January 19, 2023 | Verifications

George Santos Debacle Proves Employment Background Screening Matters

Politicians, celebrities, and media figures are all prone to stretching the truth in their resumes. We all know it happens, and yet, each time a high-profile fabricator is revealed, the public’s trust seems to erode a little bit more.

Newsman Brian Williams, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Notre Dame coach George O’Leary have all been caught “embellishing” stories to advance their careers. Now add to that list perhaps the most egregious and brazen case in recent memory: newly elected U.S. Rep. George Santos.

According to multiple reports, the New York congressman has lied about everything from his educational background (claiming to have graduated from a college with no record of him), to his employment (saying he worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs when he did not), to his charitable work (taking credit for a pet rescue organization that never seemed to exist). Santos’s multiple apparent fabrications helped him allegedly dupe investors and gain a seat in government.

The Santos story is yet another reminder that it’s all too easy for dishonest people to get ahead by misrepresenting themselves. In Santos’s case, the victims are his district’s voters. In countless other cases, the victims are employers saddled with unqualified and untrustworthy new hires.

How do these fabrications pass as “facts,” and who’s checking backgrounds? As consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), do we take enough care when it comes to pre-employment background checks? In this age of misinformation, are you sure that your data is authentic and reliable?

With unemployment remaining at historic lows and talent churn increasing in prominent industries like high-tech, these questions are top-of-mind in 2023.

In this article, we’ll propose five strategies for ensuring the highest accuracy and fastest turnaround times for verifications (even for international verifications) — so your clients won’t end up feeling as betrayed as the people who voted for George Santos!

1. Identify a Clear and Comprehensive Scope for Background Screening Services

If you had run a standard pre-employment background check on George Santos, you would have quickly discovered that he never worked at Goldman Sachs. The company had no record of his employment. Unfortunately for the residents of New York’s 3rd congressional district, evidently, no one took even this basic step.

By taking all necessary factors into account when conducting pre-employment background checks, CRAs can help employers make informed decisions while avoiding the risks associated with hiring people with false or inaccurate credentials.

Comprehensive pre-employment background screening can go beyond employment verification to include criminal records, motor vehicle records, and credit history. Furthermore, by double-checking a candidate’s references, background screening agencies can ensure the most accurate representation of an applicant’s past experiences and qualifications – thus avoiding any future surprises.

It is important to determine and communicate a clear scope for verification services. Having a clear scope for verification services helps CRAs price verifications profitably. Many CRAs may not fully understand what verifications cost, and as a result, may be wrapping a dollar bill around each result rather than banking a tidy profit.

2. Verify Sources

One way to ensure accuracy when conducting pre-employment background checks is to verify sources before entering any information into a report.

The digital age has enabled applicants to create false information with ease – making it even harder for employers to filter out falsehoods from facts by simply looking at a resume. This means going beyond merely verifying dates of employment or education and looking into methods, such as personally contacting references, previous employers, educational institutions, and other sources listed on a resume or application.

By taking the time to go through this step, CRAs can reduce errors on background reports due to inaccurate or outdated information. Over the past 20 years conducting verifications, InformData has found that Direct-Source Data® provides the most accurate information, most consistent format, and fastest turnaround time.

3. Utilize Technology

Another way CRAs can help ensure accuracy in pre-employment background checks is by leveraging technology.

Automated software solutions such as search engines and databases allow CRAs to quickly access a variety of sources, which increases efficiency while simultaneously reducing errors associated with manual data entry. Auto dialers and queue sequencers increase efficiency when personal contact with employers is required.

Automated solutions also allow CRAs to access more comprehensive data sets, which can provide deeper insights into an applicant’s background.

Technology can be expensive to acquire, implement, and maintain. CRAs not dedicated to large continuous volumes of verifications may want to partner with agencies that specialize in verifications to get the benefit of technology without bearing the high fixed cost. Specialists’ efficiency can even allow CRAs to charge their present rates, provide better service, eliminate backlogs and ensure consistent profitability without the risks of doing it on their own.

4. Update Processes Often

Finally, it is essential for CRAs to stay current on changes within the industry by regularly updating their processes and procedures.

With new technologies emerging all the time, background screening companies should evaluate their existing processes at least once per year to identify areas for improvement or potential risks of inaccuracy within their reporting systems. Additionally, CRAs should strive to maintain compliance with applicable laws and privacy regulations related to background checks.

5. Consider the Special Circumstances of International Backgrounds

Today over 17% of employees in the United States have some part of their background information coming from a country other than the United States. In addition, the transition to remote work is increasing the rate at which CRAs must provide pre-employment screening for employees with international backgrounds.

According to research firm Gartner, by the end of 2022, 31% of all workers worldwide will be remote (a mix of hybrid and fully remote) and the U.S. will lead in terms of remote workers by the start of 2023, accounting for 53% of the U.S. workforce.

International background checks have many of the same components of US background checks, but every country has different requirements, which means there’s more for you to know and remember to do each time you get an international pre-employment verification request. For many CRAs, outsourcing international verifications may be a smarter way to provide a quality service and improve profitability.

Pre-Employment Verifications: The Most Important Service CRAs Provide

We may never get to the point where the claims of celebrities or politicians are checked the way employers expect CRAs to do pre-employment screening. But if CRAs have the right combination of people, process, and technology, or partner with a qualified verifications outsourcing agency, verifications can be a reliable profit center that reduces the chances of costly and embarrassing hiring mistakes for employers.

If your CRA struggles with pre-employment screening backlogs or can’t achieve profitability on quality backlogs, InformData would appreciate the opportunity to learn your challenges. Chances are we can help you turn pre-employment background checks into the service you love to sell in 2023.

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