Hiring? Avoid Free Criminal Background Checks for Employment

criminal background check free for employment

One of the most significant financial impacts organizations face is hiring. Many times, employers may try to save on expenses associated with onboarding and training by using websites offering free criminal background checks for employment. The allure of saving money on this part of the hiring process may be tempting, but it can cost you more in the long run.

The reliability of these companies to thoroughly check all available databases for criminal history and related court records is highly unlikely due to imposed access requirements. The temptation to use what appears to be free criminal background checks for employment decisions is hard to resist. It’s critical to understand the quality and reliability differences between these so-called free screening services and accredited third-party providers.

Top Reasons Free Background Checks for Employment Aren’t Worth It

If your company is looking for the most cost-effective method for conducting employment-related criminal background checks, free options generally don’t provide the detail you need to make a smart hiring choice. Using a screening service like Pre-employ that has accreditation through the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) ensures that mandatory compliance regulations get met and that the information you receive is accurate and up-to-date from trustworthy sources.

In addition to these reasons for not using free criminal background checks for employment sites, there are many risks associated with trusting these services for your screening needs, including:

Automated Searches Without Oversight

The majority of free criminal background checks for employment services are completely automated with no human oversight. They use an algorithm that searches for your search parameters, which are often just the name, age, and general location of your employee’s residence. Part of the reason these searches are free is that these types of services don’t have any actual human beings examining the report before sending the results back to you.

This is a risky situation since algorithms may not be able to tell the difference between the Jane Doe sitting in front of you and three others that live in her neighborhood. If you see criminal history records that do not pertain to your employee and base a hiring decision off that flawed data, it could lead to a lawsuit for unfair practices. That type of mistake makes the cost of that free report, not such a great deal.

Minimal Database Access

Using free criminal background checks for employment decisions means you are making decisions on public information sources that are only digitally available or don’t require credentials to access, like those of a court website. Professional screening services that require a reasonable fee have the manpower to perform exhaustive investigations and get access to both digital and non-digital criminal record histories. You won’t receive a comprehensive check from free screening services because, again, they do not have actual people overseeing and accessing these types of records.

There is No One to Hold Accountable

Free criminal background checks for employment are frequently full of mistakes. It may pull records from someone else with a similar name and add derogatory information unfairly to your employee, who then disputes the data you received. When this happens, you would hold the screening provider accountable, but this doesn’t happen with a free check.

When you pay for a quality service like Pre-employ to conduct criminal history checks, you can count on any disputed results being investigated and verified at no additional cost. Using a freebie will put you on the hot seat to make things right.

Also remember that things can go wrong with background checks. For instance, the results returned could be disputed. In such cases, whoever conducted the background check needs to be held accountable.

Legal Compliance May Not Be Possible

Federal, state, and local laws dictate what kind of information you can use when making a hiring decision, as well as requiring certain levels of licensing or accreditation to access that data. This makes free criminal background checks for employment a legal minefield for companies hoping to save on their onboarding costs. 

Complying with industry regulations and the law is of critical importance, and failure to do so can cost you more than the nominal charge a professional screening company would charge. Background check providers like Pre-employ take these requirements seriously so that you don’t have to worry about the information we return on your screening requests. All of our team members are Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliant, and we even offer guidance when making an adverse hiring decision. Free screening services can’t provide that level of security.

One of the most important compliance rules that many of these free criminal background checks for employment services fail to follow is obtaining written authorization from researched individuals. This is a mandatory component of the FCRA and could open you up to a lawsuit for violating it. A legitimate background check company is going to insist you complete this step, along with any other regulations that would apply to your type of criminal history search.

Compliant Criminal Background Check Services You Can Trust

Before you make the mistake of relying on reports from free criminal background checks for employment, reconsider using a premium criminal background checking service like Pre-employ. Not only do we make this process simple and straightforward, but you also don’t run the risk of sacrificing reliability or accuracy in your results. 

While we use advanced technological software in an automated and intuitively designed experience, our team verifies and drills down on your results to make sure you get the most accurate data. Even better, Pre-employ utilizes databases in all 50 states, including federal and local records, that free services can’t access. 

While there are numerous free alternatives, you won’t get the same level of access to such data. Further, only Pre-employ offers an unwavering focus on superior customer support and excellent applicant experiences backed by a 100% US-based service and support team. 

Request a quote today to learn more about our employment screening solutions.

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