In today’s interconnected world, ensuring the safety and integrity of organizations and communities is paramount. Background screening plays a crucial role in this process, especially when it comes to activities like employee screening, tenant screening, franchisee screening, membership screening, and volunteer screening. These checks provide essential insights into an individual’s background, helping organizations make informed decisions and create safer environments.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), background screening companies are required to perform county criminal records searches to report any criminal records accurately. This requirement underscores the FCRA’s emphasis on maximum possible accuracy, necessitating checks at the county courthouse level—the primary source of criminal records.

However, a significant challenge plaguing the background screening industry is the increasing prevalence of county courthouses redacting dates of birth (DOB) from criminal records at their public access terminals. This results in the necessity to perform physical searches of court records, which generally results in extended delays. Further, with social security numbers typically absent from these records, the DOB serves as a crucial data point for accurately identifying individuals. The absence of this information complicates the verification process, leading sometimes to lengthy turnaround times in background checks.

To navigate these delays effectively, organizations may consider adopting provisional acceptance strategies for candidates awaiting county criminal records searches. This approach allows organizations to proceed with other components of the background check—such as other criminal searches which are complete, and/or credit reports, employment history and education verification—while awaiting the completion of any pending county criminal searches. By doing so, organizations can expedite the hiring or onboarding process while mitigating compromising on due diligence.

Moreover, organizations can bolster their risk mitigation efforts by implementing Continuous Criminal Monitoring (CCM). CCM provides real-time alerts about any new criminal convictions associated with individuals post-hire or post-acceptance of their non-employment position (i.e., tenant, franchisee, member, etc.), enabling organizations to proactively address potential risks and safeguard their interests.

In addition to provisional acceptances and CCM, organizations can seek written certifications from candidates regarding their criminal history. This proactive measure requires candidates to affirm their lack of criminal convictions, thereby reducing the likelihood of discrepancies or misrepresentations in the background check process. Furthermore, organizations can stipulate in the certification agreement that any falsification of information would result in the revocation of acceptance and forfeiture of deposits or payments made by the candidate.

Selecting a reliable background screening company that is also a reputable consumer reporting agency (CRA) to perform background checks is paramount in ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the screening process. Reputable CRAs adhere to industry best practices and compliance standards, providing organizations with confidence in the integrity of their background screening services.

While county criminal records search delays present challenges in the background screening process, organizations can leverage various strategies to overcome these obstacles effectively. By adopting provisional acceptance approaches, implementing Continuous Criminal Monitoring, and obtaining written certifications from candidates, organizations can streamline their screening processes while maintaining the highest standards of accuracy and compliance. Ultimately, these efforts contribute to creating safer and more secure environments for all stakeholders involved.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi, L.P.I., President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening

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