Information

Frequently Asked Questions about Pre-Employment Background Checks

Learn all the basics about background checks and screening companies with these in-depth FAQs. We discuss timelines, the contents of reports and how a partnership with a screening agency can help you.

When You’re Ready to Run a Background Check, Start Here

No matter the reason for your screenings or the scale of your background check process, it can be tricky to know where to start. Our simple steps can help you begin screening with confidence.

What background checks do — and don’t — include

It can be difficult to choose the background check company best suiting your needs if you are not sure what they report. This blog breaks down our TotalCheck package so you know exactly what to expect.

How far back does a background check report?

This question is an entry point to our explanation of the legal expectations and limitations of background checks. We overview the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the rights it gives to the subjects of checks.

Debunking 5 common background check myths

We clear up the screening industry’s biggest misconceptions while discussing the ways background checks can benefit any organization.

Your Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance crash course

This blog includes a cautionary tale for businesses not complying with the FCRA and clear instructions to ensure you are in line with its regulations.

Employers and Hiring Departments

The 5-step guide to starting your company’s background check process

If your business is hiring several new team members soon, this blog is a must-read. We take you through the entire process of identifying your background check needs and how to put a plan in action.

A beginner’s guide to completing background checks

For those who have never conducted a background check before, this is an excellent place to start. We cover all the basics and are always available to answer questions.

4 Reasons to Screen Applicants with a Criminal Background Check

Background checks do more than just verify your applicants’ histories. They can help protect—and even grow—your business by promoting a positive culture and maintaining your image.

What Ban-the-Box Laws Mean for Employers

Many states no longer allow employers to ask applicants if they have criminal records. We explore what this means and how to promote security while complying with the law.

Volunteer Organizations

The Top 3 Reasons Nonprofit Volunteers Need Background Checks

One Source offers screening solutions designed specifically for nonprofits. Here’s how background checks can benefit your organization and volunteer base.

Does your organization need a background check process?

This checklist will help you evaluate the security requirements of your organization. Knowing this will help to create the best screening process for you, specific to your needs.

Questions Nonprofits Should Ask About Background Checks

Learn how to gather relevant information from background reports and develop an ethical hiring code with this guide.

Hiring Certified Contractors

Learn how to hire a reliable contractor

One Source has a set of guidelines dedicated to certified contractors so you can make educated decisions about your contractors.

OSCC Quarter 3 Report

We screened over 4,600 contractors in the third quarter of 2019 and built a report of our findings.

That will do it for this edition of the One Source Resource Review. To learn even more about One Source’s background check offerings, contact our Client Relations Team.

What Ban-the-Box Laws Mean for Employers

Over the past several years, more than 33 states and 150 cities have created laws prohibiting employers from asking applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime. These laws are called “ban-the-box” rules and businesses must shift their hiring practices to meet the requirements of the laws. As Congress considers a federal ban-the-box law, called the “Fair Chance Act,” let’s dig into what the law could mean, how it could impact your business and how to keep your hiring process compliant.

Origin of ban-the-box laws

Job applications often include the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Check yes or no.” That leaves the 60–70 million Americans who have a criminal record no choice but to check the “yes” box. Employers have used this question to narrow down their applicant pool without knowing the specifics or timing of candidate’s crime. Because of this hiring practice, those with criminal records have high unemployment rates, and studies show ex-offenders who do not find work are much more likely to commit another crime.

Ban-the-box laws have been introduced across the country to keep employers from asking about criminal history in initial job applications. Under these laws, it is illegal to disqualify an applicant from consideration just because they have a criminal record. Employers must at least know an applicant’s offenses to make an informed hiring decision.

Organizations working in security or with vulnerable populations are generally exempt from ban-the-box laws.

How you can meet ban-the-box requirements

Compliance with these kinds of laws and secure hiring practices are absolutely not mutually exclusive. With slight adjustments to your organization’s processes, you can build a safe workforce and in accordance with the law.

If necessary, update your organization’s application forms—removing criminal history questions and making sure outdated applications are completely inaccessible. You may also need to train your hiring managers how to handle applications and interviews to stay ban-the-box compliant.

Even if a state or city does not have a ban-the-box law, it is becoming more common for companies to voluntarily remove criminal record questions from applications. If your organization chooses not to ask upfront about criminal history but still needs to consider criminal offenses, decide when in the hiring process would be best to inquire about a background check.

To give all applicants a fair chance and make informed hiring choices, partner with a background check agency giving you a comprehensive report of applicants’ criminal records. Background reports will show you what crimes an applicant was convicted of, how long ago the crimes were and how relevant they are to your organization.

With the assistance of background checks, you can accommodate ban-the-box laws and make the best possible hiring choices for your team. Contact our Client Relations team to learn more about criminal background checks and how One Source can help you.