Background Checks: No News is Bad News

Background Checks: No News is Bad News

With background checks, now news is bad news.

With background checks, now news is bad news.

Most of us don’t like going to the doctor, fearful we may receive bad news. But unlike the doctor’s office, making sure you complete a proper “check up” in hiring, investing or partnering with someone can only provide good news.  You can either discover adverse details, thereby avoiding risk, or, confirm the veracity of information a person or company represents; either way, you win.

An employee’s resume or business proposal will provide only the information they want you to know. The undisclosed information, critical to forming a decision, is sometimes found deep within layers of data on the Internet. The processes of verifying someone’s suitability, credentials and true background requires multiple steps, all of which are essential to a comprehensive process.

Is the “background check” sufficient for most business needs?

“We did reference checking”, the school superintendent has stated, “…and the references didn’t divulge that information to us.”

Daniel Mark Ogloff , a Langley, B.C. shop teacher, was suspended in the fall of 2013 for putting a sign that read “I’m gay” on the back of a grade 11 student. Ogloff had other discipline issues previous to this incident. It was discovered that Ogloff was hired by an Alberta school in January 2014.

“We did reference checking”, the school superintendent has stated, “…and the references didn’t divulge that information to us.” A thorough background check coupled with a reference check should have revealed Ogloff’s past history.

The term “background check” can be extremely misleading — many companies that perform background checks are not investigating (as Fathom does)  and  may rely on self-disclosed information, references, a criminal record check and credit check. Sometimes, as in the case mentioned, these won’t provide enough information to accurately evaluate risk or make an informed decision about someone’s suitability.  Not all unsavory or unsuitable people have criminal records or bad credit, and you cannot rely on CVs, or even references to disclose information that leads you to an informed decision.

No one database holds all the relevant information required to make the necessary comparisons or to index the tentacles of information that needs to be examined. To be complete, a hands-on investigation is required to identify the information and ensure sources are validated.

Background checks are not standardized

Given the same investigation subject, two background check services may come up with two very different profiles

The problem with background checks is that there is no industry standard for how to investigate, what information to check, or which databases and online resources to use. This can create a huge disparity in results. Given the same investigation subject, two background check services may come up with two very different profiles depending on techniques and resources they used.

Be cautious of using a company that simply uses one or two sources of data as the backbone of their “investigation”. Most background checks merely scratch the surface of a background investigation, leaving information gaps and unanswered questions—some you may have never considered.

Dig deeper with a background investigation

The complete background checks we perform would be more accurately described as comprehensive background investigations.

The complete background checks we perform would be more accurately described as comprehensive background investigations. Though our website sometimes refers to what we do as “background checks”, that is mere necessity, as the term is widely used to describe the entire gamut of background screening services online: the good, the bad and the in between.

Fathom’s investigations include comprehensive searches of publicly available documents in relevant jurisdictions, including court documents, various public and proprietary databases, and online searches including the deep web.

Our background investigations also analyze and compare records for inconsistencies and misrepresentations, connecting the dots and establishing associations and patterns of behavior that may have relevance. These thorough investigations require real-world experience provided by seasoned investigators.

A proper background investigation will provide a through and comprehensive picture of a research subject through in-depth analysis of unbiased, fact-based information.

Bottom line

We understand there is a bottom line. The question then becomes how much research is enough? It all comes down to the amount of risk an individual or company faces when engaging with a person or business. Should you make a significant investment with an individual who you know nothing about?  Should you hire and train someone that requires significant time and financial investment without considering who they really are? It is ultimately your decision, but a simple background check or Google search probably won’t cut it.

In the end, the amount of risk you face will determine the appropriate process. Done properly, the only news you will get is good news.

About the Author

Pat Fogarty is a former organized crime investigator now leading Internet research and investigations at Fathom Research Group. Read more about Pat.