Are you hiring a locksmith or other contractor for renovating your house, updating the electrical wiring at your business, or putting up drywall? If so, it is critical to remember the contractor background screening.
While they are often extremely qualified, respected, and trustworthy people, contractors have the opportunity to abuse their access to people’s homes or businesses to commit crimes. Adding to the risk is that contractors often work independently as sole proprietors of their businesses. This business structure precludes a contractor from having to pass a background check as part of a hiring process with a larger company. In turn, customers may, without realizing it, hire a contractor who has never had to pass a background check or prove their credentials to attain their professional position.
Consider this story reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about a new push in Broward County, Florida (home of Fort Lauderdale) to require more regulations for professional locksmiths. As the article notes, there is currently no licensing system in Broward County that requires someone to pass a background check before going into business as a professional locksmith.
Mark Bogen, the county commissioner, sees the lack of regulation as a problem for Broward County and its citizens, calling locksmithing “one of the few professions that poses a huge safety risk to your home and your business.” Currently, homeowners and business owners in the county have no way of knowing whether a locksmith is, for instance, a convicted felon unless they conduct their own contractor background screening process.
As the Sun-Sentinel notes, Broward County is not unique in having no regulatory requirements for locksmiths. Some local governments have rules that require licensing, ongoing professional education, and locksmith background checks for anyone working in this field. Many others have no regulatory measures at all.
Bogen has proposed a new law for Broward County that would require fingerprinting and locksmith background checks for anyone wishing to become a licensed locksmith in the county. The background checks would include state criminal history checks through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as well as FBI database checks.
The law would also include requirements for liability insurance (a minimum of $50,000 in coverage) and proof of qualifications and experience—locksmiths would have to show that they had worked as locksmith apprentices for at least one year to obtain a license. Finally, the new ordinance would make it a violation for any locksmith to keep copies of someone’s keys, even if the locksmith claimed to have forgotten to return the keys.
One aspect of these rules—and one of the reasons why contractor background screening is essential—is safety. Locksmiths have access (or can gain access) to homes, businesses, or cars, making trust a central part of their hiring. The proposed Broward County law would bar anyone with violent crimes, sex crimes, property crimes, or stalking from becoming a licensed locksmith. Contractor background checks and licensing measures also protect customers from the risk that comes with hiring an uninsured locksmith and makes it more difficult for locksmiths to overcharge or scam their customers.
At backgroundchecks.com, we often detail the virtues of contractor and vendor background checks. To learn why these checks are essential, particularly in the current employment landscape, read our white paper on the subject.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments