Background checks, also known as background screenings, have become increasingly important in today's society. The reasons for this are numerous, including the growth of the internet, a rise in fraud cases, and an emphasis on public safety. In this article, we will explore why background checks are necessary and how they can help prevent fraud and protect public safety.
Why are background checks important?
Background checks are important because they help employers, landlords, and other organizations make informed decisions about whom to hire, rent to, or do business with. They provide information about a person's criminal history, credit history, and other relevant details that can help uncover potential risks.
For example, an employer might conduct a background check on a job applicant to ensure that they don't have a criminal history that could compromise the safety of other employees or customers. Meanwhile, a landlord might conduct a background check on a potential tenant to verify their employment history and ensure that they have a good track record of paying rent on time.
However, background checks aren't just important for employers and landlords. They're also crucial in other areas of society, such as:
- Law enforcement: Background checks are a key tool of law enforcement agencies, who use them to investigate crimes, identify suspects, and track down fugitives. Without background checks, law enforcement would be much less effective in their efforts to maintain public safety.
- Education: Many schools and universities use background checks to screen potential employees and volunteers to ensure that they don't have a history of sexual harassment, child abuse, or other offenses.
- Healthcare: Background checks are used in the healthcare industry to screen potential employees for criminal records, drug use, and other factors that could put patients at risk.
The importance of preventing fraud
Fraud is a significant problem in today's society. According to the FBI, fraud resulted in over $3.2 billion in losses in 2019 alone. Combating fraud is crucial because it not only causes monetary losses but can also undermine public trust in institutions.
Background checks can play a valuable role in preventing fraud by ensuring that people are who they say they are. For example, a background check can verify a person's education and employment history to ensure that they don't misrepresent their qualifications or skills.
Background checks can also help prevent identity theft, which can lead to financial losses or other types of fraud. By verifying a person's social security number, credit history, and other personal details, a background check can help identify whether someone is using false information to commit fraud or other crimes.
Protecting public safety
One of the most important roles of background checks is to protect public safety. By screening out individuals with a history of violent or other dangerous behavior, background checks can limit the risk of harm to others.
For example, many states require background checks for people who want to purchase firearms. These checks help prevent individuals with a history of violent crime or mental illness from obtaining firearms, which can reduce the risk of mass shootings and other types of gun violence.
Background checks can also help protect public safety by ensuring that employees in the healthcare industry are properly qualified and trained. By verifying education and certification credentials, background checks can help prevent people from practicing medicine without a license or other credentials, which can put patients at risk.
To illustrate the importance of background checks, let's look at a few real-world examples:
- Bernie Madoff: One of the most notorious financial criminals in history, Madoff was able to pull off a massive Ponzi scheme because he wasn't subject to a background check. If financial regulators had conducted a background check, they might have discovered that he had a history of financial crimes and other unethical behavior.
- Uber: After multiple reports of sexual assault by Uber drivers, the company began conducting more extensive background checks on its drivers. The move helped improve the safety of riders and restore public trust in the company.
- Bethany College: After a student was accused of sexual assault and later convicted, Bethany College implemented more extensive background checks for all students, faculty, and staff. The move helped increase campus safety and reduce the risk of future incidents.
Background checks are a critical tool for protecting public safety, preventing fraud, and making informed decisions about whom to hire, rent to, or do business with. By providing valuable information about a person's criminal history, credit history, and other relevant details, background checks can help uncover potential risks and ensure that people are who they say they are. While background checks aren't perfect and don't provide complete protection, they're an essential part of modern society and a valuable tool in the fight against fraud and crime.