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Employment Background Check FAQs

The following is a brief introduction to our services and answers to frequently asked questions. Please contact ESR by email, fax, or phone for additional information. We only provide pre-employment screening services to businesses. We specialize in working with Human Resources and Security Departments.


Why Perform Pre-Employment Screening?

By utilizing a professional employee screening service, employers of all sizes across all industries can minimize or even avoid the financial and legal nightmares that come from hiring a person with an unsuitable criminal record, falsified credentials, or some other issue that makes him/her dangerous, unqualified, or unfit for the position. Lawsuits for negligent hiring are among the fastest growing areas of litigation in the U.S. and, as a result, employers who fail to demonstrate due diligence can be hit hard by juries. Nationally, the cost of human capital, including salaries, benefits, and hiring, is usually the largest single line-item in the budget of any firm and is responsible for a third of business costs. Given that employees are both the biggest single investment any employer can make and the biggest source of risk, doesn't it make sense to know who you are hiring?

The use of employment screening background checks can help employers avoid:

Why pre-screen?

Employers have become painfully aware of the tremendous consequences of bad hiring decisions. Prescreening promotes a safe and profitable workplace. Employment background screening is an effective risk management tool that has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of a bad hire. Employers typically engage in pre-employment screening for four reasons:

Performing background screenings is certainly not a guarantee that every bad applicant will be discovered. For the prices charged by prescreening firms, employers cannot expect an in-depth and exhaustive FBI-type investigation. However, just engaging in screening program demonstrates due diligence and provides an employer with a great deal of legal protection.

It is also important to understand that a prescreening program is aimed at how a person has performed in the public aspect of their lives. Items such as a criminal records or previous job performance reflect how a person behaved towards others or discharged his/her obligations or responsibilities.  Screening is NOT an invasion of privacy, a sign of mistrust, or an act of "Big Brother."

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How do we do it?

Our program is integrated seamlessly into the hiring process. After receiving your applicant's written consent, ESR searches numerous public and private records and contacts schools, licensing authorities, and previous employers. 

Since ESR is the firm that literally wrote the book on background checks, employers can be assured that ESR is accessing the most accurate source of information for clients. See the Services page for more details on what we search.

ESR is also available for consultation with our clients on background screening issues.

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Is it legal?

 

Employers have become painfully aware of the tremendous consequences of bad hiring decisions. Prescreening promotes a safe and profitable workplace. Employment background screening is an effective risk management tool that has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of a bad hire. Employers typically engage in pre-employment screening for four reasons:

Performing background screenings is certainly not a guarantee that every bad applicant will be discovered. For the prices charged by prescreening firms, employers cannot expect an in-depth and exhaustive FBI-type investigation. However, just engaging in screening program demonstrates due diligence and provides an employer with a great deal of legal protection.

It is also important to understand that a prescreening program is aimed at how a person has performed in the public aspect of their lives. Items such as a criminal records or previous job performance reflect how a person behaved towards others or discharged his/her obligations or responsibilities.  Screening is NOT an invasion of privacy, a sign of mistrust, or an act of "Big Brother."

As the legal compliance leaders, all ESR procedures comply fully with applicable federal and state legal standards. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is reviewed on this site.  Overall legal compliance is reviewed in detail in "The Safe Hiring Manual," the first definitive book on background checks by ESR.  

ESR also handles all the legally required procedures for employers, such as providing applicants with copies of reports and notices of consumer rights. By using ESR, employers legally protect themselves and ensure that the rights of their applicants are being respected.

In addition, ESR has been issuing monthly legal updates for the past ten years.  We keep clients current and compliant. 

Although ESR does not provide legal advice to its clients, our legal staff ensures that ESR procedures comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other Federal and State laws concerning privacy and discrimination.

Important Legal Notice:  Although ESR takes steps to ensure all of its procedures are in compliance with all state and federal rules, ESR does not provide any legal services/opinions. ESR recommends that client consult their legal counsel regarding their specific legal responsibilities. Furthermore, employers understands that there are legal requirements imposed by the federal FCRA and, in some instances, state consumer reporting laws, regarding taking adverse action against a consumer based on a consumer report and ESR recommend that client consult with their legal counsel to develop a legally compliant adverse action policy. In addition, ESR recommends that client consult with their legal counsel to develop an employment screening program specific to their needs to ensure that client’s policies and procedures related to the use of information provided by ESR are in compliance with applicable state and federal laws.

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How long does it take?

ESR online background checks are normally provided in three working days in an easy-to-understand written format. ESR is not an information broker that simply provides raw data or computer printouts. ESR reports highlight and summarize important information. For example, when a firm orders a credit report from ESR, we do not simply attach the report. We will give our client a breakdown of the important facts and highlight items that employers may be concerned about. In addition, where there is negative information, ESR will provide human resources policy notes on accepted industry standards for the use of that information.

IAt the end of the third full business day, ESR suggests an employer check the status of an order. If any item is incomplete, check the reason and determine if there is enough information to make the hiring decision. There are five (5) reasons why information is not available; however, there may be enough information to make the hiring decision. The reasons for delays can include:

  1. Criminal records can be delayed if the court clerk needs to obtain a file. No one has control over how long a court clerk takes to provide information. ESR maintains a list of courts currently experiencing delays.   This list is available in the password-protected area of ESRnet.
  2. An employer will not return calls despite repeated attempts or a past employer cannot be located, has no records, has moved, or is no longer in business. ESR will make three solid attempts to contact an employer. ESR has found that after three attempts it is unlikely an employer will respond.
  3. In the case of school records where the school is closed or on break.  Or in cases where verification can only be done by mail or a check is required.
  4. Driving licenses in some states are subject to delays.
  5. The date of birth is required to obtain or verify some information has not been provided. ESR will contact you when that occurs.
  6. In addition, orders are processed faster when all information necessary is provided in a legible manner.
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What does it cost?

A background screening by ESR is typically less than the cost of a new employee on just the first day of employment.  An employer has a great deal of flexibility on its employment screening packages.   The cost is minor compared to the damages a bad hire can cause.

In addition, ESR offers REAL BACKGROUND CHECKS.  Employers should not be confused by firms that appear to offer screening but take dangerous short-cuts that leave employers exposed. 

All services include training, support, and consultations for Human Resources and Security Departments.

Please note that in some instances, courts, governmental entities, schools or employers charge a fee to provide records.  For example, many states charge a state fee to access driving record information.  Many counties or states charge for criminal records.  Some employers and schools utilize third party database services.  All such “third party fees”  are passed on to ESR clients at the actual cost imposed by the third party.  These additional fees are out of our control and in are in addition to the fees charged by a screening firm for services.   We only pass them on when we are charged and do not mark them up in any way.

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Does my firm risk alienating applicants?

The Background Check procedure is non-intrusive and respects your applicants' privacy rights. Good applicants are also eager to work with qualified co-workers in a safe workplace. Our release form advises your applicant that:

"A background check is not only for the benefit of the company as a sound business practice, but also for the benefit of all employees. It is no reflection on an applicant."  See the ESR article on "Background Screening Can Help both Bosses and Job Applicants."  

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What's involved in setting up a screening program?

A program can be set up very quickly and easily.  Our ESR background specialists are here to work with you every step of the way.

First, we analyze your risks and needs to come up with a cost-effective program for your business. We assist you with legal compliance, including the necessary forms (although we do not provide legal advice). 

We can also provide a sample employee manual and internal policy forms.  We will provide all of the training needed, and send employer documentation about the program. 

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How do we select a screening firm?

There are large differences between screening firms. The most important point is that background screening is a legally regulated professional service, and not just a matter of sending data to an employer. In fact, 'The Safe Hiring Manual' by Employment Screening Resources (ESR) founder & CEO Les Rosen is 724 pages, and that is just the tip of the iceberg!

To select a firm that is right for you, ESR has provided some of the following information.  

To see more detailed information on why ESR is different than most other firms, visit:  The ESR Advantage

» For an article by ESR on How to Select a Background Screening Firm

» For a sample Request for Proposal (RFP) to a Background Screening Firm

» Sample 23 question Yearly Due Diligence Audit for a Background Screening Firm

» 45 Questions to Ask a Background Screening Firm

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What if our company needs the information right away?

ESR obtains information as quickly as it is physically possible. Our philosophy is that all orders are a "rush."  With the ESR online system, requests for information are transmitted instantly and all data is available in real-time, 24/7.  In the event of an emergency, contact your ESR Customer Service representative.

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Why should a firm outsource this service?

Pre-employment screening is a time consuming and detailed task that requires highly specialized knowledge and resources. It is also subject to numerous legal regulations. Many firms have found that it is an inefficient use of their time and resources to attempt to perform a service that a specialist can do efficiently and cost-effectively.

Even firms with fully staffed Human Resources or Security departments have found that outsourcing this service is more efficient and allows them to focus on tasks that can only be performed inside the company. Many HR and Security professionals also prefer that a new employee's first contact with their department not be a background check. Also, outsourcing this service does not leave a new employee feeling that confidential information about them is being obtained by others in the firm.

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Why use ESR?

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) has achieved the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) Accreditation for successfully proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAPP) and is now formally recognized as NAPBS Accredited. To become accredited, a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) must pass a rigorous onsite audit, conducted by an independent auditing firm, of its policies and procedures as they related to six critical areas of the BSAAP: Consumer Protection, Legal Compliance, Client Education, Product Standards, Service Standards, and General Business Practices. To read more about ESR being NAPBS accredited, visit ESR NAPBS Accreditation .

ESR is like having your own in-house screening specialists. We make it easy to protect your firm. We specialize in background screenings and in fact wrote the book on background checks and safe hiring.  ESR combines human resources, legal, and public records searching expertise in providing your company with fast, accurate, and cost-effective employment pre-screening. We understand that companies need a program that fits seamlessly into their hiring practices. Our focus is in working with Human Resources and Security Departments. Unlike other firms, ESR is not just a data gathering service providing computer printouts or raw data. Our reports highlight and summarize our findings for easy reference. We look for "red flags" that may concern an employer. We provide human resources policy notes, where applicable, based upon industry standards. Because the applicants we screen may become your trusted employees, the process is designed to respect applicant privacy.

Furthermore, ESR has a full time legal staff to ensure compliance with Federal and State laws. Although ESR does not provide legal services to its clients, ESR does ensure that its processes are in compliance with legal requirements.

ESR was started by an experienced investigator with extensive experience in corporate security and a criminal law attorney with years of experience in criminal investigations.

In reviewing the Internet, it is clear there are a number of screening firms that advertise their service.  Although there are many excellent screening firms, when doing some digging, it also appears that there are many firms that are  background screening firms in name only.  ESR only does one thing:  pre-employment screening background checks.  ESR is not an Internet marketing firm in disguise, not a branch of a foreign-owned company trying to make money in the U.S. market, not a fake front for some other firm, not a data vendor that views the Internet as a way to sell data for a quick buck, not a firm that dabbles in employment screening as a side business, and not investigators that do a little screening on the side.  We are employment screening experts.  Background screening and risk management are our only business.  Period.

ESR  takes the approach that background screening is a heavily legally regulated, knowledge based professional service that requires a great deal of expertise.  The pre-employment background screening experts at ESR are always there to help.  In selecting a screening firm, employers may want to consider sticking to organizations that have a demonstrated commitment to risk management and helping employers as their primary mission.  If an employer has a question about the ability of a screening firm to do the job, ESR has prepared a 23 question audit that can be sent to a screening firm to determine if they are for real.

ESR preforms all services in the U.S.  Employer should very carefully consider the dangers of using a screening firm that utilizes at home operators for domestic verifications or sends your data off-shore for processing.   Such a practice puts the employer at risk.  Do you want your job applicant's personal and private information spread out in living rooms, kitchen tables and dorms across America, or available to off-shore operators beyond the reach of U.S. privacy laws, not to mention the lack of quality control and standards?  Employers are strongly advised to avoid the use of screening firms who are willing to sacrifice quality and privacy just to increase their profits at your expense. 

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Certified with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners ESR's SOC 2 Audit Report confirms it meets high standards set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for protecting customer information PCI-DDS Compliance Certified Safe Harbor US Department of Commerce Services Perfromed in the USA Safe Hiring Manual Founding Member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners