Background checks have become increasingly vital in today's society, both for personal and professional reasons. In a world where it's easier than ever to fake credentials or hide a criminal record, employers, landlords, and even individuals are turning to background checks to ensure they're making informed decisions.
What is a background check, exactly? It's a process that involves looking up and compiling criminal records, education and employment history, credit reports, and more. Conducting a background check allows people to verify a person's identity, qualifications, and past behavior.
In this article, we'll explore why background checks are so important in today's society and how they help prevent fraud and protect public safety.
Protecting the Workplace
One of the primary reasons background checks are crucial is to protect the workplace. Employers have a moral and legal obligation to ensure the safety of their employees, and hiring someone who poses a threat to this safety can be costly – both in terms of finances and reputation.
For example, in 2019, a California jury awarded a former employee over $11 million in damages after her employer failed to check the background of the man who would later rape her in a company-provided apartment. Had the background check been done, the employer would have discovered that the man had previously been convicted of sexual assault.
Background checks allow employers to mitigate these risks by verifying an applicant's criminal history and ensuring they're not hiding a violent past or other alarming behaviors. Employers can also use them to confirm work experience and education, which prevents candidates from inflating their resumes.
According to the HireRight 2020 Employment Screening Benchmark Report, 84% of employers who conducted background checks found a discrepancy in at least one candidate's application. The most common discrepancies? Candidates claiming falsified education or employment history.
Background checks are also a crucial tool for preventing fraud. In the hiring process, background checks can verify an applicant's identity, criminal history, and employment and education history. These checks can also reveal if they've been involved in any financial crimes.
Background checks aren't just limited to the hiring process, either. Landlords can use background checks to ensure that potential tenants have a history of timely rent payments and good credit. This helps protect against tenants who may try to take advantage of a landlord by withholding rent or damaging the property.
Additionally, background checks are useful in verifying the identities of individuals in various situations. For example, a background check may be conducted before issuing a loan or credit card to prevent identity theft.
Protecting Public Safety
Finally, background checks are essential in protecting public safety. This can include everything from verifying the criminal history of a potential babysitter or caregiver to confirming the employment history of a public official.
To see the impact of background checks on public safety, look no further than gun control laws. According to a study by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, states with the strongest background checks for gun sales experience lower gun deaths per capita than those without.
In 2019, 13,927 people in the United States were killed in gun homicides. Background checks can help reduce this number by preventing individuals with violent criminal records or histories of mental illness from accessing guns through a licensed dealer.
Background checks are becoming an increasingly vital tool in today's society. They're used to protect the workplace, prevent fraud, and protect public safety. While there are some concerns about the accuracy of background checks, most people agree that they play an essential role in ensuring that people are who they say they are and that they're qualified for the position they're seeking.
If you're an individual looking for a job, applying to rent a property, or even just dating online, don't be surprised if you're asked to undergo a background check. It's becoming more and more common in all areas of life, and it's ultimately for everyone's safety and security.
In today's society, the saying "trust but verify" seems more applicable than ever before. Fortunately, with background checks, people don't have to take someone's word for it – they can verify their histories and qualifications to make informed decisions.