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Private Investigators Can Find Niche Work with Employee Background Checks

A New Breed of Detective
Because employers cannot tell if an applicant is inflating a resume, and if employers don"t have the resources to double-check the information, they are turning to private investigators to do the screening work for them. The cost of a pre-employment background check is negligible when compared to the high cost of hiring the wrong employee. The cost to businesses from theft and fraud is rising. If an employee"s actions hurt a client or another employee, the employer may be held legally liable. The increasing demand is creating a formative specialty for PIs across the country. Everyone from church youth group leaders to school volunteers must submit to background checks.
How It Works
According to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, job applicants must authorize and agree to the screen before it can be performed. The applicant is allowed to dispute the findings if anything in the background check results in him or her not being offered the position. Only public records and data are mined to cull the applicant"s background. Negative background information can only be held against an applicant if it is related to the job. For example, an accountant could be denied work if he or she has a prior tax evasion conviction or a nurse could be denied work because of drug-related crimes. An applicant cannot be denied a job solely because he or she has a criminal record; it must be pertinent to the job.
The PI combs criminal records from the counties in which the applicant lived, and prior employment dates are confirmed. Licenses and degrees are confirmed for certain professions.  Credit reports are perused to gauge how responsible the individual is. Employers frequently ask for internet checks for an applicant"s MySpace or Facebook profile, to find any "digital dirt.- It is entirely legal for the PI to speak with the applicant"s neighbors and associates about his or her "character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living- under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Online technology can make all of this screening work quicker for the PI, and saves on costs associated with travel.
In California, and a few other states, the state law related to employment checks is stronger than the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. California has an investigative reporting law that mandates that applicants be allowed to obtain a copy of their background check, regardless of whether adverse action was taken. Private investigators need to stay apprised of relevant civil codes to avoid violation of state laws.

By Adam Herschkowitz
Get Private Investigator Jobs, Contributing Editor

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