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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a global background check provider – has released a complimentary whitepaper written by ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen entitled “21 Shortcuts and Traps that Can Lead to Inaccurate Criminal Records” that is a summary of ways background screening firms could potentially take shortcuts that may undermine the accuracy of criminal records data.  The whitepaper is at

Rosen – author of “The Safe Hiring Manual” – explains in the whitepaper: Unfortunately, because there are so many moving parts when searching criminal records, there are numerous ways a screening firm can cut corners.  A screening firm may appear to be doing a complete job and yet take shortcuts under the hood that may allow them to advertise faster turnaround times, or to lower their internal costs and increase profits. But the real question is whether employers and job applicants are well served.

Rosen explains that the “problem for decision makers is that it can very difficult to know if a background screening firm is taking shortcuts or not.” Unless an employer or Human Resources (HR) professional really understands how to take a look “under the hood,” it can be very difficult know if a screening firm is taking the right steps to obtain accurate and complete information. However, the whitepaper provides a summary of shortcuts that are not necessarily to the employer’s advantage, which include:

  • “National” criminal databases can be a source of potential mistakes such as “false negatives” when a person is reported as having no criminal record when they do, and “false positives” when a person is reported as having a criminal record when they do not.
  • “Instant searches” can be a problem since the words “instant” and “criminal checks” simply do not belong together in the same sentence so employers are well advised to avoid any background screening service that advertises itself as providing “instant” criminal records.
  • “Alias or AKA (Also Known As)” names can be a potential trap for employers if a screening firm ignores highly-related names and only runs the criminal record search based upon the provided name even if other logically valid alias names are known or developed as part of the screening.
  • Using “offshore” call centers or home based remote workers is an area of risk since “offshoring” Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of American consumers outside of the privacy protections of U.S. laws can arguably put job applicants at risk for offshore identity theft.
  • Reporting arrests or non-convictions can get employers and background screening firms sued if the reported records have been expunged or judicially set aside, or arrests have not resulting in convictions. Such records can be forbidden and “unreportable” under state law.

The whitepaper entitled “21 Shortcuts and Traps that Can Lead to Inaccurate Criminal Records” also concludes with ‘21 Suggested Questions for a Background Screening Provider’ that employers may want to ask their background screening providers in order to avoid receiving criminal record information that is incomplete, incorrect, or not actionable. The complimentary whitepaper from ESR is available at

Rosen is a noted background check expert who is a frequent speaker on the topic and has also written numerous articles and whitepapers about the subject of safe hiring. He has qualified and testified as an expert witness in court cases related to safe hiring issues. He also chaired the steering committee that founded the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®), the screening industry’s professional trade association, and served as first co-chair.

Rosen founded Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) in 1997 in the San Francisco, California area. ESR is accredited by the NAPBS and undergoes annual SSAE 18 SOC 2® audits to ensure the protection of the privacy, security, and confidentiality of consumer information used for background checks. ESR is the strategic choice for employers who need a trusted partner to manage their background screening programs. To learn more about ESR, please visit

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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