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Common Transgressions

One survey finds an ever-increasing use of background checks -- and a 50-50 chance of finding a discrepancy during reference checks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
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An annual Hiring Index survey by a large screening company has shown a 16 percent increase in the number of background checks in the United States.

According to Roseland, N.J.-based ADP Employer Services, this marks the seventh consecutive year of increased usage of pre-employment screening services. The survey, released in April 2005, covers checks performed in the United States in 2004, compared to 2003. The number of checks performed annually by the company has more than tripled since 1997, the first year of the Hiring Index survey.

Of more than 4 million background checks conducted, ADP Screening and Selection Services found 9 percent contained a data inconsistency or negative information. Inaccuracies were divided into five categories: criminal records, driving records, credit records, workers' compensation claims and reference verifications.

Contained in the report were the following statistics.

Reference Verifications: Fifty percent of employment, education and/or credential reference checks revealed a difference of information between what the applicant provided and the source reported. This finding represents a 2 percent decrease compared to the 2004 Hiring Index.

In performing the reference verification checks, 7 percent of the information differences were to the detriment of the applicant. That was a 1 percent decrease from the year before.

Criminal Records: Five percent of applicants checked for a criminal record in the last seven years were revealed to have one.

Driving Records: Twenty-nine percent had one or more violations or convictions on their driving record, a 2-percent decrease from last year. In addition, 2 percent had one or more drug or alcohol violations on their driving records in the last seven years.

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Workers' Compensation Claims: Among checks conducted to see if the applicant had a previous workers' compensation claim, 8 percent showed the existence of one.

Credit Records: Forty-five percent of credit records checked showed a judgment, lien or bankruptcy, or indication they had been reported to a collection agency. This finding represents a 1 percent increase compared to the previous year.

"Employers consistently face hiring risks including applicant dishonesty, workplace violence, negligent hiring liability, turnover, theft and fraud," says Dean Suposs, general manager of ADP Screening and Selection Services. "As evidenced by the increased use of pre-employment screening, employers are realizing the value in performing background checks as a way to help ensure a qualified, experienced workforce."

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