In today's society, background checks have become an increasingly important tool in protecting public safety and preventing various forms of fraud. From hiring new employees to screening potential tenants, background checks have become a vital aspect of daily life. In this article, we will explore the reasons why background checks are essential in today's world and how they can help prevent fraud and protect the public.
What are background checks?
A background check is a process of verifying someone's identity and finding information about their past. At its most basic level, a background check involves searching public records, criminal records, credit reports, and more to see if the person has a history of criminal activity, financial problems, or other issues that might make them unsuitable for certain jobs or positions.
In the past, background checks were primarily used by employers to screen job applicants, but today they are used in a variety of contexts, including:
- Renting a property
- Applying for a loan
- Seeking a professional license
- Joining a volunteer organization
- Starting a business
- Purchasing a firearm
Why are background checks important?
Background checks are important for several reasons, including:
1. Protecting public safety: One of the most critical reasons for conducting background checks is to protect public safety. If an individual has a history of criminal activity or violent behavior, they may pose a danger to others. Background checks help to identify these individuals and prevent them from obtaining positions or licenses where they could cause harm to others.
For example, if a school district fails to conduct background checks on teachers and hires someone with a history of violent behavior, the consequences could be severe. Background checks are particularly important in industries such as healthcare, education, and law enforcement, where employees can wield significant power over vulnerable populations.
2. Preventing fraud: Background checks are also essential in preventing various forms of fraud. For example, if a business is considering hiring an employee to work with its finances, it would be prudent to conduct a background check to see if the person has a history of financial problems or fraud.
In addition to preventing internal fraud, background checks can also help prevent external fraud. For example, a landlord may run a background check on prospective tenants to see if they have a history of evictions or financial problems that could lead to unpaid rent or property damage.
3. Protecting business reputation: Conducting background checks can help protect a business's reputation by ensuring that it hires employees with a suitable and trustworthy background. If a business hires an employee with a history of dishonesty or criminal activity, it could damage the business's reputation and lead to financial losses.
For example, if a business hires a financial advisor with a history of fraud, it could lead to customer complaints and a loss of business. Similarly, if a hotel hires an employee with a history of theft, it could lead to negative online reviews and a loss of revenue.
To better understand the importance of background checks, let's examine a few real-life examples:
1. Uber's driver background check program: In 2018, Uber announced a new background check program for its drivers. The program included conducting annual background checks on drivers and increasing the scope of the background check to include federal and county criminal records.
The move was in response to several high-profile incidents involving Uber drivers, including an incident in which an Uber driver sexually assaulted a passenger. The new background check program was designed to improve public safety and protect passengers from harm.
2. Wells Fargo's employee background check system: Wells Fargo's employee background check system has come under scrutiny in recent years following several high-profile incidents involving employee misconduct. In one case, a financial advisor was found to have stolen funds from a deceased client's account.
The incident led to outrage from customers and a loss of trust in the company. To prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, Wells Fargo announced that it would be increasing the frequency and scope of its employee background checks.
3. Background checks for gun purchases: Background checks are required for all gun purchases in the United States, with the exception of private sales. The system is designed to prevent individuals with a history of violent behavior or mental illness from obtaining firearms.
The system has been effective in preventing several tragedies, including the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in which the shooter was found to have a history of domestic violence.
In conclusion, background checks are an essential tool in today's society. They help to protect public safety, prevent fraud, and protect business reputations. While there are some privacy concerns associated with background checks, they serve an important purpose in ensuring that individuals in positions of power are trustworthy and reliable.
As we move into the future, it is likely that background checks will become even more important as technology continues to evolve and new threats emerge. To ensure public safety and prevent fraud, businesses and organizations must take background checks seriously and invest in reliable systems for conducting them.