Background checks have become an essential part of our lives when it comes to creating a safer society. More and more employers, schools, and government agencies are using background checks to ensure that the people they hire or admit meet certain qualifications and have a clean history. So why are background checks so important in today's society, and how do they help prevent fraud and protect public safety?
Firstly, background checks can help prevent fraud by verifying the information provided by an individual. In today’s fast-paced world, identity theft is on the rise, and people can easily falsify their identities or present misleading information. A background check can authenticate the details on a job or college application, criminal records, and credit reports, among other things. This thorough screening process can provide confidence in the legitimacy of the applicant's profile, and could potentially catch any fraudulent actions before any damage is done.
Secondly, background checks can help protect public safety by reducing the risk of hiring someone with a history of criminal offenses, theft, or fraud. Hiring an individual who poses a potential threat could risk the safety of employees, customers, or students, which could result in monetary and reputation loss for an employer or business.
Take the case of Con Ed, the New York utility company that was fined $2.3 million by the U.S. Attorney’s office in 2015 for hiring individuals who posed a significant safety risk to the public. The company hired individuals without conducting proper background checks, which led to several employees with criminal records being hired to perform safety-sensitive jobs. This lack of due diligence risked the safety of the public and resulted in a hefty fine for the company.
Thirdly, background checks can also help prevent discrimination in hiring. Bias is often unconscious, and even if the employer does not intend to discriminate, it can still happen. By conducting background checks, employers can ensure that they are basing their hiring decisions on facts, rather than assumptions. This can potentially reduce the risk of discrimination in hiring, resulting in a fair employment process.
Let us take a look at another example. In 2000, the online pharmacy, PlanetRx, closed after the company’s stock prices plummeted, and over 800 employees lost their jobs. The company was later under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a stock manipulation scheme. The executives of the company were found to have made false claims about the firm's financial performance, leading to the significant rise in stock prices. If background checks were conducted, the executives' history of fraud, manipulation, and other unethical practices could have been uncovered early, giving the company a chance to have prevented such widespread loss.
To hire reliable employees, employers usually conduct background checks that include criminal records, past employment, and education, among other things. Schools also perform background checks before admitting students for exclusive programs, and property management companies conduct background checks on prospective tenants. These checks are a way of ensuring the suitability of the person or entity for the job or program, and the safety of the existing workforce, students, or residents.
In conclusion, background checks have become a necessary part of our lives to ensure that the people we deal with have a clean history, the companies we work for follow ethical practices, and schools have safe learning environments. Background checks are crucial in today’s society and contribute significantly to public safety and fraud prevention. Next time, you feel inconvenience in going through background checks as an employee, student, or tenant, remember that it is for your safety and prosperity.