Background checks have been getting a bad rap lately.

First, an erroneous article misconstrues the effect Ban The Box is having on background checks and the screening industry in general.

Second, two of the nation’s largest screening providers get busted by a federal agency for committing major errors and costing applicants jobs.

Third, a politically charged op-ed attempts to discredit the accuracy of background checks conducted by Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs), and says FBI fingerprint checks should be the industry standard.

Fourth, President Obama’s new stance on Ban The Box at the federal level is a continuation of hiring trends that are exploding across the country. Although the article tries to state otherwise, there is NO benefit in having a box asking applicants to disclose a criminal history on your application. Why? Hiring a great screening company like Active Screening will always turn up relevant information that an employer can use LEGALLY without running afoul of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Banning the box is not the same as not allowing a background check. A good background check makes the box moot.

Fifth, people were understandably alarmed when word spread that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had fined General Information Services and its affiliate,, to pay a total of $13 million dollars to victims of inaccurate background reports. The Bureau reported that the agencies violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by not properly researching, matching and verifying results. That resulted in almost a whopping 70 percent of erroneous background reports being disputed and corrected.

That’s a terrible rate and it gives the screening industry a terrible reputation. HERE’S WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW. Not all screening agencies are the same and you want to work with an agency like Active Screening who has been nationally accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). We have multiple layers of procedures in place to ensure we produce very accurate reports for our clients. We processed more than 795,480 criminal checks in 2015. Out of those 795,480 processed, just over 112 were submitted for a recheck or dispute by the client or candidate. Out of those rechecks, less than 20 were actually attributed to an error on our part. That equates to a microscopic percentage error rate, or almost 100% accuracy rate. We produce exceptional reports for our clients.

Third, there is a major difference between a well-rounded background report and an FBI fingerprint check. Relying on the Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) information, as the article suggests more people should do, would turn into a bigger headache. The BCI information is only available through an FBI fingerprint check, but even the Department of Justice has admitted that 50% of FBI records in the database are arrest only! This means that an applicant who was wrongly arrested and later cleared of any wrongdoing would still show up in the BCI with a record!

That just doesn’t make any sense to us.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of working with a CRA vs. using fingerprints – and why you should ALWAYS choose to work with a CRA:

  • Screening industry is heavily regulated by federal and some state FCRA laws – FBI is not
  • Screening industry has A LOT of consumer protection built in – FBI does not
  • Candidates can dispute and get dispute resolved in 30 days or less – FBI puts it on the candidate who may never get dispute resolved or not in a timely manner
  • Expunged records at the court level may still show up on FBI check
  • We go to the source for criminal records – 50% of FBI records in the database are arrest only – this per the Department of Justice
  • Currently the US Census Bureau is in hot water with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) because they used the FBI database to screen and disqualified tens of thousands of candidates based on arrest which resulted from an incomplete search from the database.
  • Despite offering more in-depth and accurate information, CRAs have fast turn-around times.

We want to hear from you! What other questions or concerns do you have about background checks or the screening industry? We’d love to help set the record straight. Leave a comment below or Tweet us here!

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