Are Background Checks Foolproof?
Short answer is no, background checks are not foolproof, and there are various reasons why they are not.
Identity theft can happen almost anywhere.
There was a manufacturing company that I know of that conducted criminal history checks and social security traces on all its employees after hiring them permanently from a temp to hire agency. One particular employee who had been on the job several weeks was hired permanently and a background check was conducted. The social security trace indicated that the employee had a previous residence in a western state, leading to uncovering several serious charges and convictions. In his current state of residence, the check uncovered an open warrant from the previous state.
After some negotiations with the employer, the state investigative agency came to the workplace and took the employee into custody for extradition to his previous state of residence. Once the individual was fingerprinted, it was determined that he was not the one that the warrant had been issued for. It turns out that he was an illegal immigrant and had purchased the identification, a driver’s license and a social security card from a “broker”, who provided such things.
The plant manager told me that he had shown up several weeks later with new ID, but was not hired in spite of being an excellent worker.
The company since has required all its staffing companies to run criminal checks on all contract workers sent to their location.
A company can help ensure that it is getting accurate results in its background checks by providing its background company with accurate identifying information, checking identification carefully, and asking questions of the applicant if any red flags appear.
Remember the best policy is to conduct a criminal check in every jurisdiction where the applicant has lived, worked, or attended school. Many metropolitan areas include several counties which should also be checked.
Even then, it is possible to miss some information, such as a shoplifting charge that occurred while on vacation.
But just because something might be missed is no reason not to conduct the background check. Most criminal history will be uncovered through comprehensive background checks.
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