With the ever-increasing demand for background checks in today’s business world, new light has been shed on numerous regulations. These involve the ability of employers to obtain information on potential employees, and the major penalties that can be imposed on businesses that do not comply with said directives.

An always confusing aspect of background checks is that regulations are not universal across the U.S. Guidelines vary according to federal, state and local jurisdictions.

Many of these ever-changing guidelines involve:
1. When can the background check be introduced as part of the hiring process?
2. How in-depth can investigations go?
3. When are credit checks allowed?
4. What release forms are needed?
5. What information is required on an employment application?
6. What questions are allowed during the interview?
7. How far back can an applicant be checked for criminal charges?
8. What role can social media play in a background check?
9. Are companies allowed to verify driving records, college degrees, job history and references?
10. How does a company handle negative results from a background report?

In most cases, these procedures have been practiced for many years. Today and going forward, the playing field has changed dramatically recently due to:
1. Laws that protect the privacy and rights of individual applicants;
2. Emphasis on cyber security and having confidential information hacked.

The goals of these changes are to make employers take as many steps as possible to protect the privileged information of a potential employee. The steps for performing a background check are not necessarily complicated. But the biggest mistakes occur when companies do not understand the rules and then unintentionally break them.

The penalties for violating these laws are being levied at not only the hiring companies, but at credit reporting agencies and background companies.

Simply put, companies must adhere to specific guidelines when requesting a background report.

The best way to ensure background checks are done legally is to meet with a background company such as GroupOne and have their team of experts explain jurisdiction guidelines for your company’s locale. You should ask them to explain the forms so that you understand the searches performed on your behalf.

Forms that should be used for searches in several states include:
• Authorization acknowledgement pre-employment;
• Disclosure consumer report pre-employment;
• Information form pre-employment;
• College or advanced degree verification form (used only when degree or attendance verification is required);
• A sample of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act;
• Samples of pre-adverse and adverse letters.

It is recommended that you have your corporate counsel review any documents being implemented with regard to searches to ensure legal compliance. As a business owner, it’s advisable to be aware of the current regulations regarding background checks to make sure the screenings performed on your company’s behalf will result in hiring the best employees.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at GroupOne.