How Well Do You Know Your CRA: USIS Employee Pleads Guilty

I start many of my mornings on Twitter. It’s my favorite news source. Mainly because I know what is in my feed: the perfect mixture of news, educational articles and celebrity gossip.

This morning as I scrolled through, it wasn’t George Clooney’s engagement or the Clippers basketball scandal that caught my eye but something much more tragic. Something we see too often lately.

The Headline read: 6 injured after shooting at FedEx center in Atlanta

Was it a disgruntled employee? Maybe an angry spouse? Or a random act? The details are still vague. What we do know is that for some reason a person left home this morning with the intention of hurting people and succeeded.

Our thoughts are going out to the staff and family members of the people involved in this situation. As a CRA it is our goal to help organizations create and maintain safe working environments. Not always but many of these situations are preventable with proper precautions; such as background screening in the hiring process.

Three Strikes and USIS is Out

This particular post is inspired by a company who was hired to help prevent disasters but ended up enabling them instead.

It was almost a year ago that Edward Snowden, a government employee, leaked classified documents and fled the country. He was vetted by the CRA (Consumer Reporting Agency) USIS. Know that background checks are not a ‘be all and end all’ solution. Some people may have a clean record just because they haven’t been caught yet. So it’s possible that Snowden slipped through the cracks and got lucky. This was strike one against USIS.

Strike two occurred when a man named Aaron Alexis killed 12 people at a Navy Yard in Washington DC. Again Alexis was vetted by the same company, USIS.

It was then that an investigation started into the vetting process. The investigation uncovered evidence that suggested USIS had been using a practice called dumping in order to speed up the screening process. Unfortunately, in this case, a faster process meant incomplete background checks and false results. Read more about the investigation in this post.

USIS had denied the allegations until last week when the Government received the news it was dreading. An employee from USIS pleaded guilty to ‘falsely claiming he had conducted background checks.’  While this man is facing jail time, the government now is repeating over $100,000 worth of background investigations.

That’s strike three and USIS is benched.

USIS isn’t totally out of the game yet – The contractor is refunding the money to the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) and an OPM representative said they are stilling using USIS for employee background checks.

What You Should Take away from this Case

How would you feel if your doctor drew your blood, charged you but never actually ran the test? This is essentially what happened to the OPM. When it comes to important decisions you can’t cut corners. Choosing a CRA is like choosing your doctor; you have to ask questions, be thorough and trust that they are going to do their job.

Tips to follow when choosing a CRA:

  • Do your homework: Vet the CRA before contracting it.
  • Be cautious: Does anything stand out to you? Investigate more. Ask questions. Review results.
  • Ask about turnaround time: Remember there is no such thing as instant results.
  • Do they offer comprehensive checks? For government positions we suggest the check include: Identity & Credit, MVR, Criminal Records, References & Credentialing and drug testing.

What You Should be Asking Your CRA

One person in the case has pleaded guilty and 19 others are being convicted of charges relating to work with the government. It is important to know the company that is vetting your employees. These questions will help determine if the CRA is capable of producing thorough and accurate results.

  • Is the research performed in-house or outsourced?
  • If outsourced – ask where?
  • Are the employees and contracted workers properly vetted?
  • How controlled is the environment?

Thursday I am going to continue with part two of this is post. We will look at the importance of choosing a CRA with a controlled research and verifications process.

Have any questions or comments about vetting employees or government screening solutions? We would love for you to share them in the comments below.

This entry was posted in Criminal Records, Driver’s Records, General, Identity & Credit, Industry Solutions, News 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.
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