Extensive Background Checks Necessary for Positions of Extreme Trust and Influence

The recent story of a Virginia church that mistakenly hired a convicted felon is a shocking example of what can happen when the wrong person is hired. The damage to the church’s reputation, likely loss of congregational trust and membership, and the cost associated with replacing the offending pastor are just a few of the damaging results of a hiring process gone wrong.

In positions of trust and influence – church pastors being a great example of such positions – the need for background checks is even greater. Corporate leaders, physicians, pharmacists, and teachers are other examples of positions that carry a significant level of trust and influence over fellow employees, customers, and the public at large.

In such cases, the need for background screening extends beyond the norm.

Basic Background Check vs Extensive Background Check: What’s the Difference?

Here is a table comparing the typical services of basic and extensive background checks:

Basic Extended
For lower-level roles where the individual is closely supervised with no unsupervised access to people and/or property. For higher-level positions of trust, influence, and fiduciary responsibility
  • SSN Locator
  • National Criminal Database Check
  • Sex Offenders Record Search – same as above Motor Vehicle Records Search
  • Local Criminal Database Search – Current Jurisdiction
  • SSN Locator
  • National Criminal Database Check
  • Sex Offenders Record Search – same as above Motor Vehicle Records Search
  • Local Criminal Database Search – 7 Year History
  • Federal Criminal Records Search – 7 Year History
  • Employment Credit Report
  • Education Verifications
  • Employment Verifications
  • Media and Civil Records Searches
  • Drug Screening
$40 $200

As you can see, the difference between a basic employment background check and a background check for someone who will hold a position of trust, influence, and fiduciary responsibility is significant in scope. And for good reason: a thorough background check offers well-rounded insight into the past experience and behaviors of your prospective employee. This insight gives employers the ability to make solid predictions about how an individual is likely to perform in a given role. The benefits of background screening are well-documented and the cost associated with these background checks is a small price to pay for the opportunity to make better hiring decisions that protect your brand, decrease turnover, avoid liability, and much more.

Here you’ll find descriptions of each service listed in the above table:

Components of a Basic Background Check:

1. SSN Locator

A SSN Locator report verifies a logical connection between an individual’s stated name and social security number, and determines the validation of the number against issued numbers and against the death index. The SSN Locator serves as the basis of further background screening efforts by determining jurisdictions and names to include in local criminal records and related searches.

2. National Criminal Database Search

National criminal database searches are used in basic background checks as a quick way to search more than 240 million criminal records from 49+ states before pursuing records from specific local jurisdictions. It is NEVER a substitute for a local criminal search, but it does supplement those efforts.

3. Sex Offenders Record Search

Basic background checks should also include a sex offender registry check conducted through the Department of Justice portal, which offers access to data from each state’s registry.

4. Local Criminal Records Search – Current Jurisdiction

In a basic background checking scenario, you’ll often find that a current jurisdiction local criminal records search is enough. These records can uncover felony convictions, misdemeanors, bench warrants, and other local-level court actions in the location your applicant currently resides.

4. Motor Vehicle Records Search

Recommended for most basic background checks is a motor vehicle records search that includes items such as license status, endorsements, points, and infractions.

Components of an Extensive Background Check:

Each of the following services as described in the basic background check above:

  • SSN Locator
  • National Criminal Database Search
  • Sex Offenders Record Search
  • Motor Vehicle Records Search

Local Criminal Records Search – 7 Year History

Similar to the basic background check version of the local criminal records search, the 7-year local records search looks at the applicant’s past 7 years of residency.

Federal Criminal Records Search – 7 Year History

This search centers on the districts in which the applicant has resided over the past 7 years and offers reported information among the 93 districts that handle federal criminal cases.

Employment Credit Report

Used to further assess an individual’s level of responsibility, an employment credit check provides a summary of balances, payment history, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, and official inquiries.

Education Verification

Stories of corporate CEOs and others who are discovered to have attained their jobs with false degree claims underscore the importance of education verification. This service checks the post-high school educational degrees to verify your applicants’ claims.

Employment Verification

Employment verifications are also conducted as part of a higher-level background check. These employment verifications can range from simply checking the dates and positions of prior employment to going well beyond with online systems that facilitate the gathering of in-depth insight from previous employers.

Media and Civil Records Searches

Media searches cover extensive news amalgamation database searches of all major media over a given time frame using the individual’s first and last name. It can also include social media searches, looking at the individual’s internet identities and reviewing any social media profiles, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.

Adding to this, civil records searches involve searching civil court records at the County (upper and lower courts) and Federal levels, based on the type of information being sought. Typically a 7 year timeframe is covered.

Drug Screening

Employment drug screening for common illegal and/or prescription drugs of abuse is another important component of a higher-level background check.

Match Your Background Checks to the Job

We’ve designed a background screening program builder to help you match the risks and duties of a job with the type of background check you’ll require for the position.  Check out this tool at www.proformascreening.com/program-builder/.

About Michael Gaul

A security industry professional since 1988, Michael has extensive expertise in the fields of human capital risk management, physical security, and background screening process management. Michael leads Proforma’s sales, marketing, and strategic customer relations efforts.
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