Why Are Background Checks Important in Today's Society? How Do They Help Prevent Fraud and Protect Public Safety?
Background checks are essential in today's society for various reasons. They help prevent fraud and protect public safety by revealing the past of a person. In other words, they allow individuals and organizations to make informed decisions about who they hire, work with, or associate with. Failure to conduct background checks can lead to disastrous consequences, such as financial loss, reputational damage, legal liability, and even harm to innocent people.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, over 80% of employers conduct background checks on job candidates before hiring them. This practice has become standard in many industries, such as finance, healthcare, government, transportation, education, and hospitality. Additionally, many organizations require background checks for volunteers, contractors, and vendors who may have access to sensitive data or facilities.
In this article, we will explore the reasons why background checks are important in today's society and how they help prevent fraud and protect public safety. We will also provide examples of how background checks have uncovered criminal activity, fraudulent behavior, and other red flags that could have gone unnoticed otherwise.
Why Are Background Checks Important?
Background checks are important for several reasons, including:
1. Protecting Public Safety: Background checks help protect public safety by screening out individuals with criminal records, violent behavior, or other risky characteristics. For example, employers who hire drivers can use background checks to verify their driving records, license status, and accident history to ensure that they do not pose a danger to others on the road. Similarly, schools, daycare centers, and youth organizations can use background checks to identify any past incidents of child abuse, neglect, or endangerment by prospective employees or volunteers.
2. Mitigating Legal Liability: Background checks can help mitigate legal liability by demonstrating that an organization exercised due diligence in its hiring or contracting practices. For example, if an employer hires an employee who later commits a crime or causes harm to another person, the employer may be liable if it can be shown that they knew or should have known about the employee's past criminal history or violent tendencies. On the other hand, if the employer can demonstrate that they conducted a thorough background check and took appropriate action based on the results, they may be able to avoid or reduce liability.
3. Ensuring Workplace Integrity: Background checks can help ensure workplace integrity by verifying the credentials, qualifications, and employment history of job candidates. This can prevent fraud, misrepresentation, and identity theft, which can be costly to employers and employees alike. For example, an employer who hires an individual who falsely claims to have a degree or certification could put the employer at risk of legal action, damage to reputation, and financial loss.
How Do Background Checks Help Prevent Fraud?
Background checks can help prevent fraud by verifying the authenticity of identities, credentials, and financial history. For example, a credit check can reveal whether an individual has a history of bankruptcy, default, or financial delinquency, which can indicate potential financial fraud or misconduct. Similarly, a criminal background check can reveal whether an individual has a history of fraud, embezzlement, or other financial crimes.
Moreover, background checks can help prevent fraud by identifying red flags that indicate a person may have a propensity for dishonesty or unethical behavior. For example, a gap in employment history or a pattern of frequent job changes may raise questions about an individual's reliability or commitment to their work. Likewise, discrepancies between a person's resume, references, or other documentation may indicate falsification or deception.
Real-Life Examples of Background Checks in Action
Let's look at some real-life examples of how background checks have uncovered fraudulent behavior and prevented harm to the public.
1. Uber Background Check Failure: In 2016, a driver for Uber, the ride-hailing service, was charged with the murder of six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was later revealed that the driver had a history of criminal offenses, including assault and driving under the influence, that should have disqualified him from being a driver for Uber. However, Uber's background check process failed to detect these offenses due to a loophole in the system. This case demonstrates the importance of thorough background checks and the need for continuous monitoring of employees or contractors who have access to sensitive data or resources.
2. Healthcare Provider Background Check Success: In 2018, a nurse at a long-term care facility in Arizona was arrested on charges of sexual assault and abuse of vulnerable adults, including patients who were in comas or vegetative states. It was later revealed that the nurse had a history of sexual misconduct and abuse of patients at other healthcare facilities where he had worked. However, these incidents were not disclosed in his background check for the Arizona facility. As a result, the facility faced public outrage, legal action, and loss of business. This case underscores the importance of thorough background checks for healthcare providers, particularly those who work with vulnerable populations.
3. Contractor Background Check Warning: In 2019, a contractor hired to work on a U.S. military base in Virginia was arrested on charges of lying about his identity and falsifying his security clearance. The contractor had provided false information about his name, date of birth, and citizenship on his application. Additionally, he had used fraudulent documentation to obtain a security clearance that he was not eligible for. This case highlights the importance of background checks for contractors who work on government facilities or projects, as well as the need for valid identification and verification procedures.
In conclusion, background checks are crucial in today's society for preventing fraud and protecting public safety. They allow individuals and organizations to make informed decisions about who they associate with, hire, or do business with. Background checks help prevent fraud by verifying the authenticity of identities, credentials, and financial history. They also identify red flags that may indicate potential dishonesty, unethical behavior, or risk to public safety. Real-life examples show how background checks can uncover criminal activity and prevent harm to innocent people. Therefore, it is essential that organizations adopt thorough background check policies and procedures and implement them consistently to ensure workplace integrity and safety.