Background Checks and Fingerprinting Considered for California State Health Insurance Exchange Workers

California state officials looking to hire 20,000 workers to help individuals enroll in the state health insurance exchange are considering whether these new employees – known as “assisters” – should undergo background checks and fingerprinting, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times available at http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/15/business/la-fi-insure-criminal-checks-20130315.

The exchange – Covered California – is expected to open for registration in October 2013 and will mostly serve individuals and small businesses. The 20,000 “assisters” would not be government employees but work for not-for-profit and community groups to collaborate with the state on exchange enrollment. The state’s goal is to enroll 1.4 million Californians next year and over five million residents eventually.

However, the assisters would have access to sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of the individuals seeking health coverage through the exchange such as dates of birth, income and tax return data, and Social Security numbers (SSNs). Covered California has said these assisters should undergo background checks and fingerprinting to help prevent fraud and protect consumers, the Times reports.

The exchange board is expected to establish its rules and requirements for background checks this week. The exchange board also must decide what types of offenses should warrant disqualification. The Times reports that health insurance agents in California undergo fingerprinting and background checks every two years and state officials have revoked licenses of 514 agents or brokers since January 2011.

When applicants in the United States apply for jobs, they usually undergo background checks where they provide PII such as SSNs. What many job applicants and employers do not know is that certain U.S. background check firms “offshore” PII to foreign call centers and data processing locations in countries such as India and the Philippines beyond the protection of U.S. privacy and identity theft laws.

California Senate Bill 909 (SB 909) amends the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRA) that regulates background checks to require screening firms doing business in the state disclose in their privacy policies whether a consumer’s PII will be sent outside the country. To read SB 909, visit: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0901-0950/sb_909_bill_20100929_chaptered.pdf.

To help combat offshoring of PII, a group of more than 125 like-minded Consumer Reporting Agencies (“CRAs”) – another name for screening firms – 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 about ‘ConcernedCRAs,’ visit http://www.concernedcras.com/.

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.

To alert U.S.-based employers about offshoring, a whitepaper by ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen – ‘The Dangers of Offshoring Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Outside of United States’ –  details the hazards of sending PII to counties that are beyond the reach of U.S. privacy and identity theft laws. The complimentary whitepaper is available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/Download/.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) recommends that employers ask questions about offshoring before selecting a screening firm. For more information, visit ESR  – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ and nationwide screening company accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call Toll Free 888.999.4474.

Source: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/15/business/la-fi-insure-criminal-checks-20130315

About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call toll free 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. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/feed/. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.

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