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Why Background Checks Are Critical to Preventing Fraud and Protecting Public Safety

In today's society, the importance of background checks cannot be overstated. Background checks are essential in preventing fraud and protecting public safety. From employers to landlords, more and more people are relying on background checks to evaluate the credibility of individuals. But what is a background check, and why are they critical in today’s society?

Background checks are searches performed by individuals or organizations on public records or other open resources to obtain information about a person's past. These checks can be conducted for a variety of reasons, such as pre-employment screening, volunteering, tenant screenings, or even for dating. They are designed to help organizations make more informed decisions about who they associate themselves with or hire.

The increase in the importance of background checks can be attributed to the rising frequency of frauds, scams and impersonations, marring almost every domain of society. However, it is essential to note that background checks should not be used to discriminate against individuals but should be a tool to ensure transparency and safety.

Prevent fraud

Background checks can help prevent fraud in several ways. By conducting a background check, it’s possible to identify any fraudulent activities, past criminal history and patterns of deception. A recurring theme among fraudsters is that they tend to repeat these practices, meaning that their past might give future employers a hint of warning.

In the corporate world, a background check can prevent fraud from happening through theft or embezzlement. Organizations can identify employees with a history of malfeasance and exclude them from access to critical assets. Moreover, by obtaining access to employees' public and financial records, an organization can detect any red flags, such as bankruptcy or avoiding taxes, which might be predictive of such misconduct.

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Protect public safety

Background checks can also help protect the general public. This is especially crucial for jobs that require employees to interact with vulnerable populations, such as children, or the elderly. By performing pre-employment background checks, employers can keep unqualified, incompetent, or undesirable persons out of these professions.

For instance, a school administrator can utilize background checks to screen potential employees for a history of substance abuse or violence. Moreover, landlords can screen potential tenants through a background check that indicates that they are not a danger to other inhabitants or the community.

Examples of the importance of background checks

A great example of the importance of background checks can be drawn from Dorcas, an African self-help group providing assistance to deprived families, children, and vulnerable groups. The organisation had once employed a man to assist in their operations, who presented himself as a volunteer. However, when it became clear that he had been fraudulent and was stealing from them, they decided to conduct a background check. The results revealed that the criminal record that he had presented to them was false and that he had a history of fraud, theft, and identity theft, amongst others. If only they had conducted a background check, they could have avoided the harm done to their organisation.

Another example is the "runner on the road" phenomenon in Nigeria. When people are involved in accidents, those who arrived to rescue often insist on taking the victim to a particular hospital with the intention of extorting money from the victim’s family. A background check is beneficial in verifying the identity of these Good Samaritans and preventing intentional harm.

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In conclusion, background checks are an essential component for individual and public safety. They provide a tool to detect fraudulent activities and keep violators from obtaining employment or housing opportunities that could put the general public at risk. When employed correctly and without discrimination, background checks can create a safer, more trustworthy environment for all individuals.

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