A case of mistaken identity shows why thorough background checks are so important, the Air Force is now blamed for a deadly shooting, and if you are looking for a job online, beware, scammers have some new tricks. We have the details in today’s EBI Screening News Update.
We’ve talked a lot recently about the proposed rule change in Michigan that would remove personal identifiers like birthdays from public-facing criminal court records. Background screening companies like EBI use this information to confirm people’s identities and make sure the record they are reporting actually belongs to the person they are searching for.
Today, we have a story that proves just how important those identifiers are.
A Connecticut woman has filed a federal lawsuit because a background screening company told her prospective employer that she had an outstanding felony warrant in Texas. But she is not the accused felon! The police are actually looking for another woman who shares her first and last name – and that is all they have in common. Since the screener didn’t check beyond that first and last name, an innocent woman lost her job opportunity.
The case is in federal court because the mistake could be a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires screeners to make sure they have the maximum possible accuracy before reporting negative information.
The U.S. Air Force is being blamed for the 2017 church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The shooter, Devin Kelley, opened fire during a Sunday morning service. He killed 26 people and injured 22 others. He shot himself as he was chased from the scene. But, according to a U.S. District Judge, had the Air Force acted responsibly, Kelley never would have been able to buy the gun used in this horrific crime.
In 2012, Kelley was court martialed for violently attacking his wife and stepson. He was jailed for 12 months and received a bad conduct discharge, but none of this was reported to the FBI to be entered into its databases. Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of certain domestic violence crimes from owning firearms, as well as members of the military who have received a dishonorable discharge. If the information had been available through the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC), Kelley would not have been able to purchase the rifle used at the church.
The federal judge who heard the case, brought by the survivors and victims’ families, says the government is 60% responsible for the tragedy and will be partially liable for any damages that are awarded. The judge also said the government knew more about Kelley’s history and his capacity for violence than even his family did.
In the months after the church shooting, the U.S. Department of Defense rushed to add more than 4,000 names to the FBI’s records in the hopes such a tragedy would not be repeated.
Fake job scams have been around a long time, but the scammers are becoming sneakier in their quest to steal Personally Identifiable Information (PII). According to a press release from the FBI, cybercriminals are not only posting fake job listings, but they are spoofing legitimate company websites and conducting fake interviews.
Victims say the charade has several layers with scammers posing as recruiters, personnel from HR, talent acquisition, and managers from different departments. They lure job seekers into an “interview,” and then the requests begin.
These so-called “employers” ask applicants to sign agreements that require they share their Social Security Numbers or other sensitive information, or they are told they must give a credit card number to pay for their background check upfront, or even to buy start-up equipment from the company. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) job applicants lost more than $59 million to these scammers in 2020 alone.
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to remember that reputable companies will only ask for PII for payroll purposes, and they will only do that AFTER you are officially hired.
Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.