Reference Services: Powering Informed Decisions through Background Screening
Debra Keller, VP of Compliance
When Debra Keller, VP of Compliance at Reference Services stepped into the background screening industry, she quickly realized that the world of screening was not exactly what it appeared to be and definitely didn’t work the way she thought it did when she was on the employer side of the table.
The first surprise was learning how criminal records are actually obtained (purchased) by screening firms, a process she, like many HR professionals, ‘thought’ she understood. In reality, there were many sources for purchasing criminal record data from resellers, and the data varied in quality and quantity. She was also shocked to learn that background screening firms are not all using (buying) the same criminal record data. Were firms actually allowed to buy data that wasn’t capturing the most accurate or up to date records? In a word, yes. There are no regulations that require a screening firm to purchase a certain ‘amount’ of criminal record data. Did employers truly understand how background screening really works? “As I’ve learned over the years, no, many if not most do not,” says Keller, “and even the most tenured HR professional may not understand that the differences in a quality background check stem directly from the quality and quantity of data being searched. Additionally, we find all too often that employers don’t realize that an incredibly cheap background check reflects the quality that they are receiving.” And these are just a few of the misconceptions about screening that drove Reference Services to become a leader in not only the screening industry in general, but in providing a commitment to truly educating employers.
While background screening is the backbone to successful talent management for all organizations, the facets of an accurate and compliant background check are numerous and can create somewhat of a burden on an HR team. In fact, employer responsibilities under the FCRA related to screening are often misunderstood by employers and can result in litigation against an employer, who simply isn’t informed. This is one of the many reasons an employer needs to select the right background screening partner.
“In addition to providing the best background check, our goal at Reference Services is to educate HR professionals with critical knowledge so they can mitigate risk in their organization and utilize best practices. That knowledge translates into empowered employers who can protect themselves and make the right decisions,” says Debra.
Reference Services helps clients focus on all areas of pre-employment screening with its superior compliance expertise, quality data, and outstanding customer service
Reference Services is headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, with a satellite office in Charleston, SC. As they describe themselves “we’re a company with strong Midwest ‘old school’ values, who offers incredible accuracy, cutting edge technology solutions and superior client care”. Their success and the success they offer their clients, focuses on four key things - quality and quantity of data, compliance expertise, a commitment to educating and empowering their clients and finally, that dedication to client care that has earned them the loyalty of some of the largest employers and non-profit organizations in the U.S. Boasting that 97 percent of client calls or issues are resolved in under one hour, you won’t find any ‘phone trees’ at RSI or wait days or hours for help. They feel so strongly about their service ethics that they created their own ‘after hours’ team, which is available seven days a week and is made up of their own full time, regular employees. They don’t ‘farm out’ their client care in any way or use call centers. And based on their reputation and loyal, ever-growing client base, this approach serves them well.
RSI’s services include all aspects of pre-employment screening, including verification services (employment, education and references), drug testing and physicals and management of DOT programs. They also offer EEOC guidance support, individualized assessment programs and background screening policy development guidance, as well as integrations with select ATS system and payroll providers. And as you might guess, being a company who is so dedicated to educating their clients, they also conduct educational seminars, webinars and training for organizations to understand the importance of in-depth background screening and all that it entails.
Remember, “what an employer doesn’t know about his employee can hurt his organization”, but you ‘can’ know it all. Just ask Deb and the team at RSI.