Two Michigan women claim they were frightened and terrorized after they responded to ads from a major department store to have their air ducts cleaned and a duct cleaner – a career criminal with a history of harassing women who somehow passed a background check – allegedly began stalking them after working in their homes, according to an investigative report from WXYZ-TV ABC Channel 7 Action News in Detroit, MI.
The 7 Action News Investigation reports one woman who called to have her air ducts cleaned after moving to Detroit with her son since both suffered from allergies began receiving inappropriate text messages the day after two servicemen had worked in her home. She called the police who traced the text messages to one of the serviceman’s cell phone, but he said the phone had been stolen and returned. Police also discovered someone had unlocked a window and left it open at the woman’s house. While the police report indicates they believe the serviceman sent the improper texts, no charges were filed.
According to courts records of a felony stalking case, 7 Action News also reports that another alleged stalking victim who called years ago to get her air ducts cleaned and who began dating the duct cleaner claims he started stalking her after she discovered his criminal history and tried to end their relationship. She kept going to police until he was charged with stalking.
The 7 Action News found that, according to court records, the suspected stalker had an extensive criminal record that included seven personal protection orders against him taken out by seven women over 11 years and six criminal convictions, misdemeanors and felonies going back to 1999. His latest conviction was for aggravated stalking in 2011.
Despite his lengthy criminal record, and even though had just been released from prison a few months earlier, 7 Action News reports that the suspected stalker passed a background check in December 2010 before being employed by the duct cleaning company, which was a local Independent franchise operation of a major department store and responsible for performing background checks on workers. Citing privacy laws, the background check company that prepared the report would not comment to 7 Action News on how the suspected stalker with a criminal past passed their background check.
This news article about a duct cleaner with the criminal past being allowed into homes raises the question if people who need in-house work performed may be unwittingly inviting criminals inside their houses and on their property due to incorrect or incomplete background checks.
According to Attorney Les Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a San Francisco-area background check company accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®), background checks may miss criminal records if employers rely on inexpensive and instant database searches with unreliable results that could give both employers and consumers a false sense of security.
“Background checks based solely upon databases are subject to both false negatives and false positives and they have substantial issues in terms of timeliness, completeness, and accuracy,” explains Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ a comprehensive guide to employment screening. “Because of the nature of databases, the appearance of a person’s name in a background check does not necessarily indicate that person is a criminal any more than the absence of a name shows that person has a clean record.”
Rosen says database searches may contain both “false negatives,” where there is no criminal match with the person being checked but that person is a criminal, and “false positives,” where there is a criminal match with the person in the background check but upon further research it is not the same person. Rosen adds that any positive match – called a “hit” – must be verified by reviewing the actual court records from a courthouse.
While background checks using database searches are useful as secondary tool, Rosen stresses that a professional background check should include county court level searches carried out by a professional accredited background check company or a licensed private investigator. For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call Toll Free 888.999.4474.
The article from WXYZ-TV 7 Action News is available at: http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/women-say-duct-cleaner-with-criminal-history-stalked-them-after-slipping-through-background-check.
Related Blog (Posted May 5, 2010): CAUSE Shows Background Checks Needed To Uncover Unsafe Service Employees Working In Homes
About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco, CA area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by ESR Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR streamlines the screening process and reduces administrative overhead though its proprietary technology solutions. ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®), a distinction held by less than two percent of all screening firms. This important recognition was achieved by successfully passing a third party audit demonstrating compliance with the NAPBS Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about ESR, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.
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 [email protected].