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Do Organizations Rely on Background Checks Too Much?


Background checks, preemployment screening, background investigations—by whatever name, it's the process of scouring criminal, academic, employment and other records to verify that potential hires are who they say they are and have the background, education and experience they claim.

A cornerstone of a sound security program, preemployment screening is used almost universally by employers; the Professional Background Screening Association indicates that 96.1 percent of employers perform some sort of preemployment background screening.

And most background checks in the United States run smoothly and effectively, in compliance with the U.S. federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, and with no complaint.

However, a worrying minority of cases show not only gaps in the system but also egregious examples of either abuse or poor oversight. It's also clear that background checks are not a failsafe or panacea, and should be only one key element of a personnel security program.

For more than 30 years, the authors have been analyzing cases in which lapses in background checks resulted in sometimes catastrophic loss or damage to people, businesses, assets and the U.S. government. In more than 60,000 cases over the last 20 years alone, U.S. security, intelligence, military and law enforcement personnel were charged with major felonies. But thousands of these individuals passed background investigations either by using someone else's name, ID and Social Security number, or by lying about degrees, work experience, finances, arrest records or citizenship status. FULL ARTICLE