Criminal background checks are becoming the norm in today’s job market. In countries like America, where it is estimated one in four adults have been arrested for a crime leading to a conviction, employers are spending big bucks to find out about the people they might soon be trusting with their business.
But background checks are far from perfect. Mistakes do get made. Here are some of the more notable ones leaked to the world media.
A 2013 Identity Fraud Report found that 12.6 million people around the world were victims of identity fraud in 2012. One of them was a young, eager in-turn, fresh out of an American college.
On her first day at work, at the San Diego County District Attorney’s office the young law graduate was met by police, handcuffed, read her rights, and taken to jail. She hadn’t even got to sit at her desk!
The poor girl had had her purse stolen. The thief had been caught with marijuana and had given the police the victim’s details before absconding.
In consequence, a warrant had been issued for the young lawyer’s arrest.
Darlene Martinez felt the interview had gone well. She had all the qualities, experience and qualifications necessary for her dream job at the local hospital. She’d worked hard to be able enter this section of the healthcare system; and was sure she was the best person among all the candidates.
When she failed to get the job she was stunned.
Upon asking, she was told a criminal background check had found she had a conviction for drug use. Something Ms. Martinez flatly denied.
In fact she was right. A subsequent check found the charge belonged to a Darlene Ramirez. The two shared a first name, but that was all.
Something similar happened with Ms Donnie Ward. Tired of being a stay-at-home Mum she decided to find herself a part-time job. She sent out applications and resumes and was invited to several interviews.
On landing a job she was called into the Human resources office on her first day. She was grilled as to why she lied on her application form. A criminal background check had found a conviction she had failed to mention
Upon another investigation it was found the conviction belonged to her twin brother, who had been arrested for assault. Like most twins they shared the same birthday and surname; but the small matter of gender seemed to have eluded the people making the check.
True, these matters were eventually sorted out. But those who were passed over for a job didn’t get the chance to reapply. That wouldn’t be fair to the person who did get the job. The mistake by the officials doing the background check was no fault of theirs.
What’s worse is that employers are under no obligation to tell applicants why they have failed to get a job. Mistakes on background reports could then continue to damage a person’s job prospects.
And this is why individuals are urged to undertake their own checks. Knowing what prospective employers will find, before they find it, is the surest way to make sure there aren’t any hidden surprises waiting.
Finally, a US national database has estimated criminal background checks contain erroneous information 41% of the time. Often this is for more recent information not being present when the check is made.
But sometimes it is far more egregious and damaging to the person on whom the check is run.
This article has been brought to you by National Crime Check: Safe, official, secure police checks for businesses and individuals.