Large databases that track employee thefts and could prevent workers accused of theft in the past from finding new jobs in the retail industry will be examined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), according to a report from the New York Times. The article – ‘Retailers Track Employee Thefts in Vast Databases’ – is available on the Times website at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/business/retailers-use-databases-to-track-worker-thefts.html.
The Times reports the databases have “tens of thousands of subscribers” and are used by “major retailers” to combat employee theft, which the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates accounted for 44 percent of missing merchandise valued at $15 billion in 2011. However, the FTC has received complaints about the databases and will examine them for compliance with the FCRA, a federal law that protects consumers from inaccurate information while giving them more control over personal data.
While these employee theft databases contain “scant details about suspected thefts” and “routinely do not involve criminal charges,” the information can still “scuttle a job candidate’s chances,” according to the Times report. Employees suspected of theft who submit written statements after being questioned by store security officers “have no idea that they admitted committing a theft or that the information will remain in databases,” according to interviews conducted by the Times for the story.
The NRF’s vice president for loss prevention told the Times that retailers use employee theft databases because they “don’t want to take a chance on hiring somebody that they might have a problem with” and although “stores carefully train loss-prevention officers to ensure the admissions are accurate” and databases re-verify the information, if a suspected worker gives an inaccurate statement about the alleged theft the “options for getting it out of a database are slim.”
As previously reported by ESR News, the NRF released a survey in October 2011 titled ‘Background Screening: Protecting Retailers and Consumers’ that found nearly all retailers polled – 96.6 percent – utilized background checks during the application, hiring, and employment process. The NRF survey – completed by retail executives from leading department stores, mass merchants, discounters, drug stores, grocery stores, and restaurants – is available at http://www.nrf.com/backgroundscreening.
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – which does not sell any employee theft database products – offers background checks to ensure safe workplaces for employers, employees, and the public. For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ and nationwide screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at http://www.esrcheck.com or call Toll Free 888.999.4474.
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