Posted in Mind Your Business, MYB, NAPBS
Mind Your Business headed out to Denver last week for the National Association of Professional Background Screeners’ 2014 annual conference. The conference included breakout educational sessions, an exhibition with more than 40 companies presenting on the tradeshow floor, and a keynote speech by Olympic Gold Medalist Shannon Miller.
Education sessions included information on legal issues in background screening, technological advancements in the future, avoiding Fair Credit Reporting Act lawsuits, and completing international background checks, among many other topics. Individuals from several industries presented at these breakout sessions, including attorneys, background screeners, credit reporting agencies, law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, and even an employee from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Vendors also had the opportunity to showcase their products and services in 50-minute demonstrations interspersed throughout the sessions.
Mind Your Business was excited to be able to attend the NAPBS conference and learn from the many sessions, and looks forward to future NAPBS events.
For more information about the conference, visit NAPBS’ website, or check out Mind Your Business’ Twitter feed.
Photo: Olympic Gold Medalist Shannon Miller giving the keynote speech.
Posted in credit checks, credit checks in employment
Employers may now need to take a closer look at potential employees’ credit reports, as credit-scoring company Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) has announced plans to revise the way it reports medical debts that have been sent to collections.
One third of Americans find themselves stuck with medical debts. The new system, also known as “FICO 9,” would take existing outstanding medical debts that have been sent to collections and weight them to be of lesser value on a credit report than debts such as student loans or credit cards that have gone to collections. Because of this, those with outstanding medical debts, but little other debt, may actually see an improvement in their credit score number.
In addition, medical debts that had previously been sent to collections, but that have since been paid off, will be erased from one’s credit score with FICO 9. This could result in credit score increases of up to 25 points, according to Cathy Curtis of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. (A statement that says a medical bill was sent to collections will remain on the report for seven years, however, even though the score number would not be affected; seven years is the standard for credit reporting.)
The system previously used, dubbed “FICO 8,” weighted all debts equally, regardless of the type of debt or how it was acquired. FICO 9 will alter that, because becoming ill or injured should not have the same employment or financial repercussions as racking up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Employers will be able to see the difference in the types of debt under FICO 9’s reporting when looking at job applicants’ credit reports.
However, even with FICO 9’s improvements, everyone should still check their credit reports every year to ensure accuracy and file a correction if they notice any inaccuracies. In addition, if a medical debt has been sent to collections incorrectly and it pops up on the credit report, contact the medical office and credit bureau to have the debt investigated; even though medical debt will be weighted differently, it can still drag a score down if left on the report when it should not be there.
Employers should also be aware that they may have to ask for FICO 9 reports specifically, as many companies and mortgage lenders are still using FICO 8 and even FICO 7 as their primary scoring models.
photo credit: urbanbohemian via photopin cc
Posted in background checks, criminal background checks, criminal record, education checks, school background checks, student background checks
In light of the kidnapping of a University of Virginia student, Hannah Graham, the state’s lawmakers are considering re-vamping the process for conducting background checks not only on the state’s university students, but also how they handle students that transfer from one university to another within the state.
Jesse Matthew Jr., a former football player at Christopher Newport University, has been arrested for the abduction of Graham. He previously had been accused of sexual assault at Liberty University, and later CNU, though he was not prosecuted for the latter charges. Lawmakers are now asking themselves if they are doing enough to keep tabs on students’ disciplinary and arrest records, especially as many colleges have had to deal with incidences and allegations of sexual assault on and off campus.
Virginia law requires all public and private universities to collaborate with Virginia State Police to check every admitted student’s name against the Virginia Criminal Information Network and the state’s sex offender registry. However, once a student has begun taking classes at his or her chosen venue of higher learning, school administrators may never discover later arrests and convictions. In addition, the current background checks do not bring up information about charges that have not resulted in a conviction.
Senator Thomas K. Norment, who teaches at the College of William and Mary, says that those who have had trouble with the law in the past but have not been convicted of a crime should still be investigated in order to protect other students.
“I know there are issues,” Norment said, “but I do think colleges should be able to exchange behavioral problems [information] so a student like [Jesse Matthew Jr.] cannot go from school to school without the school knowing who and what they are getting.”
However, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia warns against the potential discrimination that could result from updated these checks. “We do not believe that arrest information should be considered at all, given its lack of reliability,” said Claire Guthrie Gastanage, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia. “A person is innocent until proven guilty, and there are too many arrests, particularly those that never get prosecuted, for which there wasn’t even probable cause, to believe the person was engaged in criminal activity in the first place.”
William and Mary already requires all students to report any felony arrests within 72 hours, even if it occurs in another state. In addition, the college’s incoming transfer students are required to obtain a certificate of good standing from the dean of the college from which they are transferring.
Senator Mark Warner introduced a bill last year to attempt to improve the process of reporting incidences of arrests and assaults, though there is always more to be done.
photo credit: hjl via photopin cc
Posted in background check process, background checking, EEOC, employment background screening
Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed charges against automaker BMW Manufacturing due to its policy of “automatic exclusions with no further consideration” in rejecting all applicants with criminal records. The charges were brought against BMW because this blanket statement allegedly causes the company to disproportionally screen out black applicants.
In response, BMW Manufacturing asked the EEOC to reveal its own policies for preventing convicted criminals from working for the government organization, which the EEOC refused to disclose. Dollar General, in a similar suit, has also requested the policy to be made public, and the EEOC has responded likewise.
The EEOC argues that its own screening policies are irrelevant to the cases it has open against BMW and Dollar General because, according to the Washington Examiner, “[the EEOC believes] a different legal standard applies to government agencies.”
In a legal brief, the EEOC stated “[BMW] argues that EEOC’s hiring practices are relevant and thus discoverable because said practices bear on whether defendant can establish its business necessity defense. In other words, if the EEOC is doing it, it must be lawful. This position is untenable because EEOC’s internal hiring practices do not establish the law or the legality of defendant’s hiring practices.”
BMW Manufacturing made it known to the South Carolina District Court, where this case is being heard, that the EEOC has repeatedly refused to provide information about its own hiring practices while pointing fingers at others for having illegal hiring policies, and that the courts have previously concluded that the EEOC’s policies should be considered relevant information. It is assumed that the case the automaker is referring to is the suit brought forth against Kaplan Higher Education, which Kaplan won, as both Kaplan and the EEOC use the same credit checks to prevent “increase[d] temptation to commit illegal or unethical acts.” The EEOC had tried to argue that the credit checks the education company was using impacted more black applicants than white.
The EEOC’s hiring policies are set by the Office of Personnel Management. Those policies have not been publicly disclosed.
Posted in background checks, background screening, credit checks, criminal background checks
While it would be nice if every renter could be a model tenant, landlords have to be careful when renting homes or apartments out. It’s a fine line to walk; you want to have great tenants living in your rentals, but that requires conducting a few types of background checks.
You should absolutely run the following types of background checks:
- Credit checks — You’ll want to make sure your potential tenant doesn’t have any glaring problems in his or her credit history, such as frequently missing payments, bills being sent to collections or bankruptcies. Problems such as these may indicate financial irresponsibility, which you may pay for later.
- Criminal background checks — Does the tenant have a criminal history? How long ago was the conviction, and is there evidence that the person has been rehabilitated? Use your best judgment, because you need to keep your other tenants safe. Be aware of sex offender laws as well; if your residence is located near a school or daycare, state and federal laws dictate how close a sex offender can live to the facility.
- Employment checks — It’s a good idea to contact the renter’s employers, present and past, as it will give you a good picture as to the person’s level of responsibility as well as whether his or her income will allow for the cost of rent each month. Follow up on these references to ensure the applicant has been honest.
But watch out for these pitfalls when conducting screening processes:
- Inform the tenant about conducting checks — The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires landlords to disclose that credit checks will be conducted. It also gives potential tenants the option to see their report if to check for inaccuracies, if they are going to be overlooked because of something on the report.
- Watch out for discrimination — It is illegal to discriminate against a potential tenant due to race, religion, gender, ethnicity or disability under the federal Fair Housing Act. Be mindful of this when conducting background checks. It is a good idea to have an across-the-board screening policy in place that is mandatory for all potential tenants.
- Find out previous residences — Did your potential renter just move from out of town? Get a driver’s license number and previous addresses. If your renter is from a different state or county, you’ll want to conduct local checks in those locations in order to ensure they aren’t trying to outrun a criminal history. Plus, getting the addresses of previous residences allows you to get in contact with previous landlords, so you can get a better picture of your new tenants.
If you watch out for these issues, and conduct various types of background checks on each potential new tenant, you should have no problems when renting your home or apartment out.
Posted in background checks, background investigations, dating checks, dating site checks
A new dating site out of Dallas has become the first online dating portal to perform thorough background investigations on every member, in order to ensure that your blind date doesn’t blindside you with any felony convictions, second families or other falsehoods.
As the “Newest and Safest Way to Date,” Play It Safe Dating not only screens its members for criminal records, it also claims to verify its members’ ages, photos and relationship statuses in order to prevent people from presenting themselves dishonestly. Its goal is to make daters’ safety a higher priority, as sex offenders and scammers are common on traditional dating sites.
Of course, background screening all your potential dates does come with a cost. In addition to monthly membership fees, new members must pay $44.99 to sign up.
“After speaking to hundreds of online daters, there was a clear direction of common complaints. Men complained that women were older and heavier in person than their photos portrayed, and women have found that a lot of the men they meet online are married,” said Play It Safe Dating Founder and CEO Cheryl Rios.
A background check based on name, birth date and state of residence may turn up a person’s marital status, though it is not clear how the site will confirm its members’ weight or photo accuracy. The website is still in beta mode, and did not provide further information about how background checks would be conducted.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing
Former U.S. Treasury Department employee and current California gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari had an interesting idea. Lawmakers are constantly passing legislation about who should be background checked, drug tested, and investigated — in fact, California’s current Proposition 46, regarding drug testing for doctors, will be voted on in November — so why shouldn’t the legislators themselves be required to pass an annual drug test?
Kashkari expressed this sentiment during a stint as guest host on the Mark Larson radio show, though he said he thought that many lawmakers would not be okay with such a mandate.
“I think we should drug test legislators. Every statewide officeholder, and everyone in the Assembly and the Senate. Why don’t we just have an annual mandatory drug test?” Kashkari said on the air.
The candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Ron Nehring, also participated in the radio program, and Kashkari’s question came up during a discussion about legalizing marijuana, which current Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom supports. Both Nehring and Kashkari spoke about the possibility of proposing drug testing for legislators, though Nehring evaded a question about whether he specifically would be willing to participate in a drug test alongside Lt. Governor Newsom, by changing the direction of the conversation back to Proposition 46.
Kashkari was right about the legislator feedback regarding his comments; a spokesman for Democratic state Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg said, “The only thing tripping is Mr. Kashkari’s desperate campaign.”
Later on, after his comments were publicly aired, Kashkari claimed that he was joking, and quipped that IQ tests should be required instead.
photo credit: Un ragazzo chiamato Bi via photopin cc
Posted in Department of Labor, employment
Back in February, President Barack Obama signed a President’s Executive Order to create a minimum wage for government contractors. On October 2, the Department of Labor finally released the terms for how the government will put the wage hike into effect, as well as regulations for the Department of Labor’s pay reporting and improved pay transparency.
The Order is expected to affect approximately 200,000 contractors, though it will not be going into effect until early next year.
The Order not only established a minimum wage, it also raised the minimum pay rate to $10.10 per hour for federal contractors. The new pay scale will cover all contractors that work on government construction and service projects.
The new Department of Labor regulations were introduced publicly last week, and include clarification on what contractors’ obligations are under the minimum wage, as well as enforcement procedures (which are similar, if not identical, to the enforcement procedures that government contractors already work under).
The Department of Labor has also been working on new pay transparency regulations since a second Executive Order was signed on “Equal Pay Day” in April. Their proposed regulations would keep government contractors from keeping pay policies a secret, and remove discriminatory language from contracts regarding employees asking about or sharing information about their wages.
The Order will go into effect on January 1, 2015, and applies only for new contractors and replacements for contracts that are expiring. For more information on the Executive Order and what contracts are affected by it, visit the Department of Labor website.
Posted in Mind Your Business, MYB, small business
On October 8, Mind Your Business’ founder and CEO Karen Caruso had the opportunity to speak at the Asheville business development seminar, hosted by the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center. Over the past month, the SBTDC has hosted several of these seminars for female small business owners, with a variety of topics covered.
Each of the seminars included discussions about marketing your company as a woman-owned small business and how to compete for government contracts. They also introduced a selection of business resources that can be of assistance to those who run women-owned small businesses (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB).
The SBTDC hopes to promote the WOSB and EDWOSB programs — which are under the U.S. Small Business Administration —through these business development seminars. In addition, the SBTDC assists small business owners with business planning, educational opportunities, training programs, economic growth and more.
It’s not too late to register to attend either of the remaining two Women-Owned Business Development seminars! It is free to attend, but you must register in advance. Check out the upcoming events in Raleigh and Boone, N.C., on October 14 and November 18, respectively!
Posted in employment
According to a news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate dropped by .2 percentage points in September, bringing the unemployment rate down to 5.9 percent. So far in 2014, the percent of unemployed people has dropped by 1.3 points overall.
The number of available non-farming jobs increased by nearly 250,000 jobs last month, thanks to growth in the business services and health care markets. Thanks to that job growth, there are 329,000 less unemployed people this month than there were in August 2014.
More than 80,000 new professional and business service jobs were created in September, a dramatic swing upwards from the previous monthly average of 56,000 jobs. The bulk of the new positions were in employment services, though a good chunk of them were in technical consulting and management. Legal services jobs declined by 5,000 in September.
The retail industry also saw a leap in jobs, with 35,000 new positions added. Twenty thousand of those jobs were for food and beverage retailers, including the reinstatement of the grocery store workers in the northeast from last month’s chain disruptions.
The healthcare industry also saw above-average increases, with 23,000 new positions created. Information, mining, construction and financial industries also saw mid-size gains, while the manufacturing, transportation, government and trade sectors saw little change.
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