In today's rapidly changing society, background checks have emerged as a critical tool for safeguarding public safety and preventing fraud. Whether it's hiring a nanny, renting an apartment, or signing a business contract, the need for conducting thorough background checks is undeniable. From identifying criminal history to verifying employment credentials, background checks have become an integral part of our modern societal fabric. In this article, we will explore the importance of background checks and how they help prevent fraud and protect public safety.
## Background Checks - Defined
A background check is an investigative process conducted by an organization, employer, or individual to uncover relevant information about an individual. The information gathered includes criminal record checks, identity verification, employment history, and educational records. Companies employ background checking services to mitigate the risk of hiring employees with a fraudulent history of criminal behavior or false identity.
## The Benefits of Background Checks
You might be wondering why background checks are so important. Here are some benefits:
### Prevent Fraud
Every year, millions of dollars are lost due to fraud in the workplace. Knowing who you are dealing with and assessing their credibility through background checks helps prevent fraud. Fraudulent activities such as identity theft, forgery, and embezzlement against small businesses, public organizations, and individuals occur daily. With a background check, one can verify that the person they plan to hire has no prior convictions involving theft, fraud, or forgery.
### Hire the Right Fit
Companies invest significant financial resources in recruiting and hiring the right individuals. A single bad hire can be costly both in terms of time and money spent on recruitment costs, training, and lost productivity. Background checks help employers verify if a candidate has the right experience and qualifications for a position.
### Protect Public Safety
Background checks help keep the community safe. An employer is responsible not only for their employees but also for the safety of their customers, clients, or residents. Conducting background checks on those who handle sensitive information or work with children is crucial. It ensures that the individual has no history of violent or sexual behavior that can put others at risk.
### Prevent Liability Risks
Employers have a duty to provide their employees with a safe and secure work environment. Not conducting background checks exposes employers to potential liability risks. A company that hires an individual with a criminal record or a history of misconduct is opening itself up to significant risks and potential lawsuits.
## Real-Life Examples
To illustrate the importance of background checks, here are a few real-life examples:
### Uber & Lyft
In 2018, Uber was hit by a lawsuit after one of its drivers was charged with sexual assault. It was discovered that he had a history of criminal conduct, including a prior conviction for sexual battery.
To ensure passenger safety, Uber beefed up its driver screening process, taking into account criminal records and driving history. Similarly, Lyft revamped its background check system in 2019, carrying out annual criminal and driving record checks on drivers.
### Wells Fargo Scandal
In 2016, Wells Fargo was rocked by a scandal that involved employees opening unauthorized accounts on behalf of their customers. An internal investigation revealed that the bank failed to conduct adequate background checks on employees and did not properly monitor their work.
Had the bank deemed background checks as a necessary criterion for recruitment, the scandal could have been averted. Background checks could have uncovered fraudulent behavior and saved the reputation and trust that customers had previously placed in the bank.
### Penn State
In 2011, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting young boys. Sandusky's crime came to widespread public attention, and many were shocked to learn that Penn State management had allegedly covered for him.
The scandal raised questions about the university's hiring practices and background checks. Critics wondered if the university did enough to screen job candidates for red flags that, in hindsight, should have been obvious.
## The Impact of COVID-19 on Background Checks
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for background checks, particularly on essential workers. With increased pressure to quickly hire staff in unprecedented times, organizations may overlook proper screening processes. In some cases, the pandemic has opened the door to fraudulent activities, heightened the risk of identity theft, and increased non-compliant behavior.
## In Conclusion
In today's society, background checks are becoming more crucial than ever. A thorough background check can help identify red flags that might endanger public safety or add expenses to a business. Background checks can help prevent fraud, protect public safety, ensure hiring the right fit, and stave off liability risks. These verifications are integral to ensuring individuals are who they claim to be and have no history of misbehavior or criminal misconduct. Conducting background checks is not only responsible but is an essential safety protocol to ensure the well-being of employees, customers, clients, and the public.