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Four Background Screening Tips for the Holidays

Mike Faber December 7, 2015

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With the holidays, and 2016, right around the corner, many organizations will be adding staff and volunteers to help with the winter rush. Churches often add staff for children’s ministries around this time, as even Santa needs to have his background checked to ensure that he’s been nice and not naughty.

Background screening is always important, but especially so when you’re bringing in seasonal help. Keep these four background screening tips for the holidays in mind as important criteria when you work with a reputable background screening firm.

  1. Crimes travel with a person’s name, not their social security number. Including an individual’s alias names (maiden name, hyphenated etc.) in your searches provides a better chance of connecting applicants with a criminal history.
  2. Screen everyone who will be representing your organization. At SecureSearch we recommend annual background checks for new/returning volunteers and seasonal staff. If they’re wearing a name badge with your organization’s name on it, they’re worth screening.
  3. “Ban the Box” efforts across the country are gathering steam. In general, these laws mean you cannot ask prospective employees or volunteers if they have a criminal history until a conditional offer has been made. Less transparency in the application process means a higher level of due diligence must be applied when background screening takes place. Know your state and community rules regarding “ban the box” and ensure that your applications are in compliance.
  4. Do not depend on fingerprint records to paint the entire picture. Close to half of arrests in the US do not result in fingerprints being taken, or in legible fingerprints. Name, alias names, address history and a search of the National Sex Offender registry are not tied to fingerprint history.

You can give your organization a gift that lasts all year long by taking time this holiday season to create a background screening policy. To do this, consider the parameters you want to apply to all applications for employment or volunteering. For instance, greeters may not need a credit check, but your staff accountant does. There may not be a need to check motor vehicle records for a deacon, but you will want that information for the returning college student who will be driving the church van.

Make sure any restrictions are in compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines and consult with an attorney to ensure that your policy is aligned with applicable state and federal laws. A Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Advanced Certification professional can also be a valuable resource when creating a background screening policy.

Mike Faber is a Vice President with SecureSearch Integrated Background Checks, based in Denver, CO. Mike has earned the FCRA Advanced Certification, a distinction held by fewer than 300 credit reporting agency professionals globally.

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