Background checks for businesses are good for a lot of reasons like validating employees’ truthfulness, uncovering criminal or other shady pasts, and keeping your workplace safe.

But if you’re a referral based business or a personal service provider company (along the lines of Uber or or Tutor Bungalow), background checks are the ONLY tool that will simultaneously protect your reputation and your bottom line.

How? By ensuring the quality of the background checks that your independent contractors undergo, and taking a vested interest in the process of HOW those checks are completed, you are saving your business from a costly lawsuit.

The Case

A well known national in-home care provider website, is currently facing a swath of lawsuits stemming from their alleged shoddy background check practices. bills itself as the world’s largest Internet site for finding family aides like nannies, pet sitters, senior companions, and housekeepers. The company is being accused in three separate lawsuits of failing to uncover criminal histories of three different nannies.

Lawsuits brought forth by parents in Nebraska and Wisconsin say their babies died under the watch of a nanny. A Boston couple is suing after the family nanny stole more than $280,000 from their checking account. In all instances, the nannies passed background checks despite having criminal records that ran the gamut from drunken driving to larceny and fraud.

The Real Issue

One of the issues here is that got partly scammed by the background check provider with whom it contracts. Nobody is talking about that Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA). Unfortunately, it’s who is dealing with all the bad publicity and fallout.

You don’t have to suffer the same fate. Here’s our top three tips to help protect personal service provider businesses from costly background check lawsuits.

Pay for your independent contractors’ background checks

You know the old adage “You get what you pay for?” Well, this argument is a tough sell to customers if it turns out the background checks you’re making them buy don’t uncover the sketchy stuff in contractors’ backgrounds. Just because you offer a so-called “preliminary background check” at a cheap rate doesn’t exclude you from providing a best-in-class effort.

One way around this is to pay for a premiere (full-suite) background check of the independent contractors featured on your site up front. In other words, if an independent contractor (nanny, home health aide, tutor) wants to be featured on your site, you are in charge of vetting them and paying for it. That way, you maintain full control of the people representing your company’s name.

Before you balk at the cost this might assume, believe us, you will save yourself loads of time and money in the long run if you just vet your own premium candidates. Not to mention the energy you’d have to spend scrubbing your reputation if you ended up in a situation like

Contract with a CRA that’s been approved by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS)

There is a reason so many CRAs vie for this coveted accreditation – it means you’re simply among the best in your field.

Accreditation by NAPBS isn’t easy to come by. It has to be earned, proven, and maintained. In order to pass accreditation standards and procedures, Active Screening had to operate at an exceptional level in all avenues of its practices and showcase this ability to the Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC). Active Screening had to demonstrate compliance at every level of its operations through desk and on site audits by an independent auditor.

We were (and are!) exceptional at what we do before this accreditation, now we have the seal of approval to prove it to new and existing clients.

Choose a CRA that has priorities in line with your own company’s culture

Just as you interview potential clients or contractors, so should you interview potential CRAs. There is only so much you can glean from an agency’s website/blog (even one as awesome as ours!) so we encourage you to investigate from all angles. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Have they ever been cited for improper techniques? Do they vet their own employees? How experienced are their investigators? Are they accredited by NAPBS?

If the CRA continually stresses its lightning-quick turnaround time, alarm bells should be ringing in your head. There is no such thing as instant results. If they claim that, move on.

You also need to have a clear picture of their researching methods as this will often be the difference between shoddy checks and outstanding checks. Make sure the CRA does not offshore its background checks. Foreign countries are not held to the same federal regulations U.S. companies are when it comes to handling Personal Identifiable Information (PII). Read this to hear more about the dangers of offshoring.

Those are our tips! What are yours? We’d love to hear how you found your CRA. And, if you chose to work with us at Active Screening, we’d love for you to share why you chose us. Leave a comment below or Tweet about it here!

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