What Is Unique About Background Checks for Greek New Members?

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

August 14 2023

Greek organization’s brand reputation is a high priority. Time and investment is taken to protect and build a brand image, and one wrong move can land you in the news. As campus crime rises, especially through violence and cybercrime, Greek Letter Organizations are being proactive in taking a multi-faceted approach that aims to mitigate risk every step of the way — from recruiting new members to educating current members. As crime within Greek organizations continues to contribute to issues on campus, more fraternities and sororities have begun to view background screening potential new members as a key part of their safety strategies. However, it’s important for Greek letter organizations to carefully choose the right background screening vendor. Background checks for Greek PNMs are not the same as any other background check, especially background checks for pre-employment purposes. In order to get the most out of background screening, begin with understanding what makes Greek background checks unique.

What Makes Background Checks for Sororities and Fraternities Different?

Most organizations have only one purpose for a background check.  Employers use a background check for pre-employment hiring; landlords’ permissible purpose is tenant screening Background checks for Greek organizations are unique. GLOs screen for a wide scope of purposes. GLOs need to background screen student members, volunteers, board members, house tenants, and staff members. For now, let’s zero in on background checks for potential new members. What’s so different about them, anyway?

1. Reason for Background Screening

While all organizations who background check do it with the goal of safety and reputation in mind, the reasoning behind background screening potential new members is quite different than that of pre-employment background checks.

When employers background check job candidates, it is because they are hiring this person to fulfill a specific role with tasks that will directly impact the performance or output of the organization. They act as a working part of the company, and, in most cases, this means there will be specific legal requirements and liability concerns to take into account.

On the other hand, Greek organizations are not hiring PNMs. Greek members will not be seen as employees under the law, so Greek organizations are typically not required to background check. Fraternities and sororities choose to background screen because they know it’s a good step to mitigate risk within their organizations and protect their reputations. They aim to make sure there are no early warning signs that a student will play a role in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Greek organizations, like sexual misconduct, bullying, alcohol and drug abuse, or racist behavior.

2. Services

Considering the reasons for screening potential new members are not the same as they are for job candidates, this also means background checks for prospective members will have a different set of services. The background screening package for Greek PNMs typically hits the basics of a background check, like a criminal history search, national sex offender search, and SSN Trace.  It will usually leave out services like employment verifications, saving Greek organizations’ time and resources. 

While initiating a background screening program for Greek potential new members, it’s a particularly good idea to add social media screening. This allows you to check prospective members’ social profiles for any evidence of illegal behavior, bigotry, or inappropriate sexual material without discriminating against them based on their appearance or background. Many first-year college students may not have a criminal record yet (or have a juvenile criminal record that’s sealed), so social media is a great place to look for warning signs that the standard background check may have missed.

3. Payment

When background screening for pre-employment, it is customary and sometimes legally required for organizations to pay for the background check. However, this is not the case with organizations like nonprofits or Greek letter organizations. Fraternities and sororities usually have the opportunity to choose whether the member or the organization will pay for the background check. Oftentimes, Greek organizations will elect for the member-pay model because it allows them to protect their organization without absorbing the extra costs. It works by prompting PNMs or volunteers to submit their information and payment for their background check in one go.

4. Design

Greek organizations do not function like any other organization in the way they are laid out. Generally, they are broken down and categorized on several levels, like national, regional, and chapter. This brings complexity to the screening process — one GLO might want volunteers screened at the national level while another wants PNMs to be screened by chapter. To stay organized, it’s a good idea for Greek organizations to work with a background check company that knows how sororities and fraternities work and has systems in place that account for the unique layout. Additionally, organizational branding is a nice bonus feature that some background screening vendors add to their Greek background screening programs. With features that allow Greek letter organizations to customize their homepage with their colors and logos, they keep things consistent, contributing to a great first impression.

A Background Screening Solution as Unique as Your Greek Letter Organization

Ultimately, fraternities and sororities should look out for background screening companies who are aware of what they need to succeed. Taking the easy way out by ordering free background checks from a random site or picking the first background screening vendor who does not offer a unique solution for Greek organizations will often create more trouble than it’s worth.

At InfoMart, we believe that a well thought-out and properly executed background screening solution is a key part of improving the reputations of Greek letter organizations – creating more positive experiences for students on college campuses everywhere. That’s why our FCRA-certified compliance experts worked hard to come up with a Greek background screening solution just as unique as your organization is. With over 30 years of expertise and a dedicated customer service team, we have what it takes to get your Greek organization off to a confident start with your background screening program.

Interested? We’re happy to give you more details and answer any questions. Reach out here or email us anytime!

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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.

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, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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