When working with new or potential clients, they often ask about fingerprinting. Usually, they ask, “We already fingerprint. So why do we need to background check?” We have found some hiring managers believe that fingerprinting is the ultimate solution for background screening. Fingerprinting can provide valuable information on a candidate. However, there are five reasons it is not a complete screening solution.
1: Fingerprinting Data, Out of Date
First, you must know that the burden falls upon the local jurisdictions to update the FBI with their arrest and fingerprint records. However, reporting doesn’t always happen frequently. Furthermore, some states report arrest dispositions as little as twice a year. The FBI doesn’t collect data in real time. Therefore, it easily becomes out of sync with the data from the source: the local jurisdiction.
2: Fingerprinting Reports Are Often Missing Disposition
In most cases, fingerprinting does not identify the disposition — the court’s final determination of the case. It reveals only that an arrest occurred, and not if the case resulted in a guilty or innocent verdict, or sealed or expunged. According to a GAO study, only 20 states provide 75% or more of their arrest records with final disposition to the FBI. Ten states reported 50% or less of their arrests with final dispositions. The National Employment Law Project estimated that 1.8 million workers a year went through FBI fingerprint checks with faulty or incomplete information. Updated, accurate data would have benefited one-third of those workers.
3: Fingerprinting is Not EEOC Compliant
Per EEOC guidelines, knowledge of an arrest alone cannot make a hiring decision. However, many fingerprint records do not include the current or final disposition. This makes those records ineligible for use in hiring decisions. The EEOC guidance notes that people are innocent until proven guilty and an arrest does not indicate guilt. Furthermore, minorities are also arrested at a higher rate. Hence, relying on only arrest data can lead to a disparate impact on protected classes.
4: The Fingerprint Database Not Meant for Background Screening
According to former Attorney General Eric Holder, the purpose of the FBI database is to aid law enforcement during investigations. It “was not designed to determine whether or not someone is eligible for a work opportunity. Relying on it for that purpose is both unwise and unfair.” A Department of Justice Report on background screening stated that “it is generally acknowledged that the state repository criminal history records are more complete than the records held at the FBI.” Users “may also want to check other record sources, such as commercial databases and local courthouses to obtain more complete and up-to-date information.”
5: Not All Arrests and Crimes Have Fingerprints
Law enforcement officials frequently ‘cite and release’ individuals without formally arresting and fingerprinting them. This practice results in dispositions in a state’s records repository. That without a matching set of prints or arrest record. A state official cited in a GAO study noted their cite-and-release practices “contributed to approximately 1.6 million dispositions unlinked to an arrest. However, those, the state keeps in an independent data system.” Therefore, accessing these records can only occur by ordering reports from the local jurisdiction, and not through the FBI fingerprint database.
Professional Background Screening is a Complete Solution
Fingerprint background checks are about risk management and protection. Are you taking some steps to protect your company by screening your applicants? Then consider finishing the journey by adding professional background screening. A thorough background search will utilize a variety of resources. Furthermore, they include private nationwide criminal databases, a Social Security address trace, and county or state jurisdictional records.
Working with a professional background screening provider means your company has protection via the FCRA, the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Under the FCRA, background screening companies must meet tight standards. They include ensuring the verification of all reported records as belonging to the candidate. They validate records at the source to give the most up-to-date information available. Finally, in addition to those protections, Verified First only reports data legally allowable to use when making hiring decisions. Thus, they protect you from seeing the information that you can’t use.
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This article is courtesy of our partner, Verified First. Contact Verified First today to learn how you can simplify your hiring process with integrated background screening.