Identity Theft Week: Keepin’ It Domestic (Background Screening, That Is…)

What’s your PII?

We’re not talking about a delectable dish of warm, sugary fruit bursting from the edges of a buttery crust with a dollop of pure vanilla bean ice cream dissolving from the pie’s warmth (but seriously, wouldn’t a piece of blueberry be divine right about now?). No, what we’re going for here is your personally identifiable information, or PII, for short.

Your PII is like your thumbprint, entirely your own, irreplaceable, and crucial to your identity. The problem is, your PII isn’t comprised of a fragile and unique map of minuscule ridges on your fingertips. It is, however, readily available at the fingertips of hungry identity thieves ready to devour your history. You see, your PII is this:

  • Full name
  • Birthday and birthplace
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Vehicle registration plate number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Credit card number
  • National identification number

This information is the building blocks to any background check. Once it heads off shore, so does any US privacy and security laws. That’s why it’s imperative that your firm use a background screening company who has pledged to keep all data in-house, or at least on US soil.

Figuring out if this is the case may not be as easy as you think. Few companies want to own up to sending your applicants’ PII to India or Pakistan or Mexico because there is a stigma against off shoring. Not only is it difficult to keep track of the information once its on the digital highway, off shoring costs hundreds of Americans jobs at home grown small businesses every year.

Before we explain HOW you can figure out if your screening company is keeping things in house, we need to tell you WHY some screening companies ship info overseas.

They feel they can offer lower rates. We live in a competitive marketplace and price is often the deciding factor in choosing service providers. Off-shoring can be a way to slash overhead and undercut competitors’ prices. As this Credit Reporting Agency (otherwise known as a screening service, like Active Screening) writes in this blog post: “The fact is, when employers focus more on price than on quality, it’s tempting for screening providers to look offshore.”

They’ve grown too quickly. It’s a great thing when independent, American businesses succeed. We want that. You want that. What we don’t want is rapid expansion without forethought to accommodating product quality. When this happens, your data is off shored because it’s cheaper than halting growth to evaluate goals and procedures. As soon as that profit margin starts to build, it’s hard to step away from $$ signs even if your clients privacy is at stake. 

They’re lax on law. Compliance laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) take time to understand and knowledge to implement in practice. If a screening agency simply doesn’t care about these laws, it may be apt to send your PII overseas to a country that doesn’t have privacy or data laws, or even standards about such things. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that your PII is worth MONEY in these countries so if your screening agency is cheap enough to send your data to India, chances are they aren’t paying that person very much to verify your info, much less keep it off the black market.

So, what’s the best way to find out if your screening agency is shipping data off shore?

Ask. A screening firm is under no obligation to tell you if they are, but that would be such bad business we can’t imagine anyone actually doing that. There is further protection if you live in California. This bill asserts that background check companies doing business in the state disclose if a person’s PII will be sent outside the USA and it requires employers to place the privacy policy of the screening agency on the background check authorization form.

Look for the CRA seal. Roughly 200 Credit Reporting Agencies (Active Screening among them) have signed a “no off shoring” pledge and have promised to create and follow policies to keep all private data on American soil. These firms are a part of ConcernedCRAs.com, which is an advocacy partnership among quality background screening services to operate under the highest standards.

What other tips do you have for vetting your screening service? We’d love to hear them. In the meantime, we’ll be stuffing our face with pie.

 

This entry was posted in Background Screening, General, Identity & Credit, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia’s clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter – give her a shout @pattycfreelance.

 
        
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.