Employee Background Checks: Guarding Confidential Information

Big Fingerprint Not Needed for Employee Background ChecksAs an employer, you want to ensure you hire the best possible staff especially if you need to adhere to regulatory compliance like HIPAA and FACTA. Employee background checks let you vet information about candidates, including past work history. Some employers also want to see evidence of personal responsibility and other information. However, it’s important to guard confidentiality and avoid putting candidates at risk during the background check process. As an employer, it’s important to know what information you can access and how you should use that information.

Credit Reports & Bankruptcy for Employee Background Checks

Employers with an interest in an applicant’s credit worthiness can ask permission to pull a credit report for the individual. You can also access bankruptcy information without permission, since that’s in the public record. Businesses that involve access to money or electronic funds usually want to see that a person is not in financial duress, which could make them at risk for fraud or theft. After you pull and review credit information to ensure the employee is a good fit for your organization, make sure you protect your future employee or applicant by shredding the information. There’s usually no need to keep such sensitive data in your HR files. If you do keep the information, be sure it is retained in a locked cabinet or storage room.

Medical Records

Strict HIPAA regulations mean that you are unlikely to get access to detailed employee medical records. It’s rare for an employer to require such access. In unique cases that necessitate keeping information on a person’s mental or physical status, employers must comply with HIPAA regulations in guarding that data.

Criminal Records

As an employer, the information you can access about an applicant’s criminal history is regulated by each state. Ensure you have a good understanding of what you’re legally allowed to ask for before continuing with any employee background check process. Once you have the information, keep it confidential and secure via computer systems or locked filing cabinets. Applicant data isn’t fodder for office gossip—there’s no reason for anyone outside the hiring decision channel to know about certain information.

Shred Unneeded Background Paperwork

Once employee background checks are complete, determine how long you need to retain the related paperwork. Once they can be discarded, be sure they are properly shredded. Many companies find that routine shredding — by having locked bins and consoles in strategic locations through the office — ensures that sensitive information remains secure.

Employee background checks are essential for protecting your company. As an employer, though, you have the responsibility to protect confidentiality for applicants. Ensure you know what information is legal to request, and guard that information appropriately upon receipt.