The issues with continuous background checks

Background vendors are promoting what they call continuous background checks. But, what exactly is this service? It isn’t what the name implies.

The only true criminal record search is conducted through a primary source, either through a state agency such as the state police on a statewide basis or directly through an individual criminal court. Continuous background checks are not actually conducted through a state agency or through an individual criminal court. It would be to costs prohibitive to conduct ongoing criminal record checks through every state agency or individual County courts.

The background investigation industry uses a term, Artificial Intelligence, to describe their criminal research processes. However, it is neither artificial nor intelligent. Software programs and bots scrape the Internet and public sources to gather arrest and criminal records and compile a huge database of information that is often  called a National Criminal Database. This database is stale in that data is only updated periodically and often has limited personal information to match a record with your employees. Since this is considered to be stored data by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, additional steps must be taken to confirm any records developed through a continuous background check must be confirmed through a primary source such as the State Police or criminal court in the jurisdiction where the record was found to confirm the record belongs to your employee.

The database used for the continuous background checks has huge holes in record data collection that provides a false sense of security. In many states such as New Jersey, New York, and California, very limited criminal record information will be available. As a result, your employee could come back with a no match when in fact they actually have a record.

The continuous background check is a misleading term and employer should be cautioned that this search is limited and will not always develop a record if your employee has been involved in a crime while employed with your company.