Its “buyer beware” for church background checks!
- Know exactly what you are getting and where your provider is obtaining the information they provide. This is your responsibility and part of your due-diligence.
- Database searches should never be the core of a proper background check. Databases consist of information purchased from courts or from companies that purchase information form courts – and updated periodically. By their very nature they are inaccurate and litigators know this. Begin with a social security number verification and check where the employment application and the SSN verification indicate. Consider a national database search only as an additional level of defense - to “cast a wide net” so to speak. On average, databases cover only about 50% of venues nationwide so the chance is great that they don’t even cover your applicant’s place of residence or employment.
- There is no difference in a background check for a church, a school, or a business. A quality background check is a quality background check and can be delivered by any employment screening firm that is both experienced and credible. Companies that claim to be church specific in their offerings are taking advantage of a marketing tool and change the name of their company depending on the trade shows at which they are exhibiting.
- Make sure that your screening approach targets the specific types of positions you have. Be sure your contact person at the screening company has the expertise needed to assist you throughout your process and that his/her involvement doesn’t end once they take your money.
- Screen volunteers the same way you would screen employees. Courts have held that churches have the same liability with volunteers as with employees.
- By federal law, you must confirm the results you get from a database search with a real county criminal court record search before taking adverse action based upon the result. Why not do it the right way the first time by using county searches. You will increase accuracy and save money in the end.
Based upon the Fair Credit Reporting Act requirements that background check information be derived from the most accurate source(s) available, database use is riddled with peril for both the applicant and the employer. The “buyer beware” mentality of some database sellers is a terrible commentary on the industry. Your church and the people it serves cannot afford the scattergun approach to background checks the database search provides. Due-diligence in the selection of the employment screening products your church uses will help protect your constituents and limit liability.