Employers are becoming more and more cautious. That’s why employee background checks are becoming more and more routine. Regardless of whether you are checking employee backgrounds for employment or for promotions, you want to get a background-information provider that satisfies your security criteria.

     There are many companies online that offer background check services for your employees. The costs for these checks varies from approximately $20 to $200. As with most things we purchase, we get what you pay for.

     A $20 background check will likely be performed by a “bulk supplier” who has access to various databases on pay-per-search databases. These will include civil and criminal records and possibly some employment records as well.

     The point to remember when hiring an individual or company to do an employee background check is that these databases are never complete. It’s an easy task for the “researcher” to search several employee databases in seconds, and then report the result to you. But if those records aren’t up date and comprehensive, then you won’t get all the information you desire.

What can you do?

     First, recognize the fact that employee background information provided to you by database providers will be incomplete without an extensive search that includes what private investigators call an “on the ground” investigation of court records. This more extensive search entails locating the states and counties in which the person has lived and having someone actually go to the courthouses and search individual records of people with the same name. Obviously these can be expensive. But in many instances they are well worth it. It’s your call.

     But in other cases a basic search of the person’s criminal and civil background will be 90 to 95% complete, and sufficient to give you the indicator that you need to make your employment. It all depends on how central the person’s job is to your company, and how sensitive that job is.

     Second, ask each information provider how fully they can guarantee their results. You’ll be surprised how quickly they back peddle, and assert that screening employee backgrounds is more of an art than a science. They’ll guarantee the results they do provide are according to public record, but they won’t guarantee that those results are conclusive or even correct. In other words there may be other information out there not discovered in employment background check. It may be old court records, old bankruptcies, judgment, and liens, and so on.

     It is then that you have to make the crucial decision: How far do you want to go to investigate the person? Paying hundreds more for a more thorough “on the ground” search may end up not revealing more about the person, but it will give you greater peace of mind. Again the call is yours.

     Look closely. Choose wisely. Know the facts about your employees and about the providers too. Your success and the success of your company depend on it.

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