Top 10 Trends in Background Checks for 2012

2012 for employment screening trends marks greater scrutiny by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - the EEOC. Employers utilizing pre-employment background checks need to be aware of the market and how the EEOC may be affecting change:

1) Greater Scrutiny of EEOC
Nine out of ten employers run criminal background checks on their job applicants a recent survey shows. The EEOC began preliminary hearings to examine the use of these records on whether the practice was an unfair and discriminatory bar to employment of ex-offenders. EEOC's actions, coupled with the "Ban the Box" movement which seeks to remove the criminal history question from job applications reflects a new climate under which employer use of criminal records is under fire.

2) Credit Reports Under Increasing Regulation
Several US States have passed laws in recent years to regulate the use of credit reports for pre-employment purposes. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon and Washington have laws limiting the use of credit checks. Other states are currently considering further restrictions on credit checks.

3) Social Media Background Screening
Employers are utilizing social media websites to discover more information about applicants on websites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Using information discovered on a social media investigation can present legal risks. Failure to utilize the information available on these sites can bring in negligent hiring claims if it were discovered an unfit person was hired for a position where such a search would have raised a "red flag." However, employers may face privacy, discrimination and accuracy issues when using social media as tool for pre-employment.

4) Automatic Background Screening Leads to Efficiency and Risk
Pre-employment screening used to a costly, time-consuming effort and was reserved only for select applicants. In today's technological environment, screening applicants has become increasingly automated and employers have come to expect fast, accurate, inexpensive results. With increased efficiency comes increased risk, especially if your provider is using unfiltered information delivered directly from a criminal database.

5) NAPBS Background Screening Accreditation Program
Proof positive of the changing atmosphere for criminal background check providers is the National Association of Professional Background Screeners newly minted accreditation program. The program is quickly becoming a requirement of many employers when considering a background screening provider since it is the only practical means of third party verification of the professionalism and competency of a particular screening firm.

6) Diploma Mills
With a reported 48% increase in diploma mills worldwide, applicants are likely to using false evidence to support their education claims. The mills are "largely online entities whose degrees are worthless due to the lack of valid accreditation  and recognition."

7) Employment Screening Lawsuits on the Rise
As attorneys and consumers become aware of the FCRA laws regulating background checks they; are filing more lawsuits against employers. Employers are being sued by victims alleging that the employer failed to perform adequate screening and they are being sued by applicants complaining about the accuracy of their reports or failing to meet the guidelines of the FCRA.

8) E-Verify Laws Creating Complex Web of Federal and State Rules for Employers
Federal laws mandates all federal contractors and subcontractors in ALL states utilize the electronic E-Verify program and many US states have enacted laws enforcing its use as well. The varying number of laws and regulation from state-to-state make the program a legal nightmare.

9) Offshoring Personally Identifiable Information
In an effort to lower costs, some background screening agencies have begun the risky process of using lower-cost overseas suppliers for their background information. The practice is called "offshoring" and California became the first state to pass a law affecting the practice.

10) Self-Background Checks Increasingly Conducted by Job Seekers
In efforts to verify the accuracy of their public information may job applicants are self-verifying their criminal background information. It is a smart move to ensure the information found on the check is accurate, up-to-date and complete.