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Vulnerable Individual Affected When Caregiver Site Fails to Provide Accurate Data

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP
March 3 2016
My 94-year-old great-aunt suffers from Alzheimer’s. While she still paints, kayaks, and does tai-chi, she also requires full-time care to keep her on track. Our family used a major online caretaker placement service to conveniently search for candidates and soon found someone whose skills, availability, and demeanor seemed to be the right match. According to the site, a background check had already been conducted on the caregiver.

The background check provided to us did not indicate that the candidate had any kind of criminal record. That would be good news — if I didn’t know anything about background reports. I knew that their preliminary screen, as they disclose on their site, pulls from a database. The nature of database searches prevents the criminal history data from being up-to-date and accurate, which means they could be missing significant records. Candidates and/or families looking for caregivers had to pay extra for a full background check.

With nearly 17 years’ experience as a background screening professional, I know all too well how important background checks can be in making a placement decision. We opted to run a full criminal history search through InfoMart rather than through the placement service’s providers, and made the candidate a contingent offer. I hoped a check conducted by our team of trusted experts would ease any concerns we had. It didn’t.

When I saw the candidate’s consent form, I was pretty sure that something was wrong. She spelled her name differently in print and signature, added a bit of a loop to a digit of her date of birth, and overall provided a hard-to-read form. So when the National Social Security Search (NSSS) didn’t match her name, I wasn’t surprised.

InfoMart searched jurisdictions based on the candidate’s residence history and, rather than relying solely on her supplied name and date of birth, the team checked multiple variations of both identifiers.

On day 2 of the background check, a member of our criminal department management team came to me with the news: she had several recent fraud and theft-related convictions. She provided us with a falsified Social Security number and date of birth. The candidate even neglected to provide her actual first name.

My heart dropped. She was already working in the home. Other criminal convictions may not have mattered, but in my aunt’s condition she is easily confused and misled. She would have been the perfect target for someone prone to theft and fraud.

We took precautionary measures with her finances and let the caregiver go. No harm was done. We found another caregiver. After receiving a clean InfoMart background check, she began work. My aunt loves her.

 

Agencies that Place Workers with Vulnerable Populations Should Be Held to a Higher Standard

How many childcare and caregiver providers are allowing applicants with criminal records to slip through a background check by failing to properly collect and verify information? How often do criminals provide false information on purpose and get away with hiding their criminal records? How do such placement agencies get away with conducting the weakest due diligence as a default for providing services to vulnerable populations?

The caretaker placement service’s background check may have missed these fully reportable convictions for a number of reasons:

  • They only ran a database search
  • They didn’t verify records with the originating court
  • She gave them bogus info like she gave us (name was misspelled, DOB was off by a day, SSN incorrect)
  • No human checked the background report for quality and/or accuracy

These types of database searches, provided by agencies seeking to fulfill caregiver and child care needs, are a great complement to standard court-based searches, but are inadequate as a sole means of screening. Such online placement services encourage families to run additional backgrounds and provide the opportunity to order them via their site. But neither the caregivers nor the families seeking their services are required to run comprehensive criminal searches, motor vehicle reports, drug tests, license verifications, employment verifications, or other screening components that might help make an informed placement decision.

The best background check report you can get is one that verifies all reported and/or database information with the originating source. I talk to customers about the importance of this kind of thorough background screening every day of my life. And while I’m still beyond uneasy at the thought of someone taking advantage of my family, this has been a great reminder about why I believe in what we do.

Get the Whole Story with InfoMart’s Healthcare Industry Trends Report

Do you know:

  • Healthcare has one of the highest rates of fraud?
  • What percent of applicants have a criminal history?
  • How hit rates have changed over the past ten years?

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit www.tammycohen.com.

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit www.InfoMart-USA.com, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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