Dangers of Background Check Firms Offshoring Personal Data of Americans Outside of US Revealed in Whitepaper

To alert U.S.-based employers and job seekers about the potential dangers caused by background check firms “offshoring” Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to countries such as India and the Philippines, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is offering a new whitepaper on the subject. The whitepaper written by ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen is titled ‘The Dangers of Offshoring Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Outside of United States’ and details the hazards of sending PII to counties that are well beyond the reach of U.S. privacy and identity theft laws. The complimentary whitepaper is available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/Download/.

ESR Is A Member of Concerned CRAs. Learn More >>

“Employers and consumers alike should be made aware of the many dangers of offshoring that include loss of privacy, identity theft, data breaches, quality of work issues, and lack of disclosure,” states Rosen, noted background check authority and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’ “Employers need to know if PII is offshored to assess if the cost savings are worth the privacy and quality considerations. Consumers should be told if offshoring is sending their personal information outside of the U.S.”

The whitepaper defines “offshoring” as the practice of some U.S. companies routinely sending the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of American consumers to foreign countries with cheaper production and labor costs to increase profits. PII is defined as data used for distinguishing individual identity, and may include:

  • Full name.
  • Birthday and birthplace.
  • Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Vehicle registration plate number.
  • Driver’s license number.
  • Credit card number.
  • National identification number.

The whitepaper also outlines the negative side effects of offshoring for employers and consumers:

  • Once PII goes offshore, it is beyond the protections if U.S. privacy laws, explains Rosen. An American who is the victim of identity theft as a result of offshoring cannot as a practical matter call foreign Police Departments and expect help.
  • Regardless of whether the information remains on the servers of the U.S. firm and is accessed abroad, or whether the foreign workers are technically on the payroll of the U.S. firm or a subsidiary, the problem is that a worker outside of the U.S. has access to PII.
  • Offshoring Information Technology (IT) jobs abroad can increase security risks. A survey of 350 IT Managers quoted in Security Management Magazine found that 69 percent of respondents said they thought outsourcing decreased network security while 61 percent said their company had experienced a data breach.
  • The American Transcription Association (ATA) is against the offshoring of transcription to workers outside of the United States because sending personal information outside of the country can lead to unsecured transfer of personal data and offshoring work also means U.S.-based transcriptionists are losing jobs.
  • Sensitive medical information can be compromised. A California hospital that outsourced its medical transcribing and the work ended up in Pakistan. A medical transcriber in Pakistan got into a dispute with her employer about wages and threatened to publish the medical records of thousands of Americans on the Internet. Needless to say, the hospital suffered a great deal of negative publicity and the confidentially of medical records for many Americans was endangered.
  • Generally, firms that offshore provide little or no disclosure to their clients or the client’s customers to avoid negative implications associated with the practice. California passed what appears to be the first law in the nation to address offshoring with Senate Bill 909 (SB 909), which took effect January 1, 2012. The California law does not prohibit or regulate offshoring, but amends the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRA) that regulates background checks in California to require that background check firms doing business in the state disclose in their privacy policies whether a consumer’s PII will be sent outside the country. It also requires that employer place the privacy policy of their screening firm on the authorization and disclosure form needed for a background check and provides for damages if consumers are harmed by offshoring.

To help combat offshoring of PII, a group of more than 125 like-minded Consumer Reporting Agencies (“CRAs”) formed the industry group ‘ConcernedCRAs’ that endorse and subscribe to a set of standards that opposes the processing of consumer reports outside of the United States. For more information, visit http://www.concernedcras.com/no_offshoring.htm.

As a member of ConcernedCRAs, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does not offshore PII and all processing and preparation of background checks are performed exclusively in the United States, with the only exception being international verification using information outside the U.S. ESR was also the third U.S. background screening firm to become “Safe Harbor” Certified for data privacy protection.

For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR)  – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’ and nationwide background screening company accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474.

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM – provides accurate and actionable information, empowering employers to make informed safe hiring decisions for the benefit for our clients, their employees, and the public. ESR literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by less than two percent of all screening firms. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:
The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com.