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Protecting Public Safety: The Importance of Background Checks

The Importance of Background Checks in Today’s Society

Gone are the days where giving someone the benefit of the doubt was common courtesy. In the digital age, we have to be more cautious about who we trust and the potential consequences of trusting the wrong people. This is why background checks have become increasingly important in our society.

Background checks are a way of verifying someone's identity and past. This can include their criminal history, employment history, education, and even credit score. The purpose of a background check is to provide a complete and accurate account of a person's past, particularly if they are looking to work in a position of trust or responsibility that requires them to interact with the public.

Preventing Fraud

Background checks can help prevent fraud by providing employers with more information about an applicant’s past, allowing them to make a more informed decision. For example, if someone has a history of embezzlement, it’s unlikely that they will be hired to handle a company’s finances. By conducting a background check, employers can weed out potential candidates with a history of fraudulent activity, reducing the risk of fraud within the company.

Background checks can also prevent fraud in the rental industry. Landlords can use background checks to verify an applicant’s income and employment history, ensuring they have the means to pay rent and won’t leave the landlord holding the bag. They can also use checks to verify if the applicant has previously been evicted, indicating a potential risk of non-payment or damage to the property.

Protecting Public Safety

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Background checks play a crucial role in protecting public safety. In certain industries such as law enforcement, healthcare, and education, individuals are entrusted with the safety and wellbeing of the public. It is essential to ensure that these individuals have a clean history and aren't a potential threat to those they serve.

Consider law enforcement, for example. A criminal background check can help weed out potential hires with a history of violent crimes or drug abuse. In the healthcare industry, background checks can help prevent medical malpractice. For instance, if a doctor has a history of neglecting patients or conducting unnecessary surgeries, it should be a red flag for healthcare providers.

Background checks can also prevent sexual abuse within communities. Schools and childcare facilities can use checks to verify an applicant’s past behavior around children and prevent them from hiring anyone with a history of sexual misconduct.

Real-life Examples

One of the most notable examples of background check failures was the case of Uber driver Jason Dalton, who murdered six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 2016. Dalton had passed Uber's background check, which did not flag his prior history of vehicular and firearm offenses. This tragedy led to Uber changing their background check policy and partnering with companies such as Checkr to conduct more thorough checks.

Another case occurred in 2018 when a teacher in North Carolina, who was previously convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor in a different state, was hired by a school district without a background check. Fortunately, the superintendent became suspicious of the teacher's behavior and conducted a background check, which led to the discovery of the teacher’s criminal history.

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In both of these cases, background checks could have prevented these tragic events from occurring. It highlights the need for background checks to be comprehensive and thorough to be effective.


In conclusion, background checks are a crucial component of our society, allowing us to make informed decisions about who we trust. They can help prevent fraud in the workplace and provide a level of safety for the public. It is essential that employers, schools, and other organizations use comprehensive background checks to ensure that they are hiring trustworthy individuals. The risks of not doing so, as evidenced by the examples mentioned above, can be catastrophic. As our society continues to evolve and become more digitally-based, the importance of background checks will only continue to grow.

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