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Debunking Seven Background Check Myths

Date Published: October 04, 2021 | Last Updated:September 15, 2023 | By Katie Hartley
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The benefits of implementing a thorough background screening process into your organization are endless. As an employer, understanding the ins and outs of background screening can be confusing, especially since there are many background screening myths due to misconceptions and changing rules.  Below are some of the biggest misconceptions around background checks and why they aren’t true.

Myth 1 – Background checks take a long time to complete.

Many employers believe that background checks will hold up their hiring process, and as a result, choose to skip this important step. The truth of the matter is that background checks don’t take as long as you may believe. Most background checks can be done in around three days and even as little as 24 hours, depending on the type of background screening process.

Myth 2 – All background check providers are the same.

Over 1,800 background screening companies exist solely in the U.S., all claiming that they can provide you with the most accurate and best services. However, there are many differences between each background screening provider and, as an employer, it’s important to know how to distinguish the best from the rest.

One of the largest reasons to choose a background check provider carefully is due to compliance. Since rules, regulations, local and state laws are always changing, it’s important to pick a reputable background that reduces your liability exposure and keeps up with compliance.

At Accurate Background, background check compliance is built into all of our technologies and services. Our platform automatically distributes the right notices, including pre-adverse and adverse action notices on the employer’s behalf. Our experienced team ensures that your company can maintain compliance no matter where you are.

Myth 3 – Each background check provider has the same process for Identity Verification.

Most comprehensive background checks in the U.S. start with what many call a National SSN Trace.  This search can be pulled from a database of thousands of sources like magazine subscriptions, utility bills, online accounts, and credit history.

It is recommended you look for a background check provider that gets their National SSN Trace from a database that pulls from thousands of sources.  You are more likely to uncover a comprehensive address history that way.

Myth 4 – Small and mid-size companies don’t need background checks.

Another common misconception is that only large companies need to conduct background checks. Small and mid-size companies value hiring the right talent just as much as large companies. Since the average cost of one bad hire is nearly $15,000, smaller companies are more at risk of revenue loss from hiring the wrong candidate. Therefore, background checks are important for every company looking to make smart hiring decisions.

Myth 5 – Any employer can receive instant access to a candidate’s motor vehicle report (MVR).

Be wary of background check companies that claim they have instant MVR access in all states in the United States.  While many states are quick to return results, others have additional requirements before releasing the information. Thus, any company offering an “instant” check is quite possibly pulling it from a database that is not updated in real-time, instead of directly from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Additionally, there are various state regulations to be aware of when requesting an individual’s personal motor vehicle report. For example, Washington requires a special release form signed by your candidate in order to pull a motor vehicle report. Your organization must keep these release forms in case of an audit. The state of Pennsylvania requires either a one-time signed affidavit before your organization can process driving record checks or a special release form from each candidate each time a driving record is requested.  Only certain permissible purposes are allowed by Pennsylvania before they will grant access to driving records without the special release form.  In the state of California, an organization is not allowed to pull just a motor vehicle report as it relates to employment or contracted work*. The organization needs to run an additional background service, like criminal history, in order to stay compliant with the state of California.

Lastly, not all states share driving history information with other states unless the person has a commercial driver’s license. So, if your candidate has moved recently and is giving you a new license number in the state of current residence, you might want to ask for three years of driver’s license numbers. When choosing a background check vendor, it is important that they are up to date with all laws, regulations, and best practices when it comes to ordering motor vehicle reports so they can be your partner in navigating the rules.

Myth 6 – Background checks are only necessary for pre-employment screening.

Pre-employment screening is a great way to ensure your company is hiring safe and quality candidates, but what about after? 12% of the workforce may experience an arrest over the next five years, so it should be in your company’s best interests to implement continuous monitoring to keep your organization safe. Continuous monitoring is the process of periodically screening and monitoring employee records for any threats and safety concerns. Continuous monitoring is especially important for certain industries, such as the gig economy, whose companies like Uber and Lyft rely on their workers to have clean driving records.

Myth 7 – A candidate’s criminal record will disqualify a candidate.

Many job seekers fear that their criminal history will ruin their chances of landing the job. However, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires employers to undergo adverse action and allow candidates to defend their actions, while the EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination. Many employers today now take many considerations into factor when looking at a candidate’s criminal history, including the type of crime and whether it relates to the job or not.

Background checks exist to help organizations protect the health and safety of their organization. It’s essential to choose a trusted partner that provides legally compliant and accurate information to you as quickly as possible. Want to learn more on how Accurate can help your team’s hiring process? Contact the team today.


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