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 legislation, background screening, EEOC
After some witness expressed concerns about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s enforcement actions at an oversight hearing in June, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections arranged a hearing last month to review three potential new pieces of legislation that would affect how the EEOC can enforce and regulate businesses that are trying to comply with state and federal anti-discrimination laws. That hearing took place on Sept. 17.
During the hearing, Rep. Tim Walberg, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, said, “[The EEOC] has spent a great deal of time and resources advancing a deeply flawed enforcement and regulatory agenda … employers have fallen under EEOC’s intense scrutiny without any allegation of employment discrimination.”
Walberg encouraged the creation and support of legislation that would oversee enforcement and assist employers in complying with local, state and federal laws.
The hearing covered three pieces of legislation, including the EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act, and the Certainty in Enforcement Act. The former would require the EEOC to post publicly any mandatory court-sanctioned costs it pays on its website; the latter, once passed, would provide a “safe harbor” for employers working to comply with regulations about the hiring process, particularly in regards to background checks.
The Certainty in Enforcement Act would also help to clarify existing background check laws and the EEOC’s guidance in the process as businesses complete checks without discriminating against any group. Former EEOC staff member Lynn Clements testified that the existing guidance “fail[s] to provide a clear path for employers.” Another witness said that the bill would assist in keeping EEOC guidelines from interfering with or overriding state and city laws.
Not everyone was so thrilled with the potential new laws. Professor Michael Foreman, who is the Director of the Civil Rights Appellate Clinic at the Dickinson School of Law at Pennsylvania State University, testified that the new regulations would “weaken the EEOC’s effectiveness” in enforcing anti-discrimination laws.
For more information about the laws that were discussed, check out the memo regarding the pending bills.
Posted in background screening, Facebook, pre-employment background checks, social media background checks
Some police agencies in California have been requiring prospective employees to hand over their social media passwords during background screening, or risk losing out on a job.
California passed a law two years ago preventing employers from asking applicants for social media passwords, but there is a loophole: the wording of the law makes it unclear whether the law applies to all employers, or only private employers.
“We interpret [the law] as only applying to private employers,” said Police Chief Ken Corney, of Ventura, Calif.
Some police departments in the state still require job applicants to hand over their Facebook, Twitter and other social media passwords in order to comb through anything that has been hidden by privacy settings. This applies to not only law-enforcement positions, but also “sensitive” non-police jobs, such as corrections officers and dispatchers.
Alternatively, some departments ask candidates to bring up their social media accounts in front of their prospective employer. Some departments require password information when current employees switch jobs within the organization as well.
When the author of the original law, Assemblywoman Nora Campos, attempted to pass legislation closing the loophole this year, she received opposition from police management groups that were concerned that they would not be able to screen candidates thoroughly without access to an individual’s social media accounts.
However, those who supported the new bill expressed concern that if police agencies are able to require passwords, then other public employers, such as school districts, may be able to require social media passwords as well.
The bill was dropped in favor of letting the courts decide whether law enforcement agencies have the right to ask for passwords, or if the law applies universally to both private and public employees.
Photo credit: railking via Free Images
Posted in background checks, background screening, pre-employment background checks
Last year, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new background screening law that requires all school employees — public and private — to undergo nationwide fingerprint background checks. Before the law was passed, school administrators in the state were required to submit to state and federal background checks, while other employees were only required to pass state background checks.
The new law was prompted by the actions of former Progressive Christian Academy operator Christina Perera, a convicted felon that ran the school until her criminal history was discovered back in 2012. She had previously also run other day care centers before being convicted of fraud, theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and other charges, and operated the facilities under several different names, addresses and identities.
Undercover detectives finally arrested Perera for parole violation in August when she was found to be working under a false name at Daniel’s Academy, a daycare center in Fort Myers, Fla. More than 20 children had been attending the center.
Daniel’s Academy will be closed for a minimum of 90 days while it remains under investigation by the Florida Department of Children & Families. Investigators have already found that the facility lacked documentation about employees, did not have a license, and employed individuals who had not been subject to background checks, among other problems.
Under the new Georgia law, problems like these can be avoided in the future by ensuring all educators are subject to screening. Hopefully other states will follow suit, continuing to work on background screening laws that protect children.
Posted in background checking, background screening, background screening company, identity theft
The Internal Revenue Service became the subject of public scrutiny when a government investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed that the IRS had turned over the names, social security numbers and addresses of more than 1.4 million U.S. residents to a government contractor whose employees had not undergone background checks back in 2013. If the contractor had utilized corporate screening services to perform checks on its employees, millions of taxpayers’ information might not have been put at risk.
The IRS often utilizes contractors for printing, translation, courier and document recovery services. This particular breach occurred when the IRS released a disc of information to a printing company whose employees had not undergone background checks.
The breach increases public concern about identity theft, as the IRS has had to deal with several incidences of people filing tax returns and trying to receive refunds using stolen social security numbers. In 2012, this kind of criminal activity resulted in more than $4 billion worth of funds refunded to criminals. With taxpayers’ social security numbers, names and addresses in hand, identity thieves could wreak havoc for thousands of hard-working citizens.
While only 34 contracts were active as of May 2013, when the incident occurred, the statement released by the U.S. Treasury estimates that 10,000 private contractors had access to taxpayers’ “sensitive but unclassified” (SBU) information as of January of this year. The IRS does have policies in place that require contract employees to undergo background checks if they have access to SBU information.
“IRS policy requires contractor personnel to attain favorable background investigations if their duration of employment exceeds 180 calendar days and they require unescorted access to IRS facilities or work on contracts that involve the design, operation, repair or maintenance of information systems, and/or require access to SBU information,” the report states.
However, without the use of corporate screening services for hiring, identity thieves could easily get away with not undergoing any screening at all, provided they remained with the contractor for less than 180 days. Additionally, it is not clear which government department is responsible for background screening, as investigations services fall under several different offices.
Of the 34 contracts, five contractors had not required their employees to be screened. Another 20 of the contracts did not require their employees to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Whether your company conducts all business internally or works with contractors to accomplish the goals of your business, it is vital that you employ corporate screening services — such as Mind Your Business — to conduct background checks on the people that may have access to company, employee, or private data.
For more information about Mind Your Business and the peace of mind background screening can provide, contact us today.
Posted in background legislation, background screening, criminal background checks
After former Maryland M.D. William Dando had his medical license suspended following allegations of sexual assault, the state is now considering re-visiting legislation that would require all healthcare providers, including doctors, to undergo background checks.
Maryland is one of only 13 states that does not currently require background checks on doctors. The state had considered legislation as recently as last year (and as early as 2007) regarding whether healthcare professionals should undergo background screening, but after legislators could not agree over a single word’s usage during the 2013 assembly, the bill was dropped and not reintroduced.
However, as of this year, chiropractors, counselors and therapists — for both mental health and physical recovery — are required to undergo background checks per the state regulatory board.
Dando was able to get his medical license in Maryland, and practice medicine in the state for nearly two decades, before it was found that he had a previous conviction in another state for raping a woman at gunpoint. That conviction was from 1987, and he served four years of a 10-year sentence.
Now, Maryland’s Board of Physicians — the board that approved Dando’s license — will meet this summer to discuss options for screening, moving forward. Previously the Board only asked its applicants if they had previous convictions or arrests. Dando allegedly told the board that he had a previous assault conviction, but it may not have been investigated, and Dando was allowed to obtain his medical license in 1996.
Dando has pleaded not guilty to the new sexual assault charges, which were brought against him in April. His trial is scheduled for September.
If the Board of Physicians decides to approve a mandate to screen all doctors, it will then have access to the FBI’s national criminal database.
Posted in background screening, pre-employment background checks, school background checks, teacher checks
After an internal audit, a Springfield, Mo., school district is considering adding more current types of background checks to its hiring and retention policies, including fingerprinting all long-time employees.
According to an internal audit report, fingerprint-based background checks did not become district policy until January 1, 2005, and Springfield Public Schools has not fingerprinted employees that were hired by the district prior to that date. More than 1,000 employees were hired before 2005 that have remained in the school district. Before 2005, the district only conducted name-based state criminal background checks.
The audit also found that teachers who leave the district and return within a year are not required to be re-screened. The auditor, Wayland Mueller, requested the district seek legal advice about what types of background checks should be considered in the case of re-hiring.
Mueller also recommended that the district conduct additional types of background checks on those hired before 2005, including fingerprinting and criminal history checks. A recommendation on how to go about that process of fingerprinting, which will cost the district approximately $45 per employee, will be made within 60 days.
Springfield Public Schools representative Parker McKenna says that the district now does fingerprint background checks on all new employees per Missouri law, as well as checking candidate names against a family care registry.
Meanwhile, other districts in the state have other precautions in place to prevent abuse, including requiring background checks on anyone volunteering in the district, and reviewing sex-offender listings.
The district audit was requested after Springfield student Hailey Owens was abducted, sexually abused and murdered, allegedly by a football coach that had worked in the district since 1998.
Overall, Springfield Public Schools was given a rating of “Effective” according to the audit report, due to the current policies of subjecting new hires to various types of background checks that “meet and exceed” the state’s requirements.
For more information about what types of background checks should be done in school settings, contact Mind Your Business.
photo credit: Exercise Tradewinds 2009 via photopin cc
Posted in background check, background screening, criminal background check, employment, small business
For more than a year, Washington state has been unable to access federal criminal record checks for individuals who wish to start legal marijuana businesses within the state. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice finally granted the state access to an FBI database so the state can conduct background checks on those who apply for a license. The Dept. of Justice allowed the state access in order to stand by its requirements that those with “troublesome” criminal histories be kept out of the industry.
By granting access to the database, the state is able to see if potential licensees have criminal histories, and their applications can be approved or denied on a case-by-case basis, depending on parole status and how recent their convictions are. Having a conviction within the past decade immediately disqualifies Washington residents from acquiring licenses to grow or sell marijuana.
Previously, the state had to rely on background checks by the Washington State Patrol, and only included in-state arrest records.
According to the Obama administration, the goal in requiring state licensing is to ensure that revenues from the industry don’t trickle back down into illegal drug trafficking or other forms of organized crime.
The Dept. of Justice allows similar background checks in Colorado, for those who wish to acquire licenses to distribute marijuana legally, but up until the beginning of April, Washington’s requests were met with silence. Last month, in a memo to the Associated Press, the Dept. of Justice stated that it aims “to ensure a consistent national approach” to the way licenses are dealt with in the industry.
According to the memo, “This decision to permit states and localities to perform their own background checks for marijuana licenses is consistent with our previous guidance designed to protect public safety and ensure strict regulation of those businesses.”
Since the state received access to the database, Washington has issued 10 licenses to grow or sell marijuana.
Posted in background screening, criminal background checks, pre-employment background screening
A Chippewa Falls, Wis., mental health care facility was discovered to have a convicted sex offender in its employ, five months after the man had begun working at the facility as an environmental services coordinator. Lake Hallie Memory Care had hired the offender in April 2013 before a criminal background check had returned results. His results did not come back until September 2013, when he was fired due to his previous conviction. Due to negligent hiring practices, as well as other Wisconsin Department of Health Services violations, the facility has been banned from bringing in any new patients until they’ve addressed the issues.
In addition to finding two other employees that had not passed background checks, state inspectors discovered two uniform licensing violations and 26 violations of facility rules as required by the state department, including violating residents’ right to privacy and not properly training employees. Lake Hallie Memory Care was fined more than $30,000 for these violations.
Investing time and money in background checks for potential employees — as well as giving the proper attention and care to current workers — can help prevent incidents like this one from happening to your business. Here are some ways that you can avoid negligent hiring and retention in the future.
Conduct background checks.
This is especially important when you’re hiring candidates who will be working with children and the elderly, or anyone who will be in a caretaker position. A criminal history check can prevent negligent hiring by making sure that caregivers do not have felony records, or multiple arrests for similar charges (even if no conviction was reached).
Make sure you get the results before making hiring decisions.
In many cases, negligent hiring — and subsequent fines and delays — could have been avoided by simply waiting until background checks had been completed before making any hiring decisions. Just because a candidate looks great on paper doesn’t mean they’re above suspicion. Remember, people still do commit resume fraud and will avoid disclosing criminal convictions.
Invest in your employees.
Once you’ve made a hiring decision, have your HR department provide employees with the training necessary to succeed at their jobs. Investing time into your employees’ training and their job requirements may cost you a little in the short run, but can end up saving you big bucks over time. Lack of training can be just as harmful to your business as negligent hiring.
Contact Mind Your Business for more information about caregiver background checks.
photo credit: Rosie O’Beirne via photopin cc
Posted in background screening, criminal background checks, potential babysitter
It makes perfect sense to have a background check run on a potential candidate when you’re looking for a nanny for your children. Pet Sitters International has taken it a step further, ensuring that all of their pet-sitting professionals undergo annual criminal history screenings so clients can ensure their fur-babies are in the best possible hands.
Pet Sitters International is a network of pet-sitters in the United States, Canada and other countries around the world. When you have to leave your four-legged family members for any length of time, you want to ensure their safety just as you would for your own children. The screening process is intended to prevent animal cruelty, neglect, and identity theft, which are very real threats if you resort to negligent hiring practices.
The third-party screening system does an address trace and checks potential sitters’ county court records, which turns up the most accurate employee criminal history information. Each county in the country is required to hold onto records for at least seven years.
After a potential pet sitter has undergone and passed a third-party background screening, an icon will appear in his or her profile on the PSI website to indicate that the check has been passed.
PSI is the first pet-sitting organization to use a background check system to ensure the quality of their sitters. The background check policy will only apply in the U.S., as other countries have their own laws and systems on conducting background screening.
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