by Thomas C. Lawson, CFE, CII
At APSCREEN, we are constantly asked why we live in the Stone Age with respect to using paper consent forms and requiring “live” or “wet” signatures on those consents.
While just about every one of my competitors will laugh us off, the proof of our being right about not cutting corners and doing the job right is exemplified in the following legal case:
In addition, we also refer you to the new EEOC Guidance document regarding Background Checks. This link is to a presentation I did decoding these new EEOC guidelines.
These are the definitive cases that address the practice of short-cutting in the name of efficiency that is prevalent within the employment screening industry.
With the cost of doing business continuing to rise, it is somewhat seductive to want to expedite internal processes by eliminating paper wherever possible … but it comes at a price.
If you have ever gone through a Consumer Reporting Agency audit, you know that the auditor will tell you that “unfortunately we cannot accept e-signatures on consent forms for consumer reports.” After which they let you know your access privileges have been revoked.
At APSCREEN we have required a wet signature for every consumer report we have run since 1980.
Because of this strict policy, we believe that neither we, nor any of our clients have ever been sued for improper consent or any other operational violation of the myriad laws surrounding the employment screening concept.
So, how does APSCREEN compare to a Rolex Watch? Well, if you know anything about a Rolex watch, you will know that Rolex does not take a “batch” of their watch movements and certify the batch, ever. They certify each and every watch movement with a COSC certification.
That means that every Rolex watch goes through the rigorous process of independent Swiss Certification in order to be able to reside in a Rolex watch case. It costs more that way, but this process allows Rolex to ensure that every watch it sells is bulletproof and will work at 600 fathoms, or at the top of Mount Everest – undisturbed by external forces.
In today’s automated manufacturing environment, that kind of precision is virtually unheard of but that is why the Rolex watch is the top standard of the world.
This same elite philosophy has been used at APSCREEN for over 32 years. For example, you can’t fake consent, and until someone actually develops a method that undeniably guarantees that an e-signature sent via the web is in fact from the applicant, then we’ll continue to only accept signed consent forms.
In summary, the FCRA Section 613 (a)(2) does not care what the cost of a search is. For example, this law states that the record shall be “complete and up-to-date.” Such is the concept of consent, which under FCRA Section 604, a consumer report for employment purposes may be obtained based on the “consumer’s written consent.”
Nowhere have we ever seen any of the privacy or consumer reporting laws say that an “electronically signed consent” is an acceptable form of consent.
With all of the automation that today’s technology requires, APSCREEN still can’t ignore that the laws affecting employment screening do not address anything other than doing the job properly and getting a real consent.
So, now run out and get a Rolex if you want the best watch possible, and we already think you know who the best choice is for an employment screening company. Don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions.