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The Importance of Background Checks

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A company invests a lot when it chooses a candidate for an executive position. They must trust stranger with the future of their company. And because so much is on the line, it is not uncommon for candidates to be less than forthright about their pasts. While it is true that many job seekers do embellish little things on their resumes or in interviews, once in a while embellishment makes the leap to outright lying. An unqualified candidate may be untruthful about their past work experience or even their education. That is why many companies choose to do background checks on potential employees.

Depending on the kind of money a company wants to spend, a background check can reveal every place a job candidate has ever lived, every company they have ever work for as well as their credit and financial history. With a competent investigator at the helm, a background check can be far more reliable than a lie detector test. It can tell you with near certainty what kind of person you are considering hiring and if they embellished or lied on any of the pertinent questions you asked them.

The investigators who do the digging are often private investigators or former government agents who have experience with that kind of work. They are usually hired on a freelance basis and are paid consulting fees. But as we mentioned, an extensive search is not cheap. It takes a lot of research as well as subscriptions to a number of civil, criminal and demographic databases.

On the rare occasion that a background check fails to uncover a pertinent piece of information, a company may even choose to have an investigator personally interrogate a candidate. While this may sound a bit intrusive, an experienced interviewer can often get to the bottom of things with a simple game of twenty questions.

What are companies worried about?

In the end, most companies that decide to hire investigators to do background checks are usually only really worried about three things: risk of fraud, white-collar crime, or sexual harassment. Because these offenses are difficult to discover unless the person was caught and charged with a crime, it is important to have a trained professional do some sniffing around. After all, a bad investment in the wrong person can end up costing the company millions, or more.

Basic Background Checks

All background checks begin with a simple identity check. This can be done without the aid of an investigator. The company need to only run your social security number, driver's license number, date of birth and your name to ensure that you are who you say you are. Since identity theft is a growing crime this is an essential first step to knowing exactly who you are dealing with.

Companies also often choose to search your criminal and credit histories and even your driving records. These checks must be made by a professional investigator and they will cost the company an average of a hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars. For that fee a company will have the candidate's identity confirmed and will receive basic background information. If the company wishes to dig still deeper, they will have to hire a private investigator, which can be quite costly since they are often paid by the hour.

It is important to note that the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act prevents companies from doing any sort of background check without obtaining written approval from the job candidate.
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