Employee background checks can help protect your business

David Pollino
Posted by David Pollino

More than 2,500 internal security breaches occurred every business day among U.S. companies in the past 12 months, according to a recent study.

2 women in an office looking at a business file together.Internal security breaches are a serious risk for business, security software provider IS Decisions says in its research report, “The Insider Threat Security Manifesto: Beating the threat from within.”

Why background checks make sense

One way to help protect your business from insider threats is to conduct background checks of future employees. There are a lot of reasons to conduct background checks – if a particular job involves driving, then a check of driving records may be appropriate. A policy that some businesses apply is to conduct background checks on employees who will be handling money or accessing the business’s financial accounts.

You should document your hiring process with a written policy and be consistent in applying the policy. There are laws that protect the privacy and employment rights of job candidates, so you need to be familiar with those rules. If you hire a firm to conduct background checks, ensure that firm is reputable and complies with state and federal laws.

For certain jobs, you may want to consider the following background screening: credit checks, drug tests, verification of past employers, driving records, and criminal background, but check with a lawyer first to see what your state permits.  Also, some states require that if your employees work with children or in other care positions, you check the sex offender registry.

Guidelines for a productive process

Here are some guidelines for verifying prospective employees’ backgrounds:

1)      Know who you are hiring. It seems obvious, but it does require some homework to verify a person’s identity. Check resume references and prior places of employment, for example. Also, verify a candidate’s education, both the schools attended and that degrees listed on a resume were in fact received.

2)      Ask permission to do a credit check. A credit check requires the written consent of the candidate, and for certain jobs it is a good idea to review a person’s credit report. For key financial positions at a business, you want people who have been able to manage their personal finances. For guidance on do’s and don’ts on using credit reports – including proper disposal of a report when you are done with it — consult the federal Bureau of Consumer Protection’s tips.

3)      Consider criminal background checks. Federal law allows employers to conduct criminal background checks provided the information is (1) used to help the employer accurately decide if a person is likely to be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee, and (2) not used to discriminate. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has useful information on the use of arrest and conviction records in the hiring and review process. Remember, that a criminal record in someone’s past doesn’t mean outright that you shouldn’t consider hiring them.

4)      Hire a service. It is not expensive to pay an outside service to conduct a background check on a potential hire. For around $100, a business owner can get a basic background check that could end up saving the business, and potentially its customers, thousands of dollars and endless headaches from insider fraud or a security breach.

5)      Ask questions. The results of any kind of background check should not be the end of a candidate’s chances at employment. You need to talk to the candidate, also. If you come across something that doesn’t look right to you, don’t jump to conclusions. Ask the candidate to explain discrepancies or issues found in any type of background check.

Basic inquiries into a job candidate’s background and fact checking of resume information do not require a lot of time or expense, and in the long run they can help ensure you hire the right person for the right job and help you protect your business.


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