Attorneys go After Bad Background Checks

Dear readers: I came across this email pasted below and thought it is something you all should be aware of.

Just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water, here is what I predict to be the first in a new area of Plaintiff’s pursuits:

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Law Offices of Devin H. Fok

Employment and Background Remedies

We represent people with criminal history who have been wrongfully denied employment with a California employer (or housing facility) due to a background check report. You will be entitled to a minimum of $10,000 if you have lost a job (or housing where applicable) due to:

1. A background check report that reported arrests not leading to conviction.

2. A background check report that reported crimes that have been expunged.

3. A background check report that reported crimes that are older than 7 years old.

4. A background check report that reported adverse driving history that are older than 7 years old.

5. A background check report that misreported a crime for which you were never charged.

6. A background check report that misreported the seriousness of the crime (i.e., misdemeanor reported as felony).

7. You were denied employment due to minor crimes that are not relevant to the job to be performed.

8. The employer failed to give you an opportunity to give you a copy of the background check report or an opportunity to dispute the information on the background check report.

9. A background check report that reported convictions for which you have successfully completed post conviction diversion or minor marijuana convictions that are older than 2 years old.

If you have received a copy of the background check report within the last 2 years that falls into one of the above categories, please scan and email the report tous for free evaluation and consultation. Your information will be kept strictly confidential. We will give you a response within 48 hours.

Our fees are 100% contingency. We do not charge unless you get paid.

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How to Use Social Security Number Traces for Employment Screening

Social Security Number (SSN) verification is one method that is used for employment screening purposes because it allows employers to verify the information submitted by a prospect employee with official Social Security records, as well as other information sources.

It is most effectively used in concert with other methods of Positive Candidate Identification, in order to assist the decision-maker in determining if the applicant has been truthful and forthcoming in the presentation of their full and/or alias names, prior addresses, and prior experience.

A social security trace obtained from multiple sources. Never rely on one source for this, as the sources vary in depth of reporting, update status, and in the case of the information coming from the SSA, directly, the extent of RELATED information, which can only be cross-attributed by proprietary providers of wide-spectrum identification information.  Identifying the candidate is the most vital first step in conducting employment background checks. It verifies a candidate’s:

-Social Security Number as legitimate,
-past and present addresses, as well as
-possible aliases or maiden names used

This search also establishes the time frame of when the social SSN was issued and put into use. These identity searches verify that the social security number (SSN) is valid; in what state it is issued, as well as whether or not to is actually registered to your candidate.

A SSN trace, combined with companion identity searches, such as driver histories and other private, semi-private and public record searches, is essential for uncovering a candidate’s possible criminal record(s).

These identity searches also reveal your candidate’s documented residence history and tells you where to search for criminal records.  In many cases competent identity searches, combined with wide area, proprietary criminal index lead generators can even identify criminal activity in areas that the subject did not reside in, a valuable tool for “hit and run” criminal acts.

Restrictions on Use

Company policy concerning the use of Identification products should be applied consistently to all workers; for example:

-If used for newly hired workers, verify information on all newly hired workers.
-If used to verify information on other workers in your database, verify the information for all workers in the entire database.

The Ultimate Guide to Locating Lost Benefit Plan Participants

by Thomas C. Lawson, CFE, CII

Benefit plan administrators in-house or third-party administrators, often need to locate people who terminate employment without leaving a forwarding address and have benefits due from a qualified plan.

By law, these companies must perform due diligence in attempting to locate a lost plan participant in order to meet ERISA, GATT, IRS requirements. Unfortunately, the IRS does not publish specific guidelines as to what constitutes a diligent search. However, there are several options available to you for locating lost participants that are described below:

Internet-Based Locator Services

This method is probably the easiest, fastest and most effective way to locate missing participants and doesn’t require you to have a working knowledge of the internet. It saves you time and money, and by far the best provider for this service is EmployeeLocator.com. You can get results within one day for $10 a name. It doesn’t get any simpler!

If you are determined to spend your own time hunting down a current address for your person, here are some of the options available:

1. Surf the internet: Try websites like www.four11.com, www.bigfoot.com, www.anywho.com, www.whowhere.com, and www.infospace.com

2. Check your plan or employer records for updated addresses:

-Mail a letter to the last known address that you have and see if they contact you.  You might get lucky and the letter gets forwarded to the right person.

-If you know the area they moved to, try directory assistance there.

-Check personnel files to see if they have contacted you for a missing W-2.

-Ask current employees to help you locate the missing person. Post the names on the employee bulletin board.

-Look at the person’s work application and contact the emergency or business references.

-Check the participant’s beneficiary designation form and contact the beneficiary.

-If they were married, contact the spouse or if possible, friends and relatives.

3. Check with other companies in the loop where privacy concerns are not an issue:

-You can contact the subsequent employer to see if they are still working there.

-If the missing person is a member of a professional association; try contacting them through the association.

-If they filed a claim for health benefits, the spouse’s employer maybe been listed on the insurance claim forms.

4. Use of the IRS & SSA’s letter-forwarding services:

IRS Lost Participant Locator Program

The IRS administers a letter-forwarding program that helps you locate missing retirement plan participants. You must submit a request to the IRS via mail and provide the following information:

-A brief explanation why you need to use the program (for example, to locate a missing plan participant is sufficient);

-The name(s) of the missing individual(s);

-The social security number(s) (SSN) of the missing individuals. The SSN is the key element used to access the right tax account and get a mailing address.  The request cannot be processed if a SSN is not furnished; and

-The actual letter that is being forwarded.

A separate letter should be addressed to each participant involved and it should include a statement asking the participant to contact the plan administrator directly.

Once the IRS gets your request, and if an address is found in their databases for this individual, they will then forward your request to the lost plan participant. The IRS lets the individual know that they do not divulge the recipient’s address or any other tax information and that the decision to respond is entirely up to the recipient.

If an address cannot be found, or the letter is returned undeliverable by USPS, the letter is destroyed. Due to disclosure laws, the IRS cannot provide the requester with the results of the request. The law does NOT allow the IRS to provide the sender of this letter with the result of its efforts and response time is based on overall workload of the Officer. The IRS estimates that in 2001 alone, there were requests for nearly 800,000 letters to be forwarded.  Because of the volume of requests, the response time is based on the overall workload of the Disclosure Officer.  Based upon anecdotal information, it is possible that your request for forwarding could take up to a year.

Each request should be sent to the attention of the Disclosure Officer at the Service’s district office nearest the requester (it does not matter where the recipient last resided).  To find the office nearest you, go to www.irs.gov and click on “About the IRS” and then “Contact My Local Office.”

Requests involving 50 or more potential recipients, including multiple requests from a single entity that can be expected to total at least 50 recipients, are processed separate from the free program.  If you need to locate more than 50 people, the fee is $1,750.  Plan sponsors who want to use this program should call the Disclosure Office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 622-3324 for additional information.

Social Security Administration (SSA) Letter Forwarding Program

About 25,000 people ask the SSA for help in locating a missing person each year.  Social Security regulations and federal law protect the privacy of all social security number holders. Social Security will forward a letter only if there is a compelling humanitarian or financial reason and it is reasonable to assume that the missing person would want to be notified. If the missing person receives monthly benefits, Social Security will mail the letter directly.  If the missing person is not receiving benefits, the letter is sent in-care-of the last employer on the missing person’s Social Security earnings record.

Following is the procedure outlined by the SSA to locate a lost participant:

1. Write a letter to the missing individual (be sure to explain whom to contact and where or how to contact you for more information) and place in an unsealed, unstamped envelope bearing the individual’s name and social security number.

2. Prepare a letter to the SSA explaining the circumstances that require you to locate the missing person.  There is a $25.00 charge per letter to cover the cost of a record search and it is payable by cashier’s check or money order.

3. Place both letters and the unsealed, unstamped envelope in a second envelope and take it to your local Social Security Office or mail it to:

Social Security Administration, Wilkes-Barre Data Operations Center
1150 East Mountain Drive
P.O. Box 3150
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18767-3150

Get more information here on Locate Lost Plan Participants

Lawson comments on the EEOC’s declared war on background checks

In the latest barrage of attacks against the Human Resources Management side of American business, the EEOC just levied a $3+ million fine against PepsiCo targeting discrimination in the background check process. 

Here is yet another example of the EEOC singling out major companies to put forth its agenda of constructively terminating American business’s inalienable right to protect itself through the use of background checks.  They have done it this time by using trickery in asserting racial bias in yet another legitimate Human Resources Management practice.

Big players like Pepsi are fair game and make a big splash when pushed overboard, so they are on the EEOC’s radar screen, and Lord help them.

The EEOC has declared war on the background screening industry through this front and several other fronts and the reason is because background checks are a highly effective tool in the eradication of potentially dangerous situations arising in the workplace.  Unfortunately the natural by-product of the use of this successful tool, undesirable people who would otherwise get through the doors of America’s workplaces are being stifled, and rightfully so.

In many cases that means they are not immediately employable in their chosen or desired areas of expertise, and are often being forced to settle for lesser employment, if any is offered to them at all. I guess that means the concept of background checks as a protective tool for American business has been deadly and swiftly proven correct, and the absence of the use of them undeniably has resulted in some pretty heinous crimes against persons, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the EEOC.

What the EEOC fails to see is the value in the background check as a dialog creator between employer and candidate, opting instead to vilify background checks as the highest and best crime prevention tool available to businesses of all sizes, because it gets rid of a problem before it becomes a problem. 

Any HR professional worth their salt will tell you that they do not deny candidacy based on a person’s criminal past, they deny it based on their gut feeling that the person is not yet finished with criminal behavior, and pose a significant risk.  The background check is the tool that creates the dialog, and now, the EEOC wants take that tool away.

If background checks are so bad for the private sector, why does every policeman, nurse, fireman, military service person and government worker (read: EEOC Employees) go through one?  Simple, the government doesn’t want to hire the riff-raff, they want the private sector to deal with it turning off the spotlight, so the rats can invade the pantry.

What the success of a background screening regimen SHOULD spell out to potential job applicants that would be stymied by a prior criminal conviction is the same deterrent that would stifle a criminal under the direct threat of going to jail for committing a crime – if you want to be a producing member of society get a job and join the race, keep your nose clean, follow the rules and respect your fellow citizens.

Sadly, as with the vertically increasing leniency of the courts over the last 30 years, and the skill of and latitude afforded criminal defense attorneys and their clients, that societal element which will always try to get away with crimes are emboldened.

Where these folks once would shy away from a life of crime because of the deterrent effect of things like competent background checks exposing their criminal pasts and guaranteed prison time if you violate society’s rules, they now seek asylum in the liberal concept of forgiveness.

The EEOC wants to canonize this fact by ignoring the adverse effect of a morally deteriorating society, using “turn the other cheek” as its mantra.  Like gun control, where only cops and criminals end up with guns, the ones who want you to turn the other cheek by no longer being able to conduct background checks want that so you are looking in another direction when they do their dirty deeds, and they can now be employed under the EEOC’s model, while doing it.

Of course, what do we expect?  No one enforces the borders, so our country is overrun by illegal aliens who run free and rape and pillage our economy without fear of reprisal all because some politician needed to beat the opposing party to the voting bloc represented by legalizing these most basic of criminals.  Is the microcosm of prison culture so rampant in the halls of those who govern us not so clear that it is no wonder we are fighting a losing battle of the simple concept of doing the right thing?

The EEOC has done exactly the opposite for society in what it purports to assert is making more people hirable by making background checks the villain, and the true effect of their attack is that honest, decent business people will have one less tool in their tool box to protect their customers and their employees from the whims of people of lesser morals, and from those who would create mayhem. The EEOC started their constructive elimination of background checks several years ago by going after employment credit reports, and now criminal conviction histories are in directly in their cross-hairs.

When criminal history reports are outlawed, the American workplace will become a very dangerous place to be.

Sound familiar?  These are the same liberals also want to take away your guns, and leave you with no way to protect yourself, your family and your property from robbers, burglars, rapists and murderers who decide when it is time to violate the sanctity of your home, or attack you in the parking lot of your business, school or shopping mall.

Now the EEOC wants to strip American Business of the very best and most proven way to protect its customers and employees, and keep the wolves away from the front door, namely, a solid background check.

Guess again, EEOC.

Get more information here on Tom Lawson