Flawed Fingerprinting

“My choices are like my fingerprints; they make me unique” – Deepika Padukone

When you run fingerprints on your applicants do you believe you are doing your due diligence to protect the safety of your coworkers, clients, and products? Do you believe the fingerprinting system to be flawless? Unfortunately, the system is not as perfect as one might expect. The government recommends the use of both fingerprinting as well as utilizing a consumer reporting agency for the best transparency when reviewing an applicant’s criminal record report. Using both systems is advantageous to avoid lawsuits, even if the error was unintentional.

The United States Department of Justice recommends utilizing consumer reporting agencies as a source to receive the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding criminal cases, as the FBI maintained system is missing an astonishing fifty percent of the final dispositions on their records. You may be asking yourself why does the FBI not have access to all records in real-time. The FBI system was created for the use of the government, then gradually allowed the use of their system for employment purposes. Not having the most up-to-date information on cases is a local and state-level issue. Believe it or not, it is entirely possible to commit a crime in one county of a state, and then commit a crime in another county, and the jurisdictions may not make the connection between the two through fingerprinting alone. This is due in part to privatized fingerprinting companies and a lack of connectivity between jurisdictions. Not all cities connect with their state, and not all states connect with other states (including their surrounding states). An example of this, that only recently changed would be Houston, Texas. Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the country. Houston is located in Harris County, however previously Harris County and Houston had separate fingerprinting vendors and they were not sharing information universally. Another example of this lack of connectivity shines a light on how criminals can continue at the cost of public safety. Alabama had an unfortunate event of a robbery and homicide. They were able to successfully pull a print from the crime scene, however, they did not have connectivity to the FBI. This resulted in ten more fatalities from someone you may know as the “DC Sniper”. There were prints on file for this person in the immigration and naturalization database. Those deaths could have been avoided had they had the proper connection. There are an estimated 600 systems between federal, state, and local levels. Until the government enforces a cohesive connection between all three levels, it is imperative to use the aid of a consumer reporting agency.

When you are provided information from the fingerprint report, you may receive arrest information. It is important to note that an arrest does not necessarily mean conviction. Additionally, a conviction does not necessarily mean the record currently stands. If you receive a fingerprint report that only contains arrest records, and as a result, you deny employment to your applicant, it is possible to face a lawsuit (even if this was an unintentional error), due to employee protections. What can you do to avoid this issue? Utilize the assistance of a consumer reporting agency.

What sets a consumer reporting agency apart from fingerprinting agencies are the laws they must abide by. Consumer reporting agencies must stay compliant with the FCRA (Federal Credit Reporting Act). These are set regulations that ensure the most up-to-date information regarding applicants is provided. For example, if you are provided a report by Research Services, we will never solely provide an arrest date. We would do our due diligence to provide complete and current case information only. We stay current on local reporting laws, which aids in reducing your liability when making a hiring decision versus an adverse action decision.

If you are interested in receiving additional information regarding our services and how we can help assist in an efficient and accurate hiring process, contact us today.

The information provided on this website is not to be considered legal advice. All information on this blog is for general information purposes only.


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