County Criminal Searches: Researcher v. Clerk
Criminal record searches are an essential piece in the background screening process to help ensure safe workplaces. Credential Check Corporation provides county criminal searches in every county in the United States, and many other criminal searches internationally. What sets us apart from our competitors is that we choose to operate in the most compliant fashion, whereby we physically send researchers to the court to pull the most accurate and current data available, versus using online databases.
In 69% of the counties in the United States, our researchers visit the central criminal court(s) in each county, and perform a search through the predominantly used index or public access terminal. However, a small percentage of courts will not allow our researchers to directly access the records, and instead must work through a court clerk in what is known as a clerk-assisted search. Approximately 3.5% of counties restrict the criminal searches to the clerk, while the remaining 27% use a combination of the researcher and clerk depending on the type and age of record.
With clerk-assisted searches, the turnaround time is unpredictable and often depends heavily on the administrative load of that particular court. Certain counties return clerk-assisted searches in 5 business days, while others range up to 12 weeks. We are confident though that the quality and compliance of physical county criminal searches outweighs the sometimes-inconvenient reality of clerk-assisted searches.
Please contact Credential Check Corporation to discuss county criminal searches and other service offerings.
On April 26th, 2016 at 2:00pm EST, join Credential Check and Pam Devata of Seyfarth, Shaw LLP. Gather insight on:
- Litigation Trends
- Disclosure and Authorization Pitfalls
- Adverse Action Do’s and Don’ts
- Utilizing Credit Checks
- EEOC Guidance
Ms. Devata is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. She specializes in all aspects of employment defense including counseling, training, and litigation. Ms. Devata has a special emphasis on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and related state laws effecting background screening.
To Register now click HERE:
“Ban the Box” legislation is putting a halt on employers asking about criminal history during specific parts of the hiring process. Be sure you know when it is legal to ask about criminal records. See the latest Ban the Box update below and stay tuned to our HR Solutions Blog for more!
An Update to Recent Ban the Box Legislation:
Philadelphia: Previously, Philadelphia’s ordinance applied to employers with 10+ employees, and required the employer to postpone any discussion or inquiry of criminal records until after the first interview. The new amendment effective March 14, 2016 will require most employers with at least one employee in Philadelphia to, among other things, postpone any discussion or inquiry of criminal records until after a conditional offer of employment is extended.
Related Cases and Violations:
New York: Attorney General Schneiderman announced settlements with two major national retailers, Big Lots Stores and Marshalls, to “Ban the Box” on initial employment applications at their Buffalo stores. “The settlement will ensure that both companies comply with the local Buffalo law that prohibits employers from inquiring into criminal history on initial employment applications. In addition to satisfying the requirements of the local ordinance, both companies have taken the additional step of removing such inquiries from applications to any store in New York State.”
States to Watch:
Please contact Credential Check Corporation to discuss the impact on your company.
Now that the holiday shopping season has reached its peak, (unless you’re a guy like me who doesn’t even think to shop until the 23rd/24th) companies have been scrambling to hire talent to ensure staffing levels are ready for all the hustle and bustle.
This can create a world of problems for hiring managers and HR teams across the board. First of all, try training a new employee during the holiday season in the retail world. Talk about a high pressure environment where not only the shoppers are in a hurry but so are fellow team members. This compressed timeframe is just one of the many items that can increase the blood pressure of even the most experienced HR Pro. Think about this from a corporate standpoint, companies trying to meet that hiring demand often skip steps in their standard process and thus open the door to liability as well. Many industries have peak hiring seasons and the lessons from retail apply to everyone.
Below I have included a few tried and true tips from the best in the world of retail:
- Don’t abandon your standard practices: This is the “golden rule”. When that sense of urgency is at its peak, companies often abandon their everyday procedures such as background screening and reference checking. This is something we see time and time again, and it can really put your company in hot water. Background checks should only take a day or two and it is worth the wait compared to employing someone that could increase risk and liability.
- Look into previous employees: I’m not saying call Johnny who was fired for shoplifting slippers last year. I’m talking about the college kids that worked over the summer and will be home around the holidays. This is a great idea for most companies as it provides them with another team member that already has been trained and can operate well under the given circumstances.
- Start the process early: I would love to hear everyone say “Ryan, this blog isn’t relevant because everyone starts the seasonal hiring process in September” sorry this is not the case. Seriously though, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to look ahead. Get those jobs posted well in advance and begin your interviewing process early on, this will not only reduce your own stress level but will pay dividends.
I am sure a lot of this information I shared today is somewhat common thought, but there are those times when companies are looking for assistance and this is for them.
For more information on holiday hiring and how we can help during your time of need, contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or email@example.com
As humans we seem to be driven by automation but at some level human interaction provides critical value. An audit of 200 background check profiles comparing two of the major automation supplier services “bots: as they are called in the industry” versus court researchers for County Criminal Records yielded interesting results. The results revealed that the data on these “bot” County Criminal Searches can be missing records, have incomplete or outdated data and can be missing dispositions.
There are numerous ways that your background screening vendor can use human assessment and interaction to reduce your risk:
* Utilize nationwide court researcher’s physically pulling court records to get data direct from the source of record, the County Court.
* Use a Service Alert Process: A social security trace is utilized to uncover alias names and determine counties to run searches so that the client does not have to manually perform the selections. This ensures that counties are selected consistently and that unnecessary counties are not run thereby minimizing cost and improving accuracy.
* Use an Order Review Process: Each order on individual profiles are reviewed and flagged based upon a standard Risk Matrix. Any data that is known to be not legal to utilize in a hiring decision is removed from the result to reduce risk. National Criminal Index Plus and County Criminal Searches are evaluated to ensure that the data matches the candidate’s identifiers. Education and Employment Verifications are reviewed for clarity and consistency.
* Conduct Profile Reviews: Used on the entire profile (background check report) to identify and resolve any common issues with data entry including typos in the name, social security number, and driver’s license number.
At times it takes reasoning human beings to be able to protect your business (candidates, employees and clients). Please call me at 888-689-2000 or email me at Kenneth.Lang@CredentialCheck.com if you would like to discuss any of these capabilities.
In the wake of the Louisiana shooting, background checks and gun control have come to the forefront. Under the current federal law, gun dealers are required to perform background checks through the FBI’s instant criminal background check system database, or NICS.
So what’s the issue? Why are the individuals who are committing these heinous crimes able to legally purchase a gun? The answer simply put, is that certain states have elected to not provide information related to a persons’ mental health to the federal database. When looking at the data the numbers are frightening, after a report showed Louisiana as one of the worst states to voluntarily comply with only 4 mental health records reported as of November 2013. Following the report they have stepped up efforts reporting 908 records as of December 2014. To put this in perspective for you, Delaware implemented its version of the law in 2012 and nearly 20,000 records were filed in the state, which has less than 1 million people compared to Louisiana’s 4.65 million.
Why is all of this important and how does it apply to HR, Ryan? The correlation between screening practices for gun control and employment is that database sources of information are only as good as the sources and the information provided to the database. Companies around the world advertise instant background checks, where do you think this information is coming from? If it’s instant that means it’s on hand and stored information. What happens if in the location your candidate committed a crime they don’t report to a database and the only way to gather this information is actually a hand-pulled court house record that requires a court researcher? That information isn’t going to be available in the database and you will never see it.
We aren’t looking to scare anyone, we are simply looking to educate. We partner with several suppliers that provide fantastic databases that include national coverage, are they the “silver bullet?” Absolutely not, but it’s a great supplemental search that can increase your coverage area and provide information rapidly. If you’re performing these types of searches today, we recommend you contact your provider and ask for a source list of where all the information originates and see if it’s accomplishing everything you had hoped.
For more information on database searches and other background screening topics, please contact CredentialCheck at 888-689-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Last night Michigan SHRM hosted over 100 attendees at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, Nevada to celebrate the Annual HR Conference and bring together all the chapters in Michigan for networking and a true red carpet experience.
Credential Check, Delta Dental, HR Impact and Kestly Development sponsored the event which included a strolling buffet with Prime Rib, Lettuce Wraps and the crowd favorite chocolate fountain. The unique location for the event gave attendees the opportunity to ride coasters on top of the Stratosphere where not only could they get a beautiful view of the Vegas lights but also get the adrenalin pumping!
Thanks again to the sponsors as it was truly an event that I will never forget and I am already looking forward to next year’s conference!
For more information about SHRM or Credential Check contact us at 888-689-2000 or Sales@credentialcheck.com
CredentialCheck® offers many solutions to maximize efficiencies. Customized Risk Matrices are available to our clients to expedite the background check review process. CredentialCheck® will work with your HR team to determine what items should remain flagged for additional review on completed background checks. This can include motor vehicle reports, criminal records, and employment and education verifications among other services. CredentialCheck®’s compliance team would review each individual order within the background check, and compare it to the Risk Matrix to determine if the flag should remain, or if it should be removed based on your customized criteria. While this does not replace individualized review of all background checks, a custom Risk Matrix can improve efficiencies within your organization.
Interested in this service? Please call CredentialCheck® at (888)689-2000 and tell our team that you’d like more information on building a Custom Risk Matrix!
In a recent news article, Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth read a troublesome report on recent security blunders and lapses at the long-troubled agency.
The recent blunders include inadequate baggage screening, hiring of convicted criminals, questionable spending, narcotics smuggling and human trafficking by TSA employees. During the hearing last week after Jer Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security reassigned the acting administrator of the TSA in the wake of reports that auditors from Roth’s office had successfully slipped mock explosives and weapons past TSA checkpoints 67 out of 70 times.
The latest case, Inspector General Roth said, is investigators had found the names of 73 airport workers “with possible terrorism-related information” in a classified federal database that the TSA could not normally access. Roth testified “TSA acknowledged that these individuals were cleared for access to secure airport areas despite representing a potential security threat.”
The discovery of this information was after Roth requested over 900,000 active aviation workers be checked again the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE. This database contains confirmed and unconfirmed information about people with potential terrorist links.
Following the search 73 matches of people cleared for access to secure areas with possible relations to terrorist ties. Typically those people who are hired by the airlines and airport vendors are checked against a more narrow and unclassified database that is maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center.
General Roth also repeatedly criticized the TSA’s use of PreCheck, which allows for expedited screening of vetted passengers, He said the TSA allows expedited screening of nearly half the flying population, often by randomly pulling people out of line. In one case, he said “a former member of a domestic terrorist group” was granted expedited screening even though the traveler was “sufficiently notorious” that a TSA screening recognized him. The screener “notified his supervisor, who directed him to take no further action and allow the traveler to proceed through the PreCheck lane”.
For more information on this topic or questions regarding background checks, contact CredentialCheck at 888-689-2000 or email@example.com
The state of Connecticut recently proposed a bill that has parents and taxpayers alike scratching their heads. The bill is based around creating a safer school environment by screening employees to ensure they are not on the sex-offender registry or other government watch lists. On the surface, this sounds like a great idea and quite the shocker that they weren’t already screening the folks that will be coming in contact with kids on a regular basis.
The parameters of when the background checks need to be executed is the shocking part. Within the proposed legislation it outlines that the employees must undergo the criminal background check within 5 days of starting employment with the school board. This is considered a vast improvement when compared to today’s guidelines which require the check to be completed within 30 days following the employees start date.
Looking at this as a provider of background checks, I have a hard time understanding the timeline in which the state is recommending these searches be performed. Let’s think about this, you are willing to hire an employee allow them to work for 5 or 30 days depending on whether the bill passes and then that finalizes your hiring decision? When looking at best practices for hiring, allowing a candidate to begin work, not knowing if they meet the requirements is a waste of money and also puts those around this individual at risk. By performing the background check as the last step in the hiring process, before allowing the candidate to begin work you’re accomplishing a few key items:
1. It protects your current employees/customers
2. It’s financially sound
This provides companies the opportunity that if this candidate does not meet the qualifications necessary for the position to go back to the talent pool. This eliminates the cost of additional resources such as training, orientation and all of the other things HR Professionals manage when a new employee comes onboard.
For more information on how and when to utilize pre-employment background checks, contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or Sales@credentialcheck.com
Our Director of Compliance, Megan Consolo shared with me recently some questions on compliance that have come up from clients. As a Consumer Reporting Agency governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we take these questions very seriously. We thought we would share them with you today:
1) Can you run a background check on yourself to see what comes up?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act: § 604 Credential Check wouldn’t have permissible purpose to run this background check. (Our only permissible purposes are Employment and Tenancy.)
2) From a candidate: Incorrect information was reported on my background check, and you fixed it after my dispute. However, I want to know who reported the incorrect information to you, will you provide that to me?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act: § 609 certain items must be disclosed to a candidate upon request such as: Information on file; sources; report recipients.
3) I want to run a background check on someone who applied, but I don’t have a release form because we’re not going to hire them. I just want to look into the crime they disclosed on their application.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act: § 606 there are required disclosures that must be made to consumers prior to obtaining investigative consumer reports on them.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act: § 604 Credential Check wouldn’t have permissible purpose.
I would be happy to discuss these and any other compliance questions with you. Feel free to reach out, simply dial 248-526-5205 or email me at
The phrase “you are only as good as the records you keep”, no longer only pertains to your taxes. This is what some organizations are discovering when reviewing their current screening practices. A recent review done by the state of Ohio has proved that their statewide criminal database is nothing more than “cobbled data” that is “running on borrowed time”.
From local law enforcement to day-care centers looking to avoid hiring individuals with criminal histories the challenge is real. This system doesn’t always reveal the truth about the people they are dealing with. A study of thousands of intertwined criminal-conviction and fingerprint records with processing errors have backed up the system, thus keeping the real pertinent data from being discoverable by those who need it most.
In 2014 alone the state of OH had to inform employers of 195 instances in which they provided a clear record for an individual for employment purposes, to then later return to the employer with the unfortunate news that a mistake had been made and the individual did have a criminal history.
Here at Credential Check Corporation, we get asked regularly which source our clients routinely use as a best practice in regards to criminal records. Obviously there are benefits to utilizing the state repositories to cast a wider net and some states have better data than others; however, they shouldn’t be your only source. Over the 30 years we have been in business, we have seen a best practice evolve among our clients of utilizing county level searches along with statewide database searches to ensure that you retrieve the most accurate information possible.
For more information on the different levels of criminal searches and what model best fits your organization, please contact Credential Check Corporation at 888-689-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For our Michigan friends: Do you want to tap into some interesting insights on Background Screening, Drug Testing and Compliance and not get “sold” on a new service? Visit with Ken, Ryan and Carly at Booth B16. We never get tired of sharing knowledge but more than sharing, we love to listen. Stop by and say hi! Who knows, you may even win a Coach bag!
Click here to view the agenda for the conference: Agenda
For more information on this event or to learn more about CredentialCheck®, please contact our team at 888-689-2000 or email@example.com
Credential Check will be attending the NAPBS Mid-Year Legislative Conference in Washington DC from April 12 through the April 14th. This conference focuses on regulation, legislation, education and compliance related to the background screening industry.
NAPBS was formed by background screening companies in 2003 to promote ethical business practices and compliance with state and federal laws by Consumer Reporting Agencies (background screening companies) as well as to foster awareness regarding consumer protection and privacy rights. What started out as a US based group has grown well beyond the borders of the United States now with established international chapters including Asia Pacific Rim Countries (APAC), Canada and Europe.
The conference offers significant regulatory and legislative insight which is not only important to Credential Check but is also of great value to our clients. One of the greatest challenges faced by human resources is the compliant screening of employees. In this time of varying municipal, county, state and federal laws, it is even more critical for companies to stay on top of new and emerging compliance requirements.
As a founding member of NAPBS, we fully embrace what NAPBS stands for and applaud the efforts of many who have strengthened our profession in countless ways by volunteering their time for the benefit of all companies. Many businesses are safer as a result of the services provided by professional screening firms and we are proud to be a part of this organization.
For more information about Credential Check or NAPBS, please feel free to contact us with any questions at (888) 689.2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.