Press Release: CARCO’S CEO invited to serve as Member representing the interests of NMVTIS technology partners on the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s NMVTIS Advisory Board.

HOLTSVILLE, NY (May 21, 2010) – CARCO Group, Inc. is honored to announce that James Owens, CARCO’s CEO, has been invited by Jim Burch, Acting Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, to serve as a Member representing the interests of NMVTIS technology partners on the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s NMVTIS Advisory Board.

In an effort to combat automobile theft and fraud and provide consumer protection, the national Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) was established by the Anti Car theft Act of 1992. NMVTIS is an electronic system designed to protect consumers from fraud and unsafe vehicles and to keep stolen vehicles from being resold. The system also assists states and law enforcement in deterring, investigating, and preventing title fraud and other crimes.

The NMVTIS Advisory Board’s objective is to provide critical input and key recommendations to BJA’s leadership regarding the effective and efficient administration of the NMVTIS program.

Through its CheckThatVIN.com service, CARCO provides consumers with access to NMVTIS to obtain a detailed state record on a vehicle they are seeking to purchase. This allows consumers to make well-informed decisions.

Background information about NMVTIS is available on the U.S. Department of Justice’s NMVTIS Web site at www.NMVTIS.gov.  For more information on CARCO Group’s NMVTIS service, please visit www.carcogroup.com or CheckThatVIN.com.

YOU FUDGED YOUR RESUME?? SAY IT AIN’T SO!!

By Doreen Koronios

According to a recent SHRM poll, 64% of HR professionals reported that during background reference checks, inaccurate dates of previous employment, as provided by employees, had the most impact on their decision to NOT extend an offer.

Why do employers conduct background checks?  The answer is to ensure that they are hiring the right person for the right job. Employers also want to make sure that what they are getting in an employee is what they were promised.  That’s why it’s so important to not embellish your resume. While you might think you are “enhancing” or “polishing” your resume, HR managers call it outright lying.  And you can be sure that you will be caught, especially since nine out of ten large companies conduct thorough background checks on all applicants. You would be surprised at the depth and breadth of information that can be turned up in an employment verification check.

If you had a spotty record with a previous employer(s), instead of leaving that company off of your resume and “rearranging” employment dates, it’s best to list the company and focus on your strengths and achievements pertaining to that job. If you feel you do not have all of the qualifications for the job you are applying for, don’t lie and pretend you have those skills.  It’s best to discuss related skills and how they can be used. Gaps in employment history worry employers. They don’t know what caused the gaps – college, time off to raise the kids, prison, fired from a job.  There are a host of reasons.  Be ready to discuss your reasons honestly with a potential employer.

But if you decide to lie, be ready for the snow ball effect.  Once you lie on your resume, you will have to lie in the interview as you discuss your prior work experience. If you get past the HR manager and have a second interview with the department head, you will have to continue that lie.  As you start discussing the nitty gritty of the job, you will eventually slip up and the department head will know you don’t have the work experience you claim to have.  And even if you are able to win over the department head, your pre employment background check will surely uncover your true work experience through employment history and reference checks.

In the end, you will be embarrassed and jobless!  Not a good place to be. And what about the damage to your reputation in your industry?  There’s always that “inner circle” of people who discuss what’s going on in the industry. How do you recover when your colleagues realize that you lied about your qualifications?

The moral of this story is that it’s always best to be truthful on your resume. Focus on your strengths and achievements and how they will benefit the company you are applying to. Spend your energy learning everything you can about that company and how you can be an asset instead of wasting energy on thinking up ways to embellish your work record. Be honest on your resume and be proud of your achievements.  You worked hard for them! And don’t forget, most companies conduct thorough background checks and will find anything that you lie about.

News Flash: FMCSA launches pre-employment screening program

As of May 11, 2010, “commercial carriers will have an essential tool for making informed hiring decisions that will lead to safer drivers on our roads,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “The Pre-Employment Screening Program raises the safety bar for the motor carrier industry and helps to make our roads safer for everyone.”

The Trucker News Services

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today launched its Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), which allows commercial motor carrier companies to electronically access driver inspection and crash records as a part of the hiring process.

“The Pre-Employment Screening Program sends a strong message to commercial carriers and drivers that we are serious about having the safest drivers behind the wheel of large trucks and buses,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“Starting today, commercial carriers will have an essential tool for making informed hiring decisions that will lead to safer drivers on our roads,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “The Pre-Employment Screening Program raises the safety bar for the motor carrier industry and helps to make our roads safer for everyone.”

The Pre-Employment Screening Program offers access to up to five years of driver crash data and three years of inspection data regardless of the state or jurisdiction. By using driver safety information during pre-employment screening, commercial carriers will be able to better assess the potential safety risks of prospective driver-employees. PSP also gives drivers additional opportunities to verify the data in their driving history and correct any discrepancies.  A driver’s records will be protected in accordance with federal privacy laws.

The Pre-Employment Screening Program is populated monthly by FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). The MCMIS is comprised of driver performance data including inspection and compliance review results, enforcement data, state-reported crashes, and motor carrier census data.

For complete details on the Pre-Employment Screening Program’s fees for driver safety records and how carriers and drivers can participate, visit http://www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Resume Verification – Don’t Be Fooled By A Smooth Talker

By Doreen Koronios

It’s a well known fact that some people lie on their resumes. There are plenty of statistics around that show the percentages.  Some people embellish a little, some embellish a lot, and some outright lie. Most of the time, that lie is about their education. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, one in four candidates misrepresents his or her educational attainment.  If someone lies on their resume, how can you trust them as an employee?

I can remember several years ago a company I was working for at the time was in the process of hiring a new sales director. The frontrunner appeared to be a polished professional with a great resume, which indicated that he had a Bachelors degree from a known university. However, during our background screening process, we could not verify his education.  We decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and asked him if there was an issue we needed to know about.  He gave us some kind of random excuse – something about a mix up of his records – and insisted that he did have the degree and would bring it to us for our files.  Now, he knew full well that we were conducting a thorough background check on him and would eventually find out if he was lying, but he seemed sincere and all his other credentials seemed right for the job.  So we hired him with the contingency that he would bring us a copy of his degree.  Over the next several months he was asked to bring in his degree and he always had an excuse.  His ultimate excuse was that it was in storage in his mother’s attic (I’m not making this up) in a town that was about an hour away from his home.  Of course, by now, we all suspected that maybe he really didn’t have a degree at all. We finally pinned him down to a date to produce the degree or he would be let go.  He insisted in an agitated manner that on Monday he would have the degree for us as he stormed out of the office on a Friday afternoon.  Well, on Monday, he came in and announced that he drove to his mother’s house over the weekend and found his degree (which he never produced for us to see) and then promptly quit!

The moral of this story is that you can never tell who will lie on his or her resume. Here was a guy who was well dressed, well spoken and well experienced in the field we were hiring for.  He was very straightforward when describing his education and degree and, all the while, he was lying.  But he had such a charismatic personality (always a plus for a sales director) that we decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Then, as we tried to verify his education, he put us on the defensive that it must be something we did wrong because he certainly had that degree (in his mom’s attic). And when he was finally “cornered” he quit in a huff because he could not work for a company that did not believe him!  All the while, never producing the degree.

In March 2010, NBC Miami reported that the chief information technology security director of Miami’s largest healthcare provider, Jackson Health Systems, lied on his resume about his college degree.  He was hired for a $133,000 a year job that he wasn’t qualified to have. He also receives an annual $5,000 bonus for being part of the management team. In the meantime, Jackson Health Systems is on the verge of going under.

Stories like these are plentiful. That is why your HR department must thoroughly vet every applicant.  In the current economic environment with so many people out of work, it is more important than ever to conduct credential verifications.  In desperate times some people will do desperate things – like lying on their resumes.

Fake diplomas are also used to misrepresent an applicant’s educational attainment.  A quick Google search produces several online diploma mills that are happy to provide the “highest quality custom replicated diplomas” from any learning institution.   The selling companies, which usually hide behind anonymous offshore Web addresses, are part of a growing number of Internet sites where people can buy phony credentials from real schools, including Harvard University. You can even hire a service that claims it will verify a fake degree.

The ramifications of hiring someone who has lied on his or her resume are many.  Your company has allocated time and money to hire this applicant and potentially rejected a candidate that was truly qualified for the position.   Bad hires also increase employee turnover, which is costly to a company. But most importantly, without verifying the applicant’s credentials, you risk hiring someone who is not truly qualified for the job, which can ultimately jeopardize your relationship with clients and hurt your bottom line.

For information on how CARCO Group, Inc. can help your company make the best hiring decisions, please visit www.carcogroup.com or call 866-557-5984.

Information on the HIRE Act

The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act is a new law that exempts businesses that hire “qualified individuals” from paying the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax through Dec. 31. The law grants an additional tax credit of $1,000 or 6.2% of wages, whichever is less, if new workers stay on the job for 52 consecutive weeks.

President Obama signed the HIRE Act on March 18, 2010. This new $17.5 billion legislation is of particular interest to businesses as it includes new tax benefits directly related to hiring employees and writing off investments in equipment.

The new tax incentives for businesses to hire unemployed workers:

  • payroll tax exemption of the employers share of Social Security taxes on wages paid to these workers after March 18, 2010.
  • employer tax credit of up to $1,000 per worker

The new employees must meet these criteria in order to qualify for the business tax credits.

  • hired between Feb 3, 2010 & Jan 1, 2011
  • newly-hired employee was unemployed during the 60 days prior to starting work, or worked fewer than 40 hours for someone else during the 60 day period

Household employers are not eligible for the new tax benefits.

The HIRE Act is aimed at providing hiring incentives to restore some of the jobs lost in the latest economic recession. The goal is to help put Americans back to work as soon as possible. Business owners that hire qualifying workers sooner rather than later will get the most out of the tax credits, as the tax credits diminish over time, disappearing completely by January 1, 2011.

This federal jobs bill also permits small business owners to write off equipment investments of up to $250,000 this year, instead of taking years to depreciate. This in a doubling of the previous amount of $125,000. This will provide tax incentives for small businesses to grow while stimulating the economy with their investment spend.

President Obama’s job creation bill also includes provisions for putting people to work by reforming municipal bonds. Build America Bonds will allow the money to be spent on construction & repair of public projects like schools, highway and transit programs, as well as green and clean energy conservation projects like wind turbines and solar energy devices. Some of this money comes from moving $20 billion into the highway trust fund.

For more information on the HIRE ACT, please visit http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=220326,00.html

The New HR Department

By Doreen Koronios

When the dust settles as the economic recovery slowly continues, what will be the new function of the forever changed HR department?  Those in the know realize that the newly evolved HR practitioners will now be more of strategic partners to their organizations rather than being just in the “people business”. The new role means integrating people strategies with business strategies in an effective way to move the company forward and add to the company’s bottom line.

Besides handling the traditional HR functions of hiring, handling benefits, and being the keepers of policies and procedures, HR managers need to transition into contributing to accomplishing organizational goals and objectives.  In this role, the HR manager must thoroughly know the business, its customers and its products in order to create the right work positions and work environment, and hire the right employees with the competence and commitment to service the clients well. A recent article in Harvard Business School’s BNET states that HR must play an active and guiding role in enabling the company to choose its people well, invest in them, support their growth and respect their needs, while fostering innovations needed to achieve the strategic business objectives. This vital role requires competence in coaching leaders in behaviors that will create and sustain a flexible and adaptive workforce, and in innovating at the accelerated rate of change of a global post-industrial economy.

While the HR practitioner is busy being a strategic business partner in an already downsized division, what happens to the traditional HR duties of hiring and on boarding personnel?  How about a non-traditional form of “outsourcing” these processes by using self-service technology offered by third-party providers of Human Resources solutions! HR departments can streamline processes using the third-party provider’s technology and offerings while maintaining in-house control by accessing offerings via self-service online platforms. This option is a smart one for HR practitioners who want to keep the traditional functions in-house, yet are in need of an efficient way to eliminate the time consuming and error prone paper-based processes.

Simply put, technology that streamlines the background screening and hiring processes can lead to more informed hiring decisions, which should ultimately put the right person in the right job thereby reducing turnover and costs. An effective on boarding solution allows applicants to enter their information and credentials directly into an online application or kiosk, thus eliminating the data entry time. This improves the productivity of the HR department by freeing employees to focus on other tasks like helping to grow the business. It also reduces time lost chasing down errors now caught in real-time through predefined validated fields. In addition, a self-service solution enables the HR department to manage the new hire process and documents more efficiently by not only storing those documents electronically, but also by presenting forms to be signed when needed and as needed in a logical workflow.  This streamlined approach ensures legal compliance as well as productivity and profitability. It’s a win-win for the busy HR practitioner!

For more information on how CARCO’s Onboarding Solution can help you streamline your processes so you can focus on the challenges of being a strong strategic partner to your organization, please visit www.carcogroup.com or email us a sales@carcogroup.com.

Utah Enacts Universal Mandatory E-Verify Bill

By Doreen Koronios

On April 1, 2010, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill into law requiring Utah employers to use E-Verify to ensure they are hiring legal workers.  Utah joins Arizona, Mississippi and South Carolina as states that  require all employers to verify their workers. Another 10 states require certain groups of employers, usually public agencies and contractors, to verify workers using E-Verify, and nine states have laws reinforcing federal law in other ways.

The bill was supported by a broad base of constituencies which were motivated by the realization that E-Verify helps protect the citizens of Utah from identity theft and fraud.

The provisions of the bill are as follows:

  1. Participation is voluntary for the first year (to give businesses time to enroll and adjust their hiring procedures)
  2. Participation is mandatory as of July 1, 2011.
  3. The law applies to employers with 15 or more workers.
  4. Employers of legal guest workers would not have to use E-Verify.

An interesting point to note is that there are no penalties for non-compliance. Instead of sanctioning employers, the state will provide positive incentives for compliance including exemption from penalities under state law should a company using a status verification system inadvertently hire an illegal worker.  The state will also maintain a list of those enrolled in the program to encourage the public to monitor which businesses follow the rules and reward them with their business.

New Oregon Law Bans Use of Credit Check for Employment Related Purposes

By Doreen Koronios

During its February 2010 special session, the Oregon Legislature adopted Senate Bill 1045, prohibiting employers from using credit histories in making employment-related decisions.  The law goes into effect on July 1, 2010 and makes it “an unlawful employment practice for an employer to obtain or use for employment purposes information contained in the credit history of an applicant for employment or an employee, or to refuse to hire, discharge, demote, suspend, retaliate or otherwise discriminate against an applicant or an employee with regard to promotion, compensation or the terms, conditions or privileges of employment based on information in the credit history.”

In my last blog, I discussed the issue of credit checks for employment purposes and how applicants should know their credit information and their rights under the various laws.  It is also important for companies to know the different laws, especially in multi state businesses.  Oregon joins Washington and Hawaii as the three states which have banned the use of credit history for employment purposes.  Other states are busy trying to get the same legislation passed. Employers who violate the law will be subject to either an administrative claim filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries or a private lawsuit, and can be held liable for lost wages and attorney fees, among other remedies.

Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, an employer can make employment-related decisions based on credit history but, prior to running a credit check, must notify prospective employees in writing and receive their consent. Additionally, if the employer decides not to hire because of the credit report, the employer must disclose this information to the applicant and provide information on the credit bureaus used. In contrast, the Oregon law creates an outright ban on the use of credit history in employment-related decisions.  However, there are four exceptions to the prohibition:

  1. Bank and credit union employers
  2. Employers that are required by state and federal law to use credit histories for employment purposes
  3. Public safety officer employers
  4. Employers that can demonstrate that credit information is “substantially job-related” and that provide written disclosure of the reasons for the use of the credit check

In light of the above, it is important that business managers and owners know the law for the states in which they hire employees and should consult legal counsel to determine if they fit into one of the statutes exceptions.

Of importance is the fact that the new Oregon law only prohibits the use of credit history, so other background checks – such as criminal background checks – are not affected.

You can find a copy of the Bill at http://www.worldofworklawblog.com/uploads/file/sb1045_en.pdf

How fair is using a credit check as a qualifier for employment?

By Doreen Koronios

It’s hard enough to find work these days without having pre-hire roadblocks, such as credit checks, thrown in front of you. Many companies use credit checks as part of their standard pre-employment background check. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that 60% of companies use credit checks as part of the screening process for certain positions.  In fact, some companies use a credit check as a pre-qualifier, meaning the credit check is done first and if the credit is adverse the company may choose not to move forward with the applicant.  There has always been controversy around using credit checks to qualify an applicant for employment. However, with unemployment so high and the economic recession affecting millions of people, the subject is being hotly debated. Lawmakers are seeking to ban the practice.  Two states have already done so: Hawaii and Washington state.  In many other states, laws have been introduced to curb the practice. In fact, US Rep Steve Cohen (D. Tennessee) is sponsoring a federal bill to completely ban the use of credit checks for employment purposes.

So, is it really fair to use a person’s credit as a qualifier for employment? After all, there are many issues that could cause bad credit that are out of one’s control – economy, unemployment, divorce, illness, etc.  Just because someone has hit a rough patch that affected his credit doesn’t mean he won’t be a good employee. Right?  Before we get hot under the collar, let’s discuss why it is important for companies to perform credit checks for certain positions and what the applicant can do to minimize the issue of adverse credit.

From a company’s perspective, pre employment screening is necessary to hire the right person for the position, and to avoid lawsuits and costly hiring mistakes. Screening applicants aids in keeping the workplace safe for all employees. We have seen in the news many times how companies can be held liable for the actions of their employees, especially if they have not been properly background checked. Credit checks are used to prevent hiring at-risk or untrustworthy applicants into positions where they could do harm to the company.

An employer may request a credit check to verify previous employment. Some employers use credit reports to gauge the applicant’s level of responsibility. Many banks and financial institutions want to make sure the people they are hiring are financially stable and less likely to embezzle money.

For these reasons, it is easy to see why background checks, in general, and credit checks, in particular, are prudent parts of the hiring process for any company.

For the applicant, forewarned is forearmed!  As a general practice, and especially when you are seeking employment, it is important to make sure to check your credit report. The law allows you one free credit check per year. Many times, credit reports contain errors which can be easily fixed with a letter to the credit agencies.

Inform the hiring manager about any credit issues once you know the company will be moving forward with a credit check.  This gives you an opportunity to explain your circumstances in a proactive manner.  After all, many people have financial issues at some point in their lives.

It is important to know that a background check can not be legally conducted on you without your written permission. Under the FCRA, employees must sign a disclosure form granting authorization to perform a background check. The FCRA is not just restricted to credit reports but includes all consumer reports. Laws vary from state to state in how and what information can be used during the pre-employment screening process. So know your rights.

If you are denied employment due to adverse credit, the employer is required to provide you with the name and contact information of the credit agency. You can then contact the agency and dispute any inaccuracies that are found on your report and have them removed.

The reality is that very few people are denied employment due to a credit check. However, many companies do use them in the pre-hire process so it is important for applicants to know their credit and know their rights. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the situation in different states as legislation is finding tough opposition from state business leaders and chambers of commerce on the subject of using credit checks in the hiring process.

THE REALITY OF A BAD BACKGROUND CHECK – THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY KILLER

By Doreen Koronios

The tragedy of the Ohio State University shooting is that it might not have happened had a full background check, including a reference check, been conducted by a reputable third party consumer reporting agency.  Nathaniel Brown lied on his employment application (studies have shown that 80% of applications contain some type of falsification) when asked if he had ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.  However, Ohio prison records show that he was in prison for five years, from July 1979 to March 1984, for receiving stolen property in Stark County. Although OSU conducted a background check, it appears that the company they used may have conducted database checks only, which by themselves would not qualify as a thorough background check.

The corrections record itself might not have been found due to a discrepancy with the subject’s date of birth.  However, Mr. Brown clearly listed a reference on his employment application for a job he said he worked in while he was in prison.  A full background check would have included a call to the listed Supervisor who would have notified the screening company that Mr. Brown was not employed during the dates he listed on his application. This source may have provided the background check company with independent knowledge as to the true date of birth of Mr. Brown. It is important to note that this former supervisor had been interviewed by the Press and acknowledged that although Mr. Brown had worked for him it was not during the period indicated on his application.  The supervisor also confirmed that he was not contacted by anyone up to that point regarding Mr. Brown’s employment history with his firm. Mr. Brown would then have had some explaining to do about where he was during the dates listed, which might have uncovered the fact that he had a criminal record.

Although “national” criminal records database checks are marketed as quick, efficient, and less costly, you definitely get what you pay for.  When searching for a background screening company, a red flag should go up as soon as you see the words “free” and “instant results”.

While criminal records databases are useful in identifying potential criminal records they should not be relied upon as accurate or complete. Here are several reasons why so called “national” criminal records databases don’t work:

1. There is no such thing as a national criminal records check – There is no central repository for federal, state, and local criminal records. The FBI has the only nationwide criminal database, known as NCIC (National Crime Information Center), which cannot be accessed by anyone other than a criminal justice agency. According to Concerned CRAs, criminal record databases are put together by private companies who purchase information from a “patchwork” of sources, including county courts, state criminal records repositories, sex offender registries, and prison systems. U.S. Senator Herb Kohl said, “The current system of state-based background checks is haphazard, inconsistent, and full of gaping holes”.

2. They are not FCRA compliant – The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the federal law that details how consumer credit information can be collected, disseminated and used.  Most important is the fact that the information reported must be up to date.

3. The information is not up to date – Not all states have automated systems for collecting data and most do not make their records available in bulk electronic format.  Therefore, the content, accuracy, and timeliness of the data are called into question.

4. They are prone to errors – report criminal records that have been expunged which causes the denial of employment to many – At least 40 states allow the right to seal or expunge records for some minor prior criminal convictions. However, the private electronic databases of criminal records are not up to date and sometimes show these expunged records. This leads to many of these applicants losing job opportunities because their background checks contain inaccurate information about their criminal convictions.  

5. They expose your company to the risk of costly litigation -Employers who fail to do the proper due diligence often find themselves embroiled in litigation. The average award for a negligent hiring lawsuit is $1 million.  The highest award in the U.S. for a negligent hiring case was $26.5 million. A company’s best defense against negligent hiring lawsuits is a thorough pre-employment screening by an experienced company that knows how and where to search for criminal records.

6. They expose your company to a potential public relations nightmare – Your company’s reputation has an enormous impact on the growth and success of the business.  Negligent hiring can expose a company to bad publicity, damage the company’s reputation, and affect future growth and earnings. 

The moral of this story is that you truly get what you pay for. If you want to keep your company and employees out of harms way, the best way to do that is to hire a reputable third party consumer reporting agency (background screening company). The consequences of shortcutting a pre-employment background check could have long range affects including massive financial settlements, bad publicity, and, in the worst case, loss of life.

For information on how CARCO can help you with your pre-employment screening needs, please visit http://www.carcogroup.com/.