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Optimizing Background Screening: Best Practices for Employers

September 21, 2023

5 effective strategies to reduce costs, mitigate risks, and access the data you need

The Fair Credit Act (FCRA) requires employers and employment screening companies to follow established rules and regulations created to provide candidates a fair opportunity to successfully complete a pre-employment screening. States sometimes add additional rules and regulations. Employers should consider more than just the price of their background screening package when optimizing their employment screening program. High quality screening services that produce meaningful information and protect the employer and employee from unintended consequences should always be the goal.

Here are five strategies to ensure your screening program is on a firm foundation:

Strategy 1: Safeguard against potential litigation

Below are five questions you should ask yourself and your current background check provider to reduce potential risks and avoid significant legal costs:

  1. What jurisdictions are you sourcing your data from and do you know how to follow their specific requirements for data usage?
  2. Are your authorization forms and Adverse Action Letters FCRA compliant and up to date?
  3. Do you track the Pre-Adverse Action Letters and Adverse Action Letters you send as proof you notified the individual?
  4. Are you staying current with federal, state and local changes that impact your adverse action process, forms, or ability to consider certain information?
  5. What other tools should you be considering to verify your candidate’s identity, right to work, previous employment, education or criminal history?
Sources matter, not just because some sources produce more accurate data, but also because each source could come with its own compliance requirements. For example, many statewide criminal searches utilize the State Police as the source. While the state police is considered the record repository in most states, there's frequently a delay in reporting case details from county courts to the state police. Source accuracy issues also include case data on expungements or sealed records. The record is handled immediately at the county court level by removing the case from the courts computer system. However, there can be delays in providing records removal information to the state police. These lags in providing case information from county courts to the state police could cause hiring issues for an employer that only runs statewide searches. These employers risk missing cases cases or, just as damaging, may act on a case that's been expunged and shouldn't have been accessible in the first place. 
If you’re unsure whether sourcing data from a particular state requires you to modify your adverse action process, then partnering with a well-versed Consumer Reporting Agency like Vault, as well as high quality legal counsel is your best course of action to protect your company.

Strategy 2: Use virtual I-9 verification options

Save time and costs on sending a human out to verify a remote worker’s I-9 documentation by utilizing recently released virtual I-9 options. These methods require your company to be in good standing with E-Verify. Vault can take the I-9 task off your hands and provides the E-Verify good standing and compliance as part of your background screening program. Delegating E-Verify and I-9 duties to your Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) not only saves time for your HR team but also ensures you have the assistance of professionals who have expertise in verifications and the E-Verify system, lowering your likelihood of costly errors.

Strategy 3: Entrust federal database tasks to your CRA

For industries like trucking and aviation, databases such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Pilot Records Database (PRD) are crucial background screening requirements. Ongoing data updates are required for random screening and and other possible situations. If you use a comprehensive Third Party Administrator for your drug and alcohol testing that is also a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) conducting your background screens, this partner can take the database query and reporting burden off your shoulders. Because Vault works in these databases daily and our processes are set up to flow data automatically, we often complete this work at a lower overall cost than the cost of an internal resource.

Strategy 4: Consult a background screening expert on what data sources are required (and eliminate those that aren’t adding value)

Not all data sources are created equal and they certainly aren’t priced the same. For example, most states allow a statewide criminal record search to occur for a single fee at the state level, and then any hits can be validated at the local court level. However, a few states do not offer statewide searches without the collection of fingerprints from the candidate. In these instances, if your company requires a statewide search, you’re either paying additional costs for fingerprints or you’re paying for a search in every individual county within that state. Working with your CRA, you could instead design criteria for those states where only jurisdictions where the candidate lived or worked are searched. This reduces both costs and turn-around time delays.

Reach out to Vault to determine if you’re spending money on the wrong data sources. We’ll help you find the best screening package to meet your needs and your budget.


Strategy 5: Customize your background screening packages

You can customize background screening packages, delivering exactly the information you want about each candidate. If you’re consistently ordering numerous ala carte items in addition to your standard package, talk to our background screening services team about building a new package that includes your most common add-ons. Grouping your typical background screen order in pre-made packages streamlines ordering and can also save you money. For example, several of Vault’s transportation clients who recently updated their screening packages are expected to save roughly 10% this year compared to their previous strategy of inconsistently adding ala carte items.

An effective background screening process is a blend of expertise, cost management, and proactive strategy. Maximize your resources with tailored screening solutions that suit your unique business needs.

Need a background check vendor that is more collaborative and helps you reduce costs? Reach out to Vault’s sales team to discuss a partnership.


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The information and opinions expressed are for educational purposes only and are based on current practice, industry related knowledge and business expertise. The information provided shall not be construed as legal advice, express or implied. Consult with legal counsel before any action is taken or not taken in relation to information disseminated in this resource.