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Human Resources

Background Checks: Necessity, Not Luxury

background checks are a necessity, not a luxury

In our mobile society, it’s rare to have firsthand knowledge of a new hire. And the days are gone when an employer would dare to hire based solely on a grade point average and a transcript from a school or college.

Prescreening and Verification

Today, an employer needs to know more about applicants — much more. Otherwise, the employer risks hiring problems and unnecessary employee turnover. To protect your company and its staff members, an addition to your hiring process should include intensive prescreening and verification of job applicant’s background.

With fierce competition for a limited number of jobs, applicants may exaggerate and embellish the experience they have. They may also try to hide things like a criminal record or previous termination.

For busy employers, background checks on applicants can seem like a luxury, a task that requires more resources or time than they have available. But failing to do good background checks can hurt your bottom line, harm your reputation and dull your competitive edge in many ways.

  1. Poor hiring and high turnover waste time and money.
  2. Dishonest employees may steal from your business. And imagine the damage to your business reputation if an employee is caught stealing from one of your clients or customers.
  3. A negligent hiring lawsuit could ruin your business. If an employee hurts someone while they are on the job, or in your workplace, or if their shoddy work causes injury, your business could be liable.

New hires aren’t the only staff members who require screening. Many employees promoted to a job with different responsibilities should get criminal background checks.

Background checks should be routine if there is particular liability. In other words, an employee’s level of responsibility should determine how involved and extensive a background check should be.


  • Employees who have access to people’s homes or offices.
  • Employees who work with children.
  • Employees who have access to cash.
  • Employees who greet the public, have access to personal or business information.
  • Anyone who deals with clients or customers on a regular basis.
  • Franchisees who are entrusted with your name and logo.

What Should You Check?

The following are items most often checked in background and credentials screening:

  1. Criminal record.
  2. Credit Report.
  3. Driving record.
  4. Education.
  5. Professional licenses.
  6. Judgments or tax liens.
  7. Drug screening.
  8. A Social Security number verification.
  9. Past and present residence information.
  10. Past employment verification and work record.

How do you get all this information?

You could gather it yourself, but that’s highly speculative unless you have access to the actual records. You can save time and likely money by using a third-party background screening service. Confirm you have a company policy to cover this practice.

Applicants and employees have rights. You must have the individual’s written permission to obtain a background check or credit report.  Any credit report you get is also governed by the FCRA.

An applicant also has a right to see reports that are sent to the employer and to challenge any negative information. There are state laws and federal laws that limit the information you can legally obtain or use in a hiring decision.

Be cautious.  Know the laws in your region about information obtained from various background screening reports.

Bottom line is this, a candidate brings much more to the table than just job skills. If you’re looking at adding to your team, make sure you are aware of all legally useable information on a job applicant, not just what they put on their resume.

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