Setting the Record Straight on Background Checks

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!

This entry was posted in Background Screening, Criminal Records, General, Industry Solutions, News, References & Credentialing 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.