Background checks are done in different situations, but the situations where background checks are mostly used include:
- Hiring a new employee
- Entering a business relationship (often called due diligence)
- Applying for credit or a loan
- Entering into a lease or rental agreement
- Applying to volunteer at a charity or NPO
What are background checks?
Background checks are used to check an individual (and at times a company’s background). You investigate someone’s past and check some credentials to confirm they are who they say they are, due to so much fraud around. And also, to confirm facts that have been shared, for instance:
- You did work at X company over this period
- You did pay back the previous loan
- A person that knows you well can confirm your personal attributes
- Your past does or does not include any criminal activity
Background checks are done to confirm and check a candidate’s history and are a way to confirm what they have shared (or not shared).
What type of background checks are done?
Background checks can range from digging quite deep into someone’s past, usually when they are applying for a specific license, or almost like a check and balance. Examples:
- Credit checks are done to check payment history (do they pay back loans?)
- Criminal checks are done to see if they have been charged with anything from not paying traffic fines, to DUIs (driving under the influence) to more serious activities such as murder
- Fraud checks are used when a person is verified to see if they have committed fraud at a financial institution (i.e. worked for a financial services company, been caught committing a fraudulent offence, and not charged criminally)
- Driver’s license checks confirm they have a driver’s license that is valid and the code is confirmed
- Education verification confirms they really did go to a university or college or received their matric
- References are done when candidates provide contact with people who know them well and who will ‘refer’ them or can talk about their character
- Independent references are when you ask for references without them providing names
- ID verifications confirm they are who they say they are
- Social media checks review all their social media profiles to check if they have publicly said anything potentially harmful for your company
- Psychometrics is a way to dig a bit into the personality of candidates or to confirm their personality traits.
Who does background checks?
Numerous companies do checks. The credit bureaus such as www.transunion.co.za or www.experian.co.za will have credit data. All criminal checks are done through a central database that the South African Police Service updates, but you can go to www.jobcrystal.co.za/backgroundchecks.php for easy, accurate and quick results on a range of checks.
Should I always do a background check?
If you are about to start a business relationship with a person, be it in work, loan, business or if they are going to volunteer but work closely with children or the vulnerable, it is highly recommended that you do some checks and balances. The amount of fraud, lies, and deceit we have seen over the past 12 years has been astounding. Use a professional and accurate verification service/company to do your checks so they remain objective. Often people perform their own checks only to want the results to turn out positive, and do not listen to glaring issues.
Always do your research, and you should avoid being swindled. As they say, ‘it pays to be prepared.’