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Beef Up Your Background Screening - Part I: Criminal

By: Celeste Ricco Monday, 4 August 2014


What goes into a typical pre-employment background screen?  Criminal History, Verifications, and maybe some industry or position-specifics, such as a credit report and OIG search.  

Professional background screening services help you answer the question, "Is there anything else we might want to know?"

In this three-part series, we will discuss criminal search expansion, verifications and going beyond pre-employment screening.


Part I: Criminal

A periodic review of your background screening program helps it grow and evolve with your business. This week’s focus is the criminal search:

  1.  Include alias names in your criminal search scope
  2.  Utilize broad and narrow search scopes for a comprehensive criminal background investigation


Alias Names

Ensure records are not missed due to a name change, intentional concealment or a habitual nickname.

In the criminal background world, the name is the window to the past.  If a one letter typo can cause a record to go undiscovered, a completely different alias name will most certainly result in the same!  This is not just applicable to maiden names.  Think of your childhood friend, Matthew, whose real first name was James; he just didn’t like being called James.  What happens if he accidentally writes down Matthew on the consent form and that’s all you run?


The Right Criminal Combo

You can directly impact your hit ratio if you (1) search alias names and (2) use a combination of broad (national) and focused (county) searches.

It’s easy to go to the nth degree if you want to get as much criminal history as possible on every applicant, but you’d be paying for 3,400+ counties and several databases to get it!  (…times all the alias names you’re now including.)  The right combination of criminal products is what produces a comprehensive report:

The National – The Verified National Criminal and Verified Enhanced National Criminal Searches are a great foundation.  The National databases are voluntarily reported to, although many counties are quite consistent in their reporting. The great value of this search is to find incidents occurring outside the applicant's residential stomping ground.  You also gain access to various databases without the a la carte expense, such as Sex Offender and Wants and Warrants. 

County Criminal – If you combine the National Search with a county search you’re just about golden!  In our 7 Year Misdemeanor and Felony search, our researchers work to uncover criminal records, directly from the courts, based on your applicant's address history.  This is the cornerstone of the criminal background search because crimes tend to be committed closer to home.  Address history paired with direct access to court records increases the chances obtaining a solid criminal background on the applicant. 


Compliance and Consistency

When expanding your criminal search criteria, ensure your implementation is effective so everyone submitting background checks utilize the same practices.  Inconsistencies can easily lead to EEOC violations.

Contact your Account Executive at Choice Screening to talk about your services and investigate expansion of your background screening program.

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Next time…

Our next topic will discuss the value of effective resume verifications, leading into the final topic, the re-screen and catchup screening.

Beef Up Your Background Screening Program - Part II: Resume Verifications

Beef Up Your Background Screening Program - Part III: The Re-Screen

Topics: Comprehensive, Criminal Background Checks, Choice Screening, Employment Background Screening

Celeste Ricco

Background screening enthusiast. Blogger. FCRA Advanced Certified by NAPBS. Dedicated to all things background screening!