Why are Background Checks Important in Today's Society? How do They Help Prevent Fraud and Protect Public Safety?
In today's society, background checks have become an essential tool to verify information, prevent fraud and protect public safety. From employers to landlords, lenders to government agencies, a background check can quickly reveal vital information about an individual's criminal history and background.
Background checks are also critical to maintaining the integrity of sensitive industries, such as healthcare, financial services, and the legal profession. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the importance of background checks, how they work, and their role in preventing fraud and protecting public safety.
What is a Background Check?
A background check is a process of vetting an individual's personal, professional, and criminal history to determine their suitability for a particular role or position. Employers, lenders, landlords, and government agencies use background checks to verify an individual's identity, employment history, credit history, education, and criminal history.
Background checks typically include the following:
- Criminal record checks: These checks involve verifying an applicant's criminal history in all states they have resided in, and identifying any arrests or convictions, including felonies and misdemeanors, sex offender registries, and the National Criminal Database.
- Employment history checks: Employers conduct these checks to verify an applicant's employment history, including job title, salary, and dates of employment.
- Education and credential verification: These checks verify that an applicant's education and professional credentials are valid.
- Credit checks: These checks verify an applicant's credit rating and debt levels.
- Motor vehicle record checks: These checks verify an applicant's driving history and any previous driving violations.
The Importance of Background Checks
Background checks play a critical role in maintaining public safety and preventing fraud. Here are some ways they do that:
1. Preventing Fraud
By conducting background checks, employers and lenders can protect themselves against fraud and scams by identifying individuals with a history of fraudulent activity. A thorough background check can reveal criminal activities such as embezzlement, identity theft, and other financial malfeasance, helping employers and lenders identify individuals who are not trustworthy or suitable candidates for their organization.
2. Ensuring Public Safety
Background checks are particularly important for ensuring public safety. Employers in sensitive industries such as healthcare, child care, and education, routinely use background checks to ensure that the individuals they hire do not have a criminal history that could potentially harm patients or children. Likewise, landlords use background checks to verify an applicant's criminal history and eviction records, helping ensure that they do not rent to individuals who have a history of violent behavior or criminal activity.
3. Protecting Businesses
Background checks also play a critical role in protecting businesses from potential liabilities lawsuits. By conducting thorough background checks, employers can ensure that they are not hiring individuals with a history of criminal, violent, or unethical behavior that could contribute to a hostile work environment or result in lawsuits against the company.
4. Reducing Employee Turnover
Background checks can also help reduce the rate of employee turnover by ensuring that an employer is hiring the right fit for the job. By verifying an applicant's employment and education history and conducting criminal record checks, an employer can ensure that the candidate has the necessary skills and experience to perform the job and is not likely to pose a liability threat.
Real-life Examples of the Importance of Background Checks
The importance of background checks cannot be overstated, as they have helped protect public safety and prevent fraud in many real-life situations. Some examples of the importance of background checks are:
1. The Uber Case
In 2014, Uber hired a driver in San Francisco who had a criminal history that included convictions for cocaine possession and reckless driving, among other charges. Later that year, that driver was accused of raping one of his passengers, which led to a public outcry against Uber and calls for more thorough background checks for drivers. Following this incident, Uber significantly improved its background check process, implementing more stringent checks for drivers to protect passenger safety.
2. The Theranos Case
In the case of the failed blood-testing company Theranos, the company's founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was able to rise to fame and attract prominent investors despite a lack of any medical credentials and a questionable history, including criminal fraud charges. If the company had conducted thorough background checks on Holmes and her business partners, they might have discovered their questionable backgrounds and avoided investing in a fraudulent company that ultimately caused harm to their patients and investors.
Background checks are critical to maintaining public safety and preventing fraud. With the rise of new technologies and the increasing access to sensitive personal information, background checks have never been more important. Employers and recruiters should conduct comprehensive background checks on their employees or prospective hires to protect their organization, reduce liability, and promote public safety. Through the implementation of background checks, we can move towards ensuring that everyone is held accountable for their actions, creating a safer world for all.