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Risk Management Bulletin

Making the Most of Background Checks

By October 4, 2014No Comments

Lying on a job application isn’t a new concept, but you might be surprised just how often it happens: According to results of a survey from The Society of Human Resource Managers, 53 percent of all job applications contain false information and 78 percent are misleading. What’s more, 70 percent of college students reported they’d lie on an application to get a job they really wanted.

Lying on an application is about more than dishonesty; it also leaves your company open to significant liability risks and losses. In fact, just one negligent-hiring lawsuit can wind up costing a business millions of dollars in addition to significant negative publicity and loss of customer trust.

Comprehensive background checks are the first line of defense when it comes to avoiding negligent-hiring lawsuits as well as theft, harassment and other criminal and civil issues, but too often, employers fail to implement policies effectively.

  • Here are some tips to ensure your company is getting the most from its background checks:
  • Search data from both national and countywide databases
  • Be sure your policy adheres to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); that means getting written authorization to conduct the check and recognizing the applicant’s right to dispute information turned up by the background check.
  • Make sure the data you use in your hiring decision is based on relevant and factual information.
  • Make sure you apply your background check process fairly and not just on specific applicants or groups of applicants.
  • Establish criteria to determine which results will preclude employment and apply those criteria consistently.
  • Review your process regularly to make sure it’s being implemented properly and to make any necessary changes to ensure it remains responsive.


Gathering background information on your potential employees is important not only for your company, but for your customers’ security as well. If you don’t have the skilled personnel to carry out background checks in-house, outsource the task to a company that specializes in employee screening.