Can I see what they see?
February 20, 2010 5:24 PM   Subscribe

What background search companies do big employers use?

I'd like to see what employers see when they run a background check on me. But I am unsure what companies are common for employee background checks.

So...what I'd like to know is...who are the main players in the background check business? The Coca-Cola's and Pepsi's of snooping. How can I best approximate what an employer will see if they run one on me.

From what I understand...there are different levels of background check....the types of jobs I go for *might* ask for 'level 2' type stuff, but the basic 'level 1' type search might be adequate to the employers needs.

Have you ever run one on yourself? Tips?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My company uses Foley Services There's a pretty good rundown of what they offer here -- what reports are actually run depend on the position the candidate's been offered.
posted by ThatSomething at 5:30 PM on February 20, 2010

In the UK powerchex is pretty common, especially for financial services in the City.
posted by modernnomad at 5:35 PM on February 20, 2010

Actually, if you get denied for a job, they'll be required to provide a copy of the background check under the fair credit reporting act.
posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on February 20, 2010

My company uses Kroll. In CA they're legally required to provide you with a copy of your background check if you ask for it, so I know exactly what's in mine.

I'm a software engineer at a large company. What's in mine is my credit history, which includes where I've lived and lines of credit I've taken out; my criminal record; in addition, they called up the employers and schools I'd listed and verified that I'd worked there/studied there for roughly the dates I gave them and with the titles I listed. They also verified with my previous job what my title and wage was. I didn't have to provide them with contact info for any of my jobs or schools - they found it themselves and called them up. Interestingly, the school where I'm currently earning an MS refused to verify anything other than that I had taken classes there, which I thought was odd.

I don't have a criminal record other than one speeding ticket 2+ years ago which I assume has fallen off the reports by now, so I can't tell you exactly what kinds of criminal files they're pulling up.
posted by crinklebat at 6:04 PM on February 20, 2010

LexisNexis, formerly known as ChoicePoint, is one of the bigger players in background checks.

Quest Diagnostics performs drug testing.

Ordering a credit report for yourself will provide a lot of the data that they will see.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 6:17 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I used to work for the hedge-fund due diligence division of a major "business solutions" type company that also does a ton of employee background checks. When performing investigations on hedge fund managers we'd often utilize many of the same tools as our background checking colleagues, and even occasionally perform checks ourselves for clients that we had particularly close relationships with.

The searches that we'd perform generally involved a wide range of information, including (but not limited to): litigation and criminal records, property and vehicle registrations, past employment and education verification (including actually calling old employers and alma maters to confirm that you actually were there when you said you were; you'd be amazed at how often hedge fund managers lie about stuff like this), extensive news and financial reporting database searches, credit checks, occasional interviews with former colleagues or other 'persons of interest,' and a smattering of other miscellaneous database searches (liens, family indexes, etc.). The quality of searches varies immensely between companies; ours tended to be quite a bit more in depth than some of our competitors'.

I can tell you this much: if you have the pleasure of being researched by my former employer, and you've got any suspicious blemishes in any of the above-mentioned categories, you're well nigh fucked my friend.
posted by saladin at 6:20 PM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

KPMG uses

RESEARCH ASSOCIATES, INC. Worldwide Investigative Excellence Since 1953
27999 Clemens Road - Cleveland, Ohio 44145-1141
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:47 PM on February 20, 2010

ChoicePoint is huge, and does background checks for many large companies and government organizations. As mentioned above, they were bought out a few years ago for multiple billions by Reed-Elsevier, who also owns LexisNexis.
posted by sophist at 12:29 AM on February 21, 2010

I've worked in HR for a Canadian company. I sent all my shortlisted resumes to a checking service in Vancouver; they gave me criminal records, checked all references, called all former employers, and verified schooling.

They would try for up to 2 weeks to obtain all the info.

What was great about this particular service is they would grade the resumes for me; completely and factually, verifiably accurate got an A; if most things checked out but some things weren't verifiable (shut down company, old supervisors left, etc.) they got a B; if anything was inaccurate they'd scale it C through F depending on the severity. I/f they had any sort of criminal record they'd get a little red flag at the top.

I normally never looked at the reports themselves. I just discarded out-of-hand anything that didn't score A or B; I don't particularly care what your past is, I just care how honest you are. Honesty I can work with.
posted by weasel at 2:10 PM on February 21, 2010

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