ESR Newsletter and Legal Update

This newsletter is sent to clients of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) as well as employers, Human Resources and Security professionals, and law firms who have requested information on pre-employment screening, safe hiring, the FCRA and legal compliance. Please note that ESR’s statements about any legal matters are not given or intended as legal advice but only general industry information. For specific legal advice, employers should contact their attorney. If this was sent in error, you can be removed from this mailing by simply using the “remove” feature at the end of the newsletter and you will not receive any future newsletters.

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November 2007 Vol. 7, No. 11

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Newsletter and Legal Update


1. Hot Off The Press: Despite Their Resources, an FBI and CIA Background Check Fails to Uncover an Applicant with False Credentials

2. New I-9 form Released for Employers

3. Urban Myth: A Social Security Trace Report from a Background Firm is from the Government

4. ESR in the News! ESR is the Official Background Screening Firm for Real Santas


1. Hot Off The Press: Despite Their Resources, an FBI and CIA Background Check Fails to Uncover an Applicant with False Credentials

When it comes to exercising due diligence in hiring, the two organizations that are probably among the best in the world are the CIA and the FBI. Not only do they have access to confidential governmental databases that private employers cannot access, but they spend substantial time and resources on each hire, including in-depth field interviews of references and past employers by trained professionals.

Yet even with all of these advantages it turns out that the FBI and CIA are not above having their hiring systems thwarted by a determined liar. In a highly published case, the FBI hired an agent with false credentials into a highly sensitive position, critical to the national security of the United States. On November 18, 2007, an FBI agent named Nada Prouty, who also did sensitive work for the CIA, was convicted in federal court of criminal charges relating to falsification of her employment application. According to a story in the New York Post,

Nada Prouty, 37, admitted last week she faked her first marriage to a Michigan man in 1990, enabling her to get US citizenship that helped her secure jobs with the FBI and CIA. Her star as an agent rose, and officials trusted her to grill al Qaeda sympathizers.

She also confessed to sneaking into government databases for secret information on her sister and brother-in-law, both linked to the Middle East terror group Hezbollah. See:(http://www.nypost.com/seven/11182007/news/nationalnews/jihad_janes_state_of_bliss_936973.htm)

Employers concerned about exercising due diligence in the hiring of employees can take some comfort in the fact that even the FBI and CIA do not get it perfect. A private employer is not held to the standard of perfection in hiring. The standard is whether the employer exercised due diligence to reasonably prevent a person that is unsafe, unqualified or unfit from being hired. Being able to document due diligence in a negligent hiring lawsuit is an employer’s best defense. Pre-employment screening of course, is an essential element of any due diligence program.


2. New I-9 form Released for Employers

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has just released a new version of the Form I-9 for use by employers. In a press release dated November 23, 2007, the USCIS reminded employers that they must transition to the revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) not later than Dec. 26, 2007 and that all employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for each employee hired in the United States.
http://www.uscis.gov/files/pressrelease/FormI9Reminder112307.pdf

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (“IRCA”) makes all U.S. employers responsible for verifying, through a specific process, the identity and work authorization or eligibility of all individuals, whether U.S. citizens or not, hired after November 6, 1986. To implement this, employers are required to complete Employment Eligibility Verification Forms I-9 for all employees. An employer’s obligation to review documents is not triggered until a person has been hired, whereupon the new employee is entitled to submit a document or combination of documents of his choice to verify his identity and work eligibility.

The new form modifies the list of documents that can, and cannot, be used. The new form also makes providing the Social Security number voluntary, except for employees hired by employers participating in the USCIS Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification Program (E-Verify).

The new form can is located at: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/I-9.pdf

The USCIS also issued a 47 page handbook on I-9 compliance. See: http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/m-274.pdf

Employers also have the option of utilizing the E-Verify program that allows employers to access databases administered by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to check the information on an I-9 form to determine that individual’s employment eligibility. Although the program is voluntary at this time under federal law, many employers find there are advantages to having direct access to government data.

ESR is qualified to act as an employer’s Designated Agent to perform the verifications through the E-Verify program. Many employers find that utilizing ESR as their agent to participate in the program saves time and money. Most critically, if an employee is not verified, ESR can help walk an employer through the necessary next steps.

To participate in the E-Verify (Basic Pilot) Program, an employer must first provide ESR with information so that ESR can register the employer. As part of the registration process, an employer must execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets forth the responsibilities of the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau, and the employer.

See: http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php

Contact Jared Callahan at ESR by pone at 415-898-0044 or e-mail at jcallahan@esrcheck.com for more information.


3. Urban Myth: A Social Security Trace Report from a Background Firm is from the Government

(This is the fourth story about Urban Myths and Employment. The first myth was that employers do not need to perform background checks on licensed professionals. The second myth was that credit scores are used by employers for hiring. The third myth was that once a judge removed a criminal record that the actual record can never be found again.)

A standard tool used by nearly every pre-employment screening firm is a “Social Security Trace.” In cases where an employer does not have a sound business reason to obtain a credit report, obtaining the Social Security Trace can give information about a person’s past addresses and will help to discover any identity fraud issues. It also helps employers determine where to search for criminal records. It is a record that provides names and addresses that are associated with a social security number in records maintained by credit bureaus. Some screening firms use an enhanced tool called an “Address Information Manager” that contains data from numerous other databases.

Many employers mistakenly believe these searches are an “official” recitation of government records. The Social Security Trace information is NOT being accessed directly from government records, and is therefore not an official verification of a Social Security Number. A Trace report may contain data from the Social Security Administration’s list of deceased individuals, but usually the report is created from data found in the databases created by private firms.

In addition, it is critical to understand that a Social Security Trace report is NOT an official registry of current or past addressees. For a number of reasons, current and past addresses will not appear on a Trace report if the applicant never used those addresses in any dealings of interest to the major credit bureaus. On occasion, there may be no names or addresses associated with an SSN. This can occur when a person has never applied for credit, they are too young to be in the credit bureau records, or they are new to this country and have not built a credit history.

An employer should never make a direct hiring decision based upon the absence of an address in a Social Security Trace. Although Trace reports can be helpful for identity purposes and for determining where to search for criminal records, they are not positive proof of identify or the validity of a Social Security Number. However, the information in a Trace report can be the basis for further research of an applicant.

In addition, a screening firm can provide a state of issue and year of issue. This information also does not come from official government records. Rather, the information is based upon publicly available informatin on how a social security number is issued. The first three numbers reflect the state of issue and the middle two numbers are related to year of issue. However, not all Americans will obtain a social security number at the same age, so that information may not be as useful as it appears.

For more information about the Social Trace reports and social security number and screening, see, “The Safe Hiring Manual,” by ESR President, Lester Rosen.


4. ESR in the News! ESR is the Official Background Screening Firm for Real Santas

ESR is pleased to announce that it has been selected as the official background screening for “Real” Santa’s. A real Santa is gentleman with an authentic bread and holiday spirit. ESR is pleased to help children everywhere enjoy a safe and happy holiday season. For more information, see: www.Realsantas.com. See the Story at http://www.redding.com/news/2007/nov/27/not-so-jolly-santa/

ESR has recently been featured in two Human Resources articles in national HR publications.

In the October 2007 issue of HR Magazine published by SHRM, the issue of “How Deep Can You Probe,” is examined. ESR president Lester S Rosen is quoted at length on the legal implications of background screening.

In the July issue of Human Resources Executive, ESR President Lester Rosen is also quoted in an article on. “Immigration and Aggravation.” Rosen is quoted on issue involved in using biometric measurements for immigration controls. The article concludes with a quote from Rosen that “The employers who do the bare minimum are the one who get into trouble. When its easy entry, it’s easy fraud.”

ESR 2007 Schedule

December 6-7, 2007 Bangalore, India “Background Screening for US Firms with Operations in India and the Pacific Rim.” Keynote Address at the International Pre-employment Screening Conference, The Taj West End Hotel, (details to follow) Contact ESR for further details. The ESR 2008 Speaking schedule will be available shortly.

ESR is pleased to announce new services that are available to US employers:

  1. In-depth Searches and Litigation Support ESR has introduced a new service, an “Integrity Check,” for businesses that need in-depth research on partners, key executives, prospective members of a Board of Directors, and other highly sensitive positions, It is also ideal for law firms for litigation preparation. See: http://www.esrcheck.com/IntegrityCheck.php
  2. Vendor Checks ESR has introduced a new program to allow businesses to check their vendors. Businesses who would never allow an employee onsite without due diligence, can not ensure that the same due diligence is applied to vendors, independent contracts or temporary employees. For more information, contact Jared Callahan at jcallahan@ESRcheck.com or at 415-898-0044, ext. 240.

ESR announces that the Safe Hiring Certification Training is now available in four separate mini-courses, in addition to the intensive 30 Hour course. The smaller course allows participants to focus in on just those areas of immediate interest and need. This is the first and only online educational and professional development course designed for employers, human resources and security professionals, and anyone responsible for risk management and due diligence in hiring.

The Safe Hiring Certification Training is a self-paced, on-line course that can be accessed at any time from anywhere, including at work.

Features of this course include:

  • Convenient 24/7/365 availability through any online connection
  • 21 self-paced lessons on Safe Hiring practices
  • A printable, 190-page workbook to facilitate note-taking and preparation for review quizzes
  • Review quizzes after each lesson featuring more than 300 questions about safe hiring
  • Easy access to useful Safe Hiring web-links
  • Sample safe hiring forms to help guide your own form development
  • Industry certification in Safe Hiring
  • Additional audio pointers by author Les Rosen (requires speakers but not a requirement for course completion)

Through this course, participants will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to implement and manage a legal and effective safe hiring program, including employment screening background checks. Upon successful completion, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion, marking a significant professional accomplishment. The course is offered at no charge to ESR clients.

The course is available at http://esr.coursehost.com

More information is available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/ESRonlineSafeHiringCourse.php

  • ESR wrote the book on background checks! – The Safe Hiring Manual, now in its third printing, is available from BRB Publications. Click here to read more. The definitive book on pre-employment screening, “The Safe Hiring Manual-The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters out of Your Workplace,” has undergone its third printing since its introduction a year ago. The new printing also contains updates and new material.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Rated Top Background Screening Firm in First Independent Industry Study. See the Press Release


Please feel free to contact Jared Callahan at ESR at 415-898-0044 or jcallahan@esrcheck.com if you have any questions or comments about the matters in this newsletter. Please note that ESR’s statements about any legal matters are not given or intended as legal advice.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR)

www.ESRcheck.com

1620 Grant Avenue, Suite 7

Novato, CA 94945

415-898-0044

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