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The importance of background checks

You need to be able to trust any person in your organization who works or volunteers with children, the elderly, other vulnerable people, money or transportation. While interviews, applications and references are important indicators of whether that person can, indeed, be trusted, you can’t forget background checks.

All of the above employees or volunteers should have criminal background checks not only when they first come on board, but also every year thereafter. You never know when someone will be involved in a criminal case or other risky behavior.

Why are background checks so important? There are many reasons why your organization would want to run background checks on employees and volunteers, including:

  • Protecting children – Convicted sex offenders and others with certain criminal histories should not be working with children, and a background check reduces your risk of bringing one on board.
  • Preventing theft – Anyone who has been convicted of theft or embezzlement should not be handling your money.
  • Staying safe on the road – Motor vehicle records (MVR), which can be obtained through your state’s department of transportation or a third-party background check provider, can tell you whether the people driving your vehicles have any history of violations, accidents or concerning driving behaviors.
  • Showing you are taking steps to prevent criminal activity at your organization – If the unthinkable should happen and one of your employees commits a crime or injures a member or guest, your efforts to investigate and screen their past may help to limit the organization’s liability.

Types of background checks

There are several different kinds of background checks available. Depending on the type of job your volunteer or employee will be doing, you may want to run just a few or all of them. Types include:

  • Criminal history, including sex offender registry.
  • Employment verification.
  • Education verification.
  • Credit history.
  • Motor vehicle record (MVR).

The following are a few commonly asked questions about background checks:

Do you need a person’s permission to perform a background check? Yes, you should always obtain signed authorization for a check in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

How do we access criminal records? Is there a central location? No. There are thousands of state and federal courthouses in the United States, and each of these courthouses maintains its own database of criminal records.

Short of calling the courthouses one by one, how can we do a quick check? The best way is to hire an outside company to perform your background check. Church Mutual offers customers the opportunity for discounted background checks through its relationship with Trusted Employees.

For additional resources please visit our safety resources page for background checks.