Why Are Background Checks Important in Today’s Society? How Do They Help Prevent Fraud and Protect Public Safety?
Background checks have become a standard part of hiring, volunteering, and adopting processes in today's society. It is no wonder why, given the endless stories and news reports about the dangers lurking around every corner. From identity theft to assault, fraud to homicide, there are more reasons now than ever before to take extra precautions before hiring, trusting, or committing oneself to strangers. Background checks are designed to provide valuable information about someone’s past, and their criminal, employment, and financial history, providing key safeguards against fraud, violence, and a host of other dangers.
This article delves into how background checks help to prevent fraud and protect public safety, detailing real-life examples of how they have helped people stay safe and sound.
Why Conduct Background Checks?
As the world becomes more interconnected and global, our workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods have become more diverse and complex. We no longer live in the small towns or neighborhoods of yesteryear, where everyone knew everyone else. Instead, people are more likely to interact with strangers in various settings, such as in the workplace, schools, volunteer organizations, and social networks.
In many cases, these interactions are brief and insignificant, such as buying a coffee from a new barista or chatting with a fellow gym-goer. Yet, in other situations, these interactions have the potential to be impactful, such as hiring an employee, entrusting a child to a tutor, or allowing someone to enter your home. In these cases, people need to know as much as they can about the person they are dealing with to reduce risks and ensure their safety.
Background checks are the solution. By providing relevant and valuable information to decision-makers, these checks provide safeguards that might not otherwise exist.
One of the chief benefits of background checks is that they can help prevent fraud, which is a common occurrence today. Fraud can take on many forms, from identity theft to embezzlement to Ponzi schemes. In all cases, the perpetrator is looking to deceive someone else, whether it is an individual or a business, with the goal of taking their money, personal information, or property.
Background checks are essential in preventing fraud because they can uncover past crimes or behaviors that are red flags. For example, someone with a history of financial crimes is more likely to commit them again than someone with a clean slate. Similarly, someone who has falsely claimed to have a degree or held a job that they never have is more likely to misrepresent themselves in the future.
Protecting Public Safety
Another significant benefit of background checks is that they protect public safety. There is no shortage of stories about individuals who have perpetrated violent crimes against innocent people due to a lack of accessibility to their criminal history. By conducting background checks, decision-makers can have access to information about someone’s past behavior that might indicate a propensity for violence or other crimes. Armed with this information, they can make informed decisions about hiring, admitting, or trusting people.
Background checks are not just an abstract concept – they have real-world applications that have saved countless lives and prevented countless crimes. Consider the following examples:
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
In December 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 people, mostly young children and their teachers. In the aftermath of the shooting, it was revealed that Lanza's mother had purchased a firearm for him. Had she conducted a background check, she would have discovered that Lanza had a history of mental illness and would not have been able to purchase the gun legally.
Colorado Theater Shooting
In July 2012, James Holmes entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and killed 12 people. In the aftermath of the shooting, it was revealed that Holmes had been able to purchase several firearms despite his history of mental illness. Had these gun dealers conducted background checks, they would have discovered that Holmes was not permitted under federal law to purchase guns.
In conclusion, background checks are an essential tool in modern society. By providing decision-makers with valuable information about a person's criminal, employment, and financial history, they reduce risks and ensure public safety. With the rise of fraud and violence in our interconnected world, it is more crucial now than ever before to conduct proper background checks to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. By taking the necessary precautions, we can prevent future tragedies and create a safer and more secure world.