Background Checks


The fallout from the Edward Snowden debacle continues to plague some of the nation’s largest background checking firms.  For example, as more details emerge, another story based on the Snowden affair that appeared in the July issue of “The Background Investigator” citing more problems with the nation’s largest background checking firms caught my eye.  “USIS, the largest contractor involved in conducting background checks for the federal government, is being scrutinized over allegations about a ‘systematic failure to adequately conduct investigations,’ Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo) said during a special Congressional hearing…”

The article continues:  “Since 2007, 18 people have been convicted of falsifying records while conducting background checks,” according to officials.  “Eleven of those were federal workers; seven were contractors.”

At the heart of the problem is the “pressure on contractors to complete cases quickly to bring in more money for their firms.”

USIS was formerly a branch of the federal government – US Investigations Services – but it was spun out of the Office of Personnel Management back in 1996 and was later acquired by two private equity firms. At the time, USIS had approximately 7,000 employees!

USIS was sold to another private equity firm called Providence “which specializes in buying and selling media, telecom, and data companies.”  More recently, USIS “has been combined with employment screening-firm HireRight Inc., corporate-investigations firm Kroll, Inc., and others under the name Altegrity, Inc.”

These shocking revelations seem to suggest that bigger certainly doesn’t mean better – and don’t get me started about the level of customer service that huge background checking firms offer.  You either buy what these giants are selling or you pick a smaller vendor that will work with an employer to tailor their products to fit the employer’s needs – at a reasonable price.

Huge background checking firms, as the foregoing criminal investigations suggest, can’t even guarantee that a background check is actually being done, and not totally fabricated.  Nor do their typically low prices suggest that the employer is getting a bargain background check.  As an anonymous wit once said, “When you buy something cheap, that’s what you get.”

If you’re not satisfied with buying a pre-employment screening product “off the shelf,” call us for professional personal service you won’t find anywhere else.