This newsletter is sent to clients of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), as well as employers, Human Resources and Security professionals, and law firms who require information on pre-employment screening, safe hiring, the FCRA and legal compliance. If this was sent in error, you can be removed from this mailing by using the “remove” feature at the end of the newsletter.

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December 2005 Vol. 5, No. 12

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Newsletter and Legal Update

1. Background Checks on Santa Claus

2. Spotting Diploma Mills and Worthless Degrees

3. Danger! Using At –Home or Foreign-Based Operators for Employment Verifications and Background Checks

4. ESR Announcements and Seminars

1. Background Checks on Santa Claus

It is the time of year when retailers across the US are hiring Santa’s to sit in malls and retail stores to hear what children want for Christmas. However, some retailers and shopping malls are reporting that it has become more difficult to hire a seasonal Santa Claus because many candidates do not pass the background check.

Retailers potentially have an even greater duty of due diligence when it comes to hiring a Santa due to the particular risks involved. Santa’s have close contact with children. Even though a parent may be nearby, children are uniquely at risk with an unsuitable Santa. Not only are children a vulnerable group in general, but a child may instinctively trust the big, round jolly man in a red suit and white beard. Unfortunately, anyone can buy a red suit and beard for less than $50.

According to press accounts, background checks on Santa’s have revealed job candidates with child molestation convictions and other unsuitable elements in their background. Yes, background checks on prospective Santa’s can help to reveal which potential Santa has been naughty or nice.

So, without wanting to be the Grinch that cast a pall on the Holiday season, it is good practice for any retailer, property manager or staffing agency to ensure that the season is not spoiled by a bad Santa.

In the spirit of the holiday season, ESR performs background checks at no cost for its clients on candidates for Santa’s job.

2. Spotting Diploma Mills and Worthless Degrees

An important measure to take in the fight against false claims in the employment process is verifying educational claims. As detailed in the “Safe Hiring Manual,”

Educational credentials can be an important part of an employer’s decision-making process in hiring. Educational achievement tells an employer a great deal about an applicant’s ability, qualifications and motivation. Many employers feel that educational qualifications are a critical factor in predicting success on the job. For many positions, education is a prerequisite in terms of subject matter knowledge or for obtaining the appropriate license for the position.

Studies that examined resumes and applicants’ forms have shown that as many as 30% of all job applicants falsify information about their educational backgrounds. These falsifications can include outright fabrication such as making up degrees from legitimate schools the applicant never attended or valueless degrees from diploma mills.” (Page 221 of the “Safe Hiring Manual-the Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Terrorists and Imposters out of Your Workplace,” by ESR President Lester Rosen.)

Degree or Diploma mills are “fraudulent” colleges that offer potential students a degree with little or no actual work. They should not be confused with schools that offer legitimate and valuable distance learning. A degree mill identification process should include the following steps:

  • All institutions of higher education should be compared to databases of schools accredited by recognized accreditation agencies.
  • If a school is not accredited by a recognized accreditation agency, the school should be compared to a comprehensive list of diploma mills.
  • If a school is not accredited and has not been identified as a diploma mill, then the school should be researched and the research thoroughly documented. For example, the school’s web site should be examined to determine if the school claims an accreditation. Keep in mind that some fake schools have actually created fake accreditation agencies as well. The school web site also is reviewed to determine if there is a physical campus, course requirements for graduation, qualified faculty members, a library and other attributes of a school that can provide a real education that translates into qualifications for a job.

ESR follows these procedures for all educational verifications. For more information on how ESR tracks diploma mills on behalf of clients, contact Jared Callahan at [email protected] or call 415-898-0044 ext. 240.

3. Danger! Using At -Home or Foreign-Based Operators for Employment Verifications and Background Checks

Some employers make the mistake of believing that all background screening is done the same way, so that selection ends up depending upon price. Unfortunately, employers who make the decision based upon price can find out the hard way that they did not get what they thought they were paying for. That is because there are ways for background firms to cut costs that leave employers vulnerable.

Here are two potential areas of concern for employers:

  • Using a screening firm that sends out confidential data to the homes of unsupervised home operators for employment verifications. Rather than using more expensive professionals in a controlled environment where there are higher levels of privacy protection, quality control, supervision and training, some firms cut corners by sending work to cheaper at-home workers. At-home workers typically work only as needed on a piecemeal basis, so a screening firm saves money. The at-home workers are unsupervised, and there are few real controls over who can see the confidential data, who is doing the work or if the work is being done properly according to standard procedures.
  • Equally troublesome is sending private and confidential data overseas, such as using foreign data centers or call centers to process data or to make domestic reference calls. Once data leaves the US shores, privacy protections become very problematic and quality control is also an issue.

Bottom line: An employer should seriously consider the implications of using a background-screening firm that utilizes “at-home” operators or foreign operators. An employer can ask its background firm to certify that all domestic work is done in the USA, and no domestic employment verification or data processing is done by people working at-home or outside of the USA.

In future issues, ESR will highlight areas that differentiate quality background screening from firms offering cheaper “knock-off” services.

4. ESR Announcements and Seminars

  • ESR announces the Safe Hiring Certification Training, an intensive 30 Hour online educational and professional development course designed for employers, human resource 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

More information is available at:

  • 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.

ESR will be participating in the following seminars across the United States.

January 20, 2006 Kennedy Information National Audio Conference on, “Background Checks and Recruiting — Avoiding Negligent Hiring.” (Details to be posted)

February 9, 2006 National Web conference “Avoid Negligent Hiring-Best Practices and Legal Compliance,” sponsored by the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA) 

March 17, 2006 Oakland, CA “Extreme Caution Advised: Dealing With Federal And State Laws Regulating Pre-Employment Screening And Safe Hiring,” Lorman Seminars 

March 21, 2006 Las Vegas, NV “International Pre-employment Background Screening – Dealing with the Practical and Legal Challenges.” 29th Annual SHRM Global Forum

March 30, 2006 San Diego, CA “Pre-employment Background Screening for HR and Staffing Professionals.” SHRM 37th Annual Employment Management Association Conference and Exposition (EMA)

June 27/28, 2006 Washington, D.C. “Avoid Negligent Hiring-Best Practices and Legal Compliance,” SHRM 58th Annual Conference & Exposition

Contact ESR for further details.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR)

1620 Grant Avenue, Suite 7

Novato, CA 94945


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