This newsletter is sent to clients of Employment Screening Resources (ESR) as well as employers, Human Resources and Security professionals, and law firms who have requested information on pre-employment screening, safe hiring, the FCRA and legal compliance. Please note that ESR’s statements about any legal matters are not given or intended as legal advice but only general industry information. For specific legal advice, employers should contact their attorney. If this was sent in error, you can be removed from this mailing by simply using the “remove” feature at the end of the newsletter and you will not receive any future newsletters.

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July 2007 Vol. 7, No. 7

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Newsletter and Legal Update

1. Genuine “Fake” Diplomas on the Rise

2. The Top Five Reasons NOT to Use Home-Based Operators to Perform Employment and Education Verifications

3. Free Interview Generator Tool Available to Employers

4. ESR Speaking Schedule and Educational Opportunities

1. Genuine “Fake” Diplomas on the Rise

Getting a college diploma apparently no longer requires years of hard work, taking tests, paying tuition or even reading a book. Why bother going through the formalities when all a person needs is a credit card and a web browser in order to buy an authentic looking diploma that mimics real colleges, universities and even high schools across the U.S.? Go to any search engine and run keywords such as “Fake Diploma” and anyone can instantly “graduate” from nearly any school in America with a very handsome and authentic looking diploma suitable for hanging.

One such website advertises that it creates “very realistic diplomas/transcripts. These diplomas/ transcripts are extremely high quality printed on official parchment quality paper. You can show your employer and they will never doubt that you indeed attended college. You will not find better quality anywhere!!!”

Some of these sites “officially” caution that the diplomas and transcripts are intended for “Novelty and Entertainment Use Only.” However, the fake documents you receive do not have a disclaimer written any place on them.

With statistics showing that resume fraud is a significant issue, employers must be very cautious about accepting a physical diploma as proof of a degree. When presented with a physical diploma or transcripts, employers should fax a copy to the school to confirm its authenticity. Most background firms can tell stories of faxing copies of degrees, supplied by the applicant, to high schools and colleges only to be told the degree is a fake.

These fakes have not entirely escaped official attention. In Illinois, the legislature passed a law in 2004 aimed at addressing educational fraud. It is now a Class A Misdemeanor to knowingly manufacture or produce for profit or for sale a false academic degree, unless the degree explicitly states “for novelty purposes only.”

2. The Top Five Reasons NOT to Use Home-Based Operators to Perform Employment and Education Verifications

Employers concerned about the privacy and security of an applicant’s personal and identifiable information (PII), should take steps to ensure that a background screening firm is protecting that information appropriately during the screening process. One area where there is a risk is if a background firm utilizes home-based operators to perform the verifications. Here are some potential issues when home-based operators are given personal data in order to call schools and employers:

  1. Privacy: In order to accomplish the work, the home operator is usually given the applicant’s date of birth and social security number. Since the operators are at home and beyond any supervision, a screening firm has very little control over what happens to the data. Not only is there the potential for direct miss-use or theft of the data, but a screening firm has no idea who is going in or out of the operator’s home, what information is being left laying around on a kitchen table or dorm room, what is being left on the computer, how passwords are protected, who has access to the operators computer or a host of other risk factors.
  2. Security: There are security issues with at home operators. For example, the screening firm does not know who is accessing the computer system, making the calls, entering data or if calls are even being made. A certain amount of auditing may reveal some abuse eventually, but not until the damage is done.
  3. Training: Another vital issue is standardized training across all operators. With at-home workers, training is extremely difficult to conduct. In addition, since operators are working in isolation at home, the opportunity to catch and correct errors timely is lost. Nor can at home operators have the opportunity to learn from each other and develop additional expertise by interacting with co-workers.
  4. Supervision and Quality Control: With at-home operators, it is difficult to implement quality control. There is nothing to prevent an at-home operator from just closing the orders or even “faking” data just to get a complete. Since the background firm does not know how much time the at-home operator spent on the phone, there is no way to run routine cross-checks or productivity reports that helps to assure quality control.
  5. Real-time Status Updates: In a typical home worker situation, the worker is given a list of verifications to perform, and certain work rules. However, until the verification is complete, the Consumer Reporting Agency ((CRA), another way of saying “background firm” as defined by the Federal Trade Commission) does not have status, nor can the CRA tell exactly who was called, when the call was made and the current status.

Other then trying to save money, there is no inherent reason that such verifications need to be outsourced to home based operators. If the at-home workers are misclassified as independent contractors when in fact they should be paid as employees, the matter gets even more complicated. Given the potential risks invoked, an employer may want to verify exactly how their verifications are being performed.

3. Free Interview Generator Tool Available to Employers

Employers preparing for job interviews can utilize a free Interview Generator tool created by ESR. It is available at

The Interview Generator helps employers to create customized question sets that can be printed out and used during an interview. An employer can also create sets of questions for each position, choosing from general sample questions listed or generating their own questions. Each interview set can be saved in WORD and can be customized by each employer.

The structured interview form can be broken into six separate sections, including: general questions about the applicant, questions about the particular job, behavior and attitude questions, employment history, security questions and follow-up questions.

Using a “structured interview” helps employers ask permissible questions in a consistent fashion for all applicants for a particular position. An employer should only choose those questions that are valid predictors of job performance for a particular position.

The Interview Generator also allows employers to select the five critical interview questions that ESR recommends be asked at every interview. These questions focus in on the essential safe hiring issues, including criminal records, employment history and credentials and unexplained employment gaps.


4. ESR Speaking Schedule and Educational Opportunities

ESR is pleased to announce new services that are available to US employers:

  1. Form I-9 Compliance ESR is qualified to act as an employer’s Designated Agent to perform the verification of employment eligibility checks to determine that individual’s employment eligibility through databases administered by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration. See:
  2. In-depth Searches and Litigation Support ESR has introduced a new service, an “Integrity Check,” for businesses that need in-depth research on partners, key executives, prospective members of a Board of Directors, and other highly sensitive positions, It is also ideal for law firms for litigation preparation. See:
  3. Vendor Checks ESR has introduced a new program to allow businesses to check their vendors. Businesses who would never allow an employee onsite without due diligence, can not ensure that the same due diligence is applied to vendors, independent contractors or temporary employees. For more information, contact Jared Callahan at [email protected] or at 415-898-0044, ext. 240.

See 2007 Speaking Schedule Below:

ESR announces that the Safe Hiring Certification Training is now available in four separate mini-courses, in addition to the intensive 30 Hour course. The smaller course allows participants to focus in on just those areas of immediate interest and need. This is the first and only online educational and professional development course designed for employers, human resources 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 is pleased to participate in the following seminars across the United States

ESR 2007 Schedule

September 5-7 Keystone, CO “Pre-employment Screening: Best Practices and Legal Compliance.” Colorado State SHRM Conference

September 17/18 Oakland, CA “Using Online Social Networking Sites to Screen Applicants” Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA) Annual Conference.

September 20, 2007 National Teleseminar” Screening Applicants Using Social Networking Sites: Legal or Liability?” Lorman Seminars.

September 24, 2007 Las Vegas, NV “Negligent Hiring Mock Trial–Security in the Hot Seat” ASIS International 53rd Annual Seminar and Exhibits

October 17/18, 2007 Long Beach, CA “Negligent Hiring Mock Trial: HR in Court.” and “Caution–Using Google, MySpace or Facebook for Hiring.” 50th Annual PIHRA Conference

November 9/10, 2007 — “Negligent Hiring Mock Trial– College and University HR in the Hot Seat.” National HR Conference for College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), Baltimore, MD

November 12, 2007 Tampa, FL Keynote address at the Annual Pre-Employment Screeners Conference sponsored by the Background Investigator( Intended for background firms and record retrievers ) “The Pre-employed Screening Industry–The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

December 6-7, 2007 Bangalore, India “Background Screening for US Firms with Operations in India and the Pacific Rim. Keynote Address at the International Pre-employment Screening Conference, The Taj West End Hotel, (details to follow)

Contact ESR for further details.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Rated Top Background Screening Firm in First Independent Industry Study. See the Press Release

Please feel free to contact Jared Callahan at ESR at 415-898-0044 or [email protected] if you have any questions or comments about the matters in this newsletter. Please note that ESR’s statements about any legal matters are not given or intended as legal advice.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR)

1620 Grant Avenue, Suite 7

Novato, CA 94945


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