This newsletter is sent to clients of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) and employers, HR and Security professionals and law firms who
have requested information from ESR on pre-employment
screening, safe hiring and legal compliance. If this was sent in
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March 2003 Vol. 3, No. 3

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Newsletter and Legal Update

1. ESR Seeks Further Changes in California Law

2. The Patriot Act, Terrorist Searches and Pre-Employment Screening

3. New Identify Theft Scams at Major Job Boards

4. ESR Update: New Partner and Workshops

ESR Seeks Further Changes in California Law-Input from HR Professionals
and Labor Lawyers Needed

2002, ESR reported on efforts to amend AB 655, the bill aimed
at identity theft that made it much harder for California employers to engage
in safe hiring. ESR’s president and attorney, Les
Rosen, worked with the author of the bill in Sacramento by helping draft
language in the clean-up bills and testifying before the state legislature on why
California employers needed the law to change. The clean-up bills, AB 1068 and AB 2868 were signed into law in
September, 2002.

there are still potential problems for employers. ESR is working with
others to go back to Sacramento to make further changes. Any HR or Security
professional or labor attorney that has any thoughts or suggestions should
contact ESR. To find
out more about the proposed changes or to assist in the effort in Sacramento,
please contact Les Rosen at [email protected]

2. The Patriot Act, Terrorist Searches and Pre-employment

In the aftermath of the events of 9/11, Congress passed the
U.S. Patriot Act. For employers, it
created the need to deal with a wide range of privacy issues, in view of the
ability of the government to obtain information that employers normally keep

The Act was also aimed at
controlling money that is used to finance terrorists’ activities by ensuring
that financial institutions know their clients, which includes running a search
of the list maintained by the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). One of the most important aspects of the
Patriot Act is that the definition of a financial institution has been
considerably enlarged.

For financial institutions, in
order to ensure that they know at least as much about their employees as they
are required to know about their customers, ESR advises performing a
Terrorist Search.
This search
consists of not only the OFAC search, but also other available databases that
identify potential threats.

Contact ESR for a copy of
the: ESR Special Report:

Financial Institutions and Pre-employment Screening in the
Aftermath of 9/11:

The Significance of OFAC, the Patriot Act and Terrorist Searches

3. New
Identify Theft Scams at Major Job Boards – New
Threat to Privacy

MSN has reported a new type of
identity theft scam. An
applicant responded to a job posting on for a great job. The HR director e-mailed a note that the
applicant needed to send in information required for a “background
check” as part of the interview process. Eager for work, the applicant sent off the critical details of his
identity– including his Social Security number, age, height, weight, mother’s
maiden name, and even his bank account numbers.

It turned out go be a big scam by
a person committing identity theft according to a story at Wired online.,1367,57923,00.html:

“It’s the first time we’ve heard of (a scam involving) someone
claiming a background check,” said Les Rosen, president of
Employment Screening Resources. “Because background
screening is heavily regulated, the idea that somebody would claim a background
check through the Internet makes no sense.”

Regulated under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, background checks
involve a written authorization from an applicant, who is entitled to a
separate written disclosure before the process occurs.

“Simply clicking a button on the Internet is not legally
sufficient,” Rosen said.

For more details
on how consumers can protect themselves, see ESR’s recommendations below.

4. ESR Update: New Partner and Workshops

Web site
: ESR is pleased to announce
the release of its new web site at

New Partner: The Personnel Perspective--Headquartered in Sonoma County, California. The
Personnel Perspective
provides consulting in human resources,
organizational development, training and recruiting. The firm helps
organizations hire, compensate and manage their employees to maximum
productivity, ranging from start-ups to mature and growing firms.
Their consultants are available for on-site or on call project work or service
support. See:

ESR Speaking and Workshop Schedule (ESR speaks all over the US on
Safe Hiring issues)

a full schedule, see

ESR President Les Rosen
will give presentations at the following venues

April 27-28–Pre-employment Screeners Conference: Spring 2003 West
Coast Educational Session: “Only in California: The Strange Saga of AB
655 and the Unique Rules for Screening in the Golden State.”
Beach, CA; Westin Hotel. See

April 23-24, 2003–Las Vegas, Nevada: SHRM 34th Annual Employment
Management Association (EMA) Conference and Exposition:
Criminals and Hiring-the Role of Criminal Records in the Hiring Process.”

April 17, 2003–Rohnert Park, CA: “Hiring
Winners!” Presented in conjunction with The Personnel Perspective. Doubletree Hotel –Breakfast meeting. For more information, contact
Jared Callahan at ESR (415-898-0044 ext. 240)

March 25, 2003--Santa Clara, CA. “Background Checks and
Reference Checking: A Catch-22 for Employers.”
by the Santa Clara County EAC.

March 18, 2003–Sacramento, CA- “How to Avoid
Hiring Problem Employees-10 Easy Steps Employers can take today (and cost
” No cost seminar offered by the State Compensation
Insurance Fund (SCIF) for California employers. Doubletree Hotel, Sacramento.
See brochure for further details and instructions for reserving a space.

March 11, 2003–Washington DC. SHRM 20th Annual Employment Law and
Legislative Conference
–“The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and
Employers–Developments and Trends Affecting Pre-Employment Screening and
Employee Investigation.”

feel free to contact ESR Customer Service at 415-898-0044, or
Les Rosen, President of ESR, if you have any questions or
comments about the matters in this newsletter. Les can be reached at
415-898-0044, ext. 246, or by e-mail at [email protected]. Please note that ESR’s statements about any legal matters are not given or intended as legal

Employment Screening Resources (ESR)

1620 Grant Avenue, Suite 7

Novato, CA 94945


The top rated pre-employment screening
firm in the first independent national ranking of the pre-employment screening
industry. See: Employment
Screening Resources (ESR) Rated Top Background Screening Firm in First
Independent Industry Study

Avoiding the newest
Internet Scam on phony background checks through job boards:


There have been recent press reports of a new identity theft scam
utilizing Internet job boards to obtain personal information from
consumers. One scam involved stealing information by posing as a
“recruiter” on a job board and asking for detailed information for a “background

In order to protect themselves from these sorts of scams, consumers should
be aware of the following:

1. Background checks are highly regulated under the federal Fair
Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and many state laws.

2. When a background check is performed, an applicant absolutely MUST
first give a written authorization for the background check.
Any request for information without such authorization means the request
is not real. In other words, the consumer must sign a piece of paper,
producing a “wet signature.” Simply clicking a button on the Internet
is not legally sufficient (there are some special rules for truck drivers

3. In addition, before any background process even begins, a Consumer is
entitled to a separate written disclosure that a background check will
occur. Unless the Consumer has received a written disclosure, it is not a
legally compliant background check.

4. Background checking
companies work for the EMPLOYER. Some of the scams involved asking job
applicants to send a form directly to a “background screening”
company. That is another sure sign to be very careful. A real background
screening procedure is initiated and handled by the employer or recruiter,
and NOT a background firm.

5. In addition,
there are certain items that a background firm will never ask a consumer
to provide. A background check never involves matters such as bank
accounts, credit card numbers, medical information of any nature or even a
physical description, such as ht/wt/eye color or hair color.

6. Background
checks do require a Social Security Number. However, applicants
should only provide that information directly to an employer or recruiter in an
environment where you are comfortable that there is the real possibility
of a job. A request for your Social Security Number would only be
asked as part of a legitimate employment process. If it is asked for
purposes of a background check, do not do anything until you have received
a written disclosure and you have signed an authorization.

7. Background firms will generally ask for date of birth at some point
during the process. Although employers cannot use date of birth to make
hiring decisions, background firms need the information for identification
purposes, since most court records use date of birth as a means of
identification. However, do not transmit that information over the Internet
and/or send directly to someone claiming to be performing a background
check. Just like Social Security numbers, it should only be released as
part of a legitimate employment process.

Online resources
are a great way to find out about employment opportunities. However,
use the same caution and common sense you would use in any part of the
employment process when it comes to giving out your personal information.
If a job or employer is for real, at some point there will be someone to
talk to in person and ways to make sure that everything is on the up-and-up.

(c) 2003 by Employment Screening


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