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Why Will Background Checks Matter Even More after COVID-19?

By Michael Klazema on 7/15/2020

In June, the United States economy gained 4.8 million jobs—not only blowing past the predicted job gain figure of 2.9 million but also setting a record for the largest single-month job increase in American history.

The economy is still far from recovered: the job gain took the U.S. unemployment rate down to 11.1 percent, which is still higher than the Great Recession unemployment peak of 10.6 percent. Still, the return of millions of lost jobs is one of the first bright signs in months for the economy—and an indication to many businesses that now might be the time to start hiring back furloughed staff or unfreezing recruitment efforts.

If your organization is in a position to begin hiring again, there is one crucial thing to remember: background checks matter even more now than they did before the pandemic.

In any situation, pre-employment background screenings are an essential due diligence step for employers. Conducting detailed background checks is the best way to spot criminal history that might indicate a threat to customers, other employees, or the public. Background checks are also the best way to spot resume lies, hear about character or work ethic flaws from references, and spot role-specific issues that might make an employee a liability (such as a dangerous driving record for a candidate applying to be a taxi driver).

COVID-19 has underlined the crucial nature of background checks for several reasons. First, while stay-at-home orders have lifted and most businesses have been permitted to reopen in-person operations, the pandemic has normalized working remotely for many organizations. Some experts fear that this work-from-home model—and its remote access to company networks, sensitive documents, and financial information—could render businesses more vulnerable to cybercrime.

While some of these attacks could reflect hacker activity and other external threats, another source of significant concern is the rise of internal fraud and embezzlement.

COVID-19 has had a significant financial impact. While federal impact payments and an increase in unemployment relief in the United States have helped ease the financial blow to households, in a survey of adults living in G7 countries, 31 percent said that the coronavirus had impacted their household income, while another 39 percent said COVID-19 hadn’t impacted household income yet but that they expected it to have an impact in the future. This factor, combined with still-high unemployment rates, could create a sense of desperation among job seekers and employees that leads to fraud, embezzlement, and other crimes.

Recessions tend to trigger spikes in fraud, particularly internal fraud. Your organization’s first defense against a coronavirus-related spike in internal fraud is the background check process, so use it wisely. At backgroundchecks.com, we can help you design a background check thorough enough to spot red flags that might signal trouble ahead. Contact us today to get started.


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