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.
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:
- Negligent Hiring Lawsuits - Pre-Employment screening demonstrates due diligence
- Workplace Violence - History of criminal acts is a major factor in predicting workplace violence
- Unqualified Applicants - Up to 30% of applications contain material falsehoods
- Time Wasted Recruiting, Training, and Hiring the Wrong Applicants
- Wrongful Termination Lawsuits - Yes, even if they lied in the hiring process!
- Theft, Financial Loss, Sexual Harassment, and other Workforce Problems
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:
- To discourage applicants with something to hide. Simply having a pre-screening program may discourage inappropriate, unfit, dishonest, or unqualified job applicants.
- To eliminate uncertainty in the hiring process. Many employers have discovered the hard way that relying on instinct alone is not enough. Hard information is also an important part of the hiring process.
- To demonstrate Due Diligence. All employers have a reasonable duty of care in the hiring process. This means an employer must take reasonable steps to determine whether an employee is fit for a particular job. For example, if an employer who hires a bus driver and does not take reasonable efforts to determine whether the bus driver has a criminal record, it could be found liable if that driver assaults a passenger and a reasonable background check would have discovered the prior assaults.
- To encourage honesty in the application and interview process. Employers find that just having a background program will encourage applicants to be more forthcoming about their history.
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."
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. ESR was one of the pioneers and early innovators in creating totally paperless technology systems, with the ESR Applicant Generated Reports® (AGR) system resulting in more privacy for applicants and less cost and risk for employers. It can be utilized on any phone, tablet, or computer.
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.
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 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 help ensure that the rights of their applicants are being respected.
ESR also helps make certain thatclients understand all of the rules and limitations about the fair, appropriate and non-discriminatory use of criminal records. A 2012 Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has laid out in detail the process employers should utilize in order to make sure that criminal records ae used fairly. ESR makes extensive material available to clients on the fair and proper use of criminal records.
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.
ESR obtains information as quickly as it is can, leveraging advanced information transfer technology. Orders initiated through the ESR Applicant Generated Reports® (AGR) system begin processing immediately upon the applicant providing all the required data. Court house searches, for example, are dispatched electronically to the researchers for each jurisdiction. In many jurisdictions, ESR utilizes its powerful state of the art proprietary software to perform an initial search. Results are returned electronically as well. Importantly, all ESR background check information comes from the primary source that holds the record(s), not unreliable “instant” third party databases.
The majority of ESR background check reports that include information beyond criminal records such as employment and education verifications complete within 24-72 hours; reports containing only criminal record information have an average turnaround-time of less than 24 hours.
ESR clients receive reports each day that show the work in progress and what has yet to complete. Many times there is enough information in what has already been completed to make the hiring decision, so these daily updates can help expedite filling an open position.
Unfortunately, the public record screening process does sometimes have delays that are beyond anyone’s control. The reasons for delays may include:
- Criminal Records: Criminal records research can be delayed if the court clerk needs to obtain a hard copy file to find information not found in the public docket, or where the court’s general process to obtain a public record takes additional time consuming steps. No one can control how long a court takes to provide public record information.
- Employment Verifications: 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.
- Education Verifications: In the case of school records delays arise where the school is closed or on break, or in cases where verification can only be done by mail or a check is required.
- Motor Vehicle Records: Driving records in some states are subject to delays due to special forms being required.
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.
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."
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:
- 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
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.
ESR client services representatives will assist new clients in reading and understanding a consumer reports during client onboarding and training and are always available to assist any client with any question about a report. ESR online reports are extremely easy to read and contain features for easy review and navigation such as color codes sections, a convenient summary, and links that quickly takes the user to any section they wish to review. The reports also truncates information about applicants such as their social security number and date of birth to help protect your applicant’s privacy.
The first page of an ESR report identifies the employer, the consumer by name, and identifiers such as a truncated social security number and date of birth, among other identifiers. Personal information about the consumer is truncated in order to protect privacy. The first page will also contain a Summary Table that shows “clear” or “review” status for each background check search type with hyperlinks to the results part(s) of the report.
ESR provides numerous services, but here are is information about three commonly requested services:
- Criminal records: If a criminal record is located, ESR goes through an extensive procedures to ensure that the information is complete, accurate and up to date, reportable under appropriate laws, and applies to your applicant. Only primary source, on-site courthouse searches or government maintained courthouse equivalent sources are used in report preparation. An ESR report will include information on the Court, identifiers to show the relationship between the criminal matter and a consumer, and pertinent details about the offense. However, an employer must make certain they understand all of the rules and limitations about the fair, appropriate and non-discriminatory use of criminal records. A 2012 Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has laid out in detail the process employers should utilize in order to make sure that criminal records ae used fairly. ESR makes extensive material available to clients on the fair and proper use of criminal records.
- Past Employment and Education: Since its critical for an employer to know an applicant’s past job history and educational accomplishments, ESR provides a number of verification services. In each case, ESR carefully documents information we obtain. ESR undertakes numerous steps to ensure that information provided by an applicant is honest and accurate. That information will be contained in an ESR report so that an employer can quickly review the information ESR obtained. There are unfortunately an increasing number of occasions when applicants have exaggerated or falsified their credentials, or touted worthless educational degrees obtained online form degree mills. ESR takes numerous steps to protect employers against this type of dishonesty.
As a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and corresponding state and local laws, ESR is under a number of restrictions in terms of what can and cannot be reported.
The FCRA has a general rule concerning accuracy. It states that a CRA "shall follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information." For that reason:
- ESR never relies upon unofficial database information for criminal records research and reporting.
- ESR always takes steps to confirm the accuracy of the information from the primary source which is the local, state, or federal courthouse.
- If ESR does not have sufficient information to relate a criminal record to the subject of the background check, it is not reported.
ESR supports and follows the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), local, state, and federal nondiscrimination laws, and the anti-retaliation provisions of civil rights laws. Accordingly, ESR does not report on:
- Any disability, medical, or genetic condition.
- Civil matters involving any allegations of civil rights violations or claims made by an applicant against his or her prior and present employers.
Under the FCRA, local, state, and federal laws there are additional restrictions on what employers can consider and what screening firms can report. In that regard:
- ESR takes reasonable and appropriate measures to prevent the reporting of information that is prohibited by federal, state, and local laws.
- ESR has a policy of carefully vetting information so that we do not provide information to employers that they cannot consider.
Although ESR does not offer legal services and does not make legal judgments, ESR operates under generally accepted industry practices in making these determinations. For example:
- ESR will suppress arrests, or criminal matters that have been set aside, if an employer operates in a state that prohibits them from being considered.
- In states that disallow use of criminal records older than seven years, ESR suppresses convictions beyond that limit.
- Ten states currently have restrictions on the use of credit reports for employment and ESR has tools that help an employer stay compliant.
It is ESR's philosophy that only accurate and actionable information should be provided to employers, and that an employer needs to work with a CRA that does not merely report raw data but provides a professional service that helps employers understand what information may be considered in making employment decisions.
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.
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 has also successfully completed a SOC 2 Type 2 Audit Report that confirms ESR meets high standards set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for protecting the security, confidentiality, and privacy of the systems and information used by ESR to process the background check orders of customers. Definitive assurance is only provided through an independent SOC Audit Report. To learn more, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/SOC-2/.
ESR is a nationwide background check firm delivering Effortless Legal Compliance, Proven Expertise, Less Work/Lower Cost, Results You Can Trust, and Painless Migration. ESR offers a variety of background screening services and solutions to promote safe workplaces.
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. 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.
- ESR utilizes paperless, cutting edge technology that seamlessly integrates with any system.
- ESR has proven its commitment to privacy and data protection with a SOC Type 2 certification.
- ESR is an industry leader that has produced the leading book on background checks, “The Safe Hiring Manual,” and offers extensive educational material about safe hiring.
- ESR is an Approved Provider for the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and a Preferred Provider for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
- ESR provides industry leading customer service – every call is answered without delays.
- ESR has introduced Assured Compliance, the first and only system with built in federal and state legal compliance for employers.
- ESR performs all services in the USA.