March 21st, 2018 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

How to Choose the Right Criminal Record Check for Your Organization

What do you need for a background check?

When someone mentions having to get a background check for a new job, what is the first type of check thing that comes to mind? If you thought criminal history, then you are not alone. Criminal record checks are the most utilized employment background check and a crucial part of the background check policy, but not all criminal record checks are created equal. Chris Cassimus of Sterling, recently presented a webinar entitled, “How to Choose the Right Criminal Record Check for Your Organization.” The webinar gave attendees a better understanding of the differences between the various types of criminal record checks available and what to consider when identifying an appropriate combination for an organization’s background screening program.

Why Is Background Screening Important?

Background screening is important because it protects a company’s property, assets, reputation, brand and ultimately its biggest asset, the people. When it comes to screening your candidates, there are a variety of reasons employers want to conduct an employment background check. From employment verifications to drug screening to professional license confirmation, employers require different checks for a variety of reasons. The Sterling’ 2017-2018 Background Screening Trends and Best Practices Report found 45% of survey respondents conduct employment background checks to protect their clients and customers, 15% to enhance workplace safety and 14% screen to identify the best candidates.

Approximately, 80% of respondents said that background checks uncover issues or further information that wouldn’t have been found otherwise. The Background Screening Trends Report found that 93% of the respondents conduct criminal record checks to evaluate their prospective employees. According to the Sterling’ Employment Background Checks: Survey of American Citizens Report, consumers expect background screening, 95% of respondents think it should be mandatory to determine whether a person has a criminal background before they take on the responsibility of a job. 52% of consumers would be more inclined to support a company that conducts employment background checks.

Types of Criminal Record Checks

There are two types of criminal record checks that could produce different results to a criminal record check: database searches and primary searches.

Database Searches

Database searches are an “instant” search of a third-party database that aggregates information from publicly available sources. These searches have a quick turnaround time, can be cost-effective and can find potential hits outside of where a candidate has lived or worked.  An example of a database search is a Social Security Number Trace, which is used to return previous address or name history for a candidate during a given period of time. This type of search can find additional names, such as aliases and maiden name changes.

Primary Source Searches

Primary Source Searches returns criminal record data directly from the courthouse at the municipal, county, state or federal level. These searches are important because they are the definitive source of the most up-to-date criminal record data, but you should know where you are searching first.

Using Technology to Help Strengthen Your Criminal Record Check Program

In the US alone, there are more than 3,500 individual court jurisdictions and each one handles their records a little differently. Sterling leverages a multi-step process to identify places to search for criminal records for each candidate. Criminal record searches are then powered by our proprietary CourtDirect technology providing instant automated access to the criminal records located in county court jurisdictions. CourtDirect is a secure, compliant & efficient way to get results back 2-4 times faster than the industry average. The technology uses high-speed connections into more than 2,200 jurisdictions across the U.S. allowing us to search over 75% of all criminal records in minutes.

Sterling offers the Complete Criminal Locator package which casts a wider net to identify more relevant places to search and uses our proprietary technology to quickly search multiple data sources in minutes versus days or weeks. Complete Criminal Locator is a screening program made up of three powerful locator tools— Social Security Number Trace, Multi-State Criminal Database Check and Locator Select—that together, uncover an average of 13% more criminal records than without this package. This multi-step locator process identifies the most likely places to search for criminal records for each candidate.

Focus on Compliance

Each organization is unique and requires unique solutions for their hiring process. There are many types of background screening checks from criminal record checks to education and employment verifications to social media screening. Each type of check has specific practical considerations and compliance matters that must be followed. Criminal record checks are a vital step in making intelligent and informed hiring decisions. The key to minimizing the legal risk associated with criminal record checks is having a well-thought-out hiring policy in place that accounts for applicable legislation, guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the overall candidate experience.

Sterling is here to help with your background screening and new hire onboarding needs. To find out more information about criminal background checks, you can listen to an OnDemand version of the “How to Choose the Right Criminal Record Check for Your Organization” webinar at any time.

Please note: Documents/presentations should NOT be construed as legal advice, guidance or counsel. Employers should consult their own attorney about their compliance responsibilities under the FCRA and applicable state and municipal law. Sterling Infosystems expressly disclaims any warranties or responsibility for damages associated with or arising out of this document/presentation or other information provided.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.