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HireSafe Background Check Basics

Introductory Information for HireSafe Background Checks

New and old clients alike have questions about why we use online forms, what goes into the cost of a background check, and what exactly compliance means to them. Below are answers to some of the most asked questions.

If you still have questions after browsing the below, please email us:

Understanding how and why we do what we do

At HireSafe, our goal is to protect our clients and their potential hires by following the laws and regulations set forth by the FCRA, and local laws or ordinances. To avoid breaking the law, and opening our clients up to costly lawsuits, there are procedures we must follow. Due to this, many clients have questions about why we do what we do. The most common questions revolve around the following, click the buttons below to view each or scroll to read it all!

The Basics: The potential hire is provided online forms to ensure we have the most up to date compliant documents. They also eliminate errors encountered when paper or fax applications are copied manually into the online system. Online forms are more accurate, secure, and compliant than paper or fax.

The Basics: Legal background check services MUST investigate counties the potential hire has lived in for possible criminal records by contacting the county court. The courts that house those documents charge for accessing their files. Companies that do not include this charge in their background screening charges may not be compliant. Using a service that does not confirm criminal records at the county court level is illegal and will result in fines, lawsuits, and more.

The Basics: Compliance is following the regulations governing background check services. Background checks must comply with the specific rules and laws set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In addition, state and local laws and ordinances may also require additional appropriate steps, documents, or procedures. Not following these regulations is illegal and will result in fines, lawsuits, or more so HireSafe protects our clients with compliant procedures like those listed below.

Why do we use online documents and forms? Why not paper or fax?

There are many reasons why HireSafe uses digital signatures and online forms for our screening services. Among the most important are accuracy, information security, and legal compliance.


By using our secure web portal, potential hires can fill in their address history and background information, and this has many positive effects. Firstly, it lowers costs for your company by eliminating the need to transpose the candidate's answers to another form in our office or yours. It also limits errors that arise from deciphering illegible handwriting, or errors from erroneous data entry from staff trying to transpose paper forms to digital format. When the candidate fills in their information, you can be sure they won't be misspelling their name or entering an incorrect birth date.

Errors with candidate data entry directly affect the screening's outcome. With an incorrect last name, birthdate, address, or other information, our searches could turn up nothing when a candidate has a criminal record. Digital data provided directly from the candidate increases reports accuracy tremendously while reducing costs.

Information Security

Paper and emailed documents are only as secure as the individual systems they travel through. When dealing with potential employees, it is never sure what sort of environment you may be sharing sensitive information within. A compromised system may be sharing confidential personal information, social security numbers, and company data without you even knowing. For a long time now, faxing documents has not been considered secure and can be easily co-opted. Then, sensitive information could easily be shared via fax and end up in the wrong hands.

Faxing was once considered secure, but these systems are susceptible to hackers, and more than that have a very high potential for human error. If someone along the line accidentally dials an incorrect number, the effects can be devastating, considering the sensitive information that would be shared. Most companies use a scan to fax system that involves sending data through a private server. However, there is no way to determine whether those servers are secure as the companies providing them offer no promise of security.

To protect our clients, our business, and the many potential employees we screen daily, we secure all data with a two-factor authenticated and well-protected web portal. By guaranteeing sensitive documents through TazWork’s web portal, we guarantee the highest security possible, ensuring your information will be safe.

Digitally documents all routes through our partner TazWork’s servers secured with AWS cloud storage. These secure services protect the company and potential hire information against unauthorized access with multi-factor authentication, sufficient firewalls, and intrusion detection. Visit our data security page to learn more about how HireSafe keeps our client’s and their employee’s data secure.

Legal Compliance

With employee background screening, candidate provided documents must continuously be kept up to date with ever-changing FCRA, EEOC, and local law changes. Our clients are automatically offered these compliant documents, keeping them protected from lawsuits. While in the past, HireSafe regularly updated these documents to provide them to our clients; we soon found that regulation’s pace exceeded our ability to maintain compliant documentation. There was also no way for our office to force our clients to print new forms every time an update occurred. To alleviate these issues, HireSafe uses digital documents to keep our clients safe from FCRA or other lawsuits.

Our online services are ideal for handling constant updates to local regulations and FCRA compliance. When a client requests a background check through our servers, we always provide the correct FCRA compliant documents and required local materials. With thousands of clients all over the US, it would be impossible to ensure that each of them had the most up to date documents and are using them following FCRA regulations.

Using online documents and forms keeps our clients, their employees, and candidates safe while lowering costs for your business. Accurate reporting from the source through secure servers helps HireSafe maintain high accuracy in background screening while protecting client data. Finally, digital format forms and documents protect our clients from FCRA lawsuits by providing the necessary compliance documents automatically.

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What Are Court Fees? Why do charges vary for each background check?

County Courts usually handle criminal record history documentation and storage. Due to this, you will sometimes find that background checks run through HireSafe include court fees on top of the employment screening price. These are fees imposed at the county court level by the government agencies in charge of keeping those records. Background checks that are compliant with FCRA regulations MUST use these agencies to confirm criminal records belong to and are valid for the candidate in question. Therefore, including these court fees is not only required by law but also the reason why HireSafe background checks have high accuracy.

Whenever an employee background check begins, we ask candidates to fill in their address history. When we investigate criminal records at their previous addresses, we refer to the county courts where these are stored. Using a mix of databases and search tools, our criminal record experts investigate your candidate’s past. These searches generally use personal identification information such as name, birth date, and social security number. If our original search gets a hit on a record, it is required by law that we confirm that history belongs to the candidate in question. We accomplish this by querying the county court where the document is stored, which is where court fees come in.

Each court in each state has a different method and price for retrieving the information needed to confirm a criminal record. Depending on where a candidate has lived before applying to your company, the court fees can be higher or lower than average. This means HireSafe can’t estimate what county court fees will be with each screening.

If your candidate has lived in several counties that have records attached to them, we would need to look for criminal records in each of those counties. As expected, this would lead to an increase in court fees.

Here is an opportunity for background check businesses to shave off those extra funds and to lower their costs. Instead of following the law and confirming records at the county court level, they assume the record found on a cheaper database applies to the applicant.

Without verifying this information with the county court, the above practice is both against the law and immoral. It is common to have duplicate names and birthdates showing records on these systems due to the nature of personal identification information. There is also the possibility of a criminal record being incorrectly attributed to someone with no criminal past. For these reasons and more, following FCRA and state law, the county courts need to confirm any record found. It is far too common to have a candidate show a criminal record on a database search but find that record is for a different person when researching at the county level.

Accuracy here is the goal. It is effortless to find cheap background checks online and sign up, only to discover that you aren’t getting an accurate report. In addition, national databases are not always the most precise source of criminal information. It is extremely important to cross-check county records because sometimes the database does not have the county in question, or they have not entered the record yet.
In this way, a cheap background check can falsely identify a candidate as having a criminal record or miss a criminal record that does not exist in a cheap database.

These are all compelling reasons for HireSafe to ensure the most accurate report possible by researching criminal records at the county court level. While this does incur court fees, they are usually inexpensive and well worth the safety they provide from hiring a candidate with a criminal record. Likewise, denying a candidate due to a record that wasn’t confirmed, resulting in a lawsuit.

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What is compliance? Why is it important and what are the repercussions of noncompliance?

Background screening compliance isn’t just a good idea; it’s the law. We often have clients request clarification on what compliance means, compliance importance at their company, and what the repercussions are for noncompliance.

What is employee screening compliance?

Compliance is the most crucial part of a background screening; it involves following the rules and regulations set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and local ordinances. As part of these rules, employers must take many necessary steps to ensure they do not acquire a fine.

Some laws determine how you can ask about criminal history in the original application. For instance, “Ban the Box” states and cities do not allow employers to ask whether an applicant has a criminal history on the job application.

Other rules set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) determine the steps necessary to perform a background check. Employers must disclose specific documents to applicants and get their written authorization before performing a background check. In addition, when a criminal record might cause your company not to consider the applicant, employers must follow the adverse action procedures.

Luckily, HireSafe does some heavy compliance lifting for you. We offer compliant disclosures and retrieve proper authorization for all our background checks. If a client considers not hiring an applicant due to their criminal record, the HireSafe portal has an adverse action procedure to ensure you follow the laws.

Compliance Importance and Noncompliance Repercussions

Compliance isn’t just important because it’s the right thing to do. Your company, your employees, and clients are all affected if you get caught for non-compliant background screening. A recent report from WebRecon shows that FCRA lawsuits were up +11.7% over this time in 2017. It is more and more likely that your company becomes the defendant in a lawsuit if you haven’t been using compliant procedures.

We provide some of the more recent compliance lawsuits to represent the amount of money these lawsuits can cost. The simple fact is you can easily be sued by an applicant who feels slighted by the process your company follows. Attorneys are continually looking for new clients that may not have been given the correct disclosures for FCRA compliance or who weren’t allowed to provide their authorization for the criminal record check.

Your company procedures are all that is standing between you and the courtroom. If your methods miss any small compliance regulation or a manager fails to get the correct disclosure documents to the applicant in the correct order, you could be paying thousands or more to that applicant.

There are hundreds of regulations necessary for background screening that our company is well versed in. That’s why it’s best to leave compliance with the professionals, and with 20 years of service, HireSafe knows how to navigate the hiring compliance maze. Check out our background screening packages to see which might fit best, or fill out a free consultation and a background screening expert will get back to you on the best solution for your company!

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