School board background checks in full swing


 Board of education members statewide will be fingerprinted in the coming weeks to comply with a new state law that requires they undergo a criminal history check.

The state Department of Education has sent procedures to school districts, and is urging trustees to get the digital fingerprints done as soon as possible, said Faith Sarafin, spokeswoman for the department.



Fraudulent Education and Employment Claims Increase Background Background Checks

By Gordon Basichis

Fraudulent claims from international employment candidates, especially from China, have necessitated an increased in employment and education verification background checks for employers looking to recruit applicants from these regions.   Many employment screening services have reported that the growing problem of academic and work qualification fraud in China has lead to increased business from background checking agencies.

For a long time international candidates made fraudulent claims and for the most part they went uncontested. Staffing agencies and employers for a long time accepted the information on CV’s and resumes pretty much at face value.  But no longer.



Prospective caregivers for some of Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens may soon be subject to extensive criminal record searches, thanks to a $3 million grant to establish a comprehensive statewide system for thorough background checks.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky is very pleased to participate in this critical initiative that is designed to help long-term care facilities and providers avoid hiring individuals with certain criminal histories by conducting federal and state level background checks on prospective job applicants,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “This falls directly in line with our ongoing work to address elder abuse and improve patient care in long-term care facilities.”

Currently, state law requires long-term care facilities to conduct only name-based background checks for their prospective employees. This grant, however, will help the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) purchase equipment to conduct digital fingerprint background checks, which will ultimately enhance patient safety.

The grant enables the state to purchase live scan equipment to secure digital fingerprints that will be used for both in-state and FBI criminal background checks, according to cabinet officials.

Kentucky is home to 590 long-term care facilities, 101 assisted living facilities, and roughly 600 other providers who employ direct patient access workers.

Once established, this new statewide system will allow officials to perform more in-depth screening of applicants seeking employment at nursing, intermediate care and Alzheimer’s facilities; personal care and family care homes; home health agencies, hospice care providers, long-term care hospitals, personal services agencies, adult day care providers, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with mental retardation and developmental disabilities, and other entities that provide long-term services.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is charged with administering the National Background Check Program (NBCP), created under Section 6201 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This agency is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last year, Beshear ordered a multi-agency review – coordinated by the CHFS – that resulted in a comprehensive report on the protection of nursing home residents. The Cabinet has implemented many recommendations included in the report. Additionally, the cabinet has revived the state Elder Abuse Committee to continue the vital collaboration between agencies and stakeholders in an effort to enhance measures aimed at protecting Kentucky’s seniors.

The state also joined the national Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program. In the program, states work with medical professionals to detect cases where older Americans are being scammed.

On the heels of these actions, Beshear supported and later signed into law two pieces of legislation targeted at protecting adults and the elderly from abuse and exploitation. The laws, which specifically addressed guardianship of adults, bar individuals convicted of felony abuse or exploitation of an adult from serving as that victim’s guardian, executor or power of attorney. The other measure makes the guardianship process more accessible for those who are dealing with more than one state.

“The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is committed to our mission to protect Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens,” said CHFS Secretary Janie Miller. “We are pleased to take part in the National Background Check Program and commend Beshear for his continued leadership and support of issues that safeguard Kentucky’s seniors.”

As the state begins to implement the grant, it seeks input from the provider community and public and private stakeholders on the development of legislation designed to expand current background check policies. For more information or to provide input on the new program, contact the Office of the Inspector General at (502) 564-2888.

Source: lex18

ALERT Job Screening Agency Archiving All Facebook

If you’re still not using any of the privacy settings on Facebook, here’s the most compelling reason why you need to change that as soon as possible.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has given the thumbs up to Social Intelligence Corp, which keeps files of Facebook users’ posts as part of a background-checking service for screening job applicants.

The FTC decided Social Intelligence complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the same set of rules that keeps your bill-payment records on file with the consumer bureaus for seven years, according to Forbes.

That’s how long your social media postings remain in Social Intelligence’s records. Even if you delete an embarrassing photo or bawdy status update, the material could stay in your file for seven years, during which time it might be used against you if a prospective employer were to use the agency’s services to screen applicants.

This ups the ante on prospective employers simply Googling you or even looking for you on Facebook and other sites — by now, many job hunters know enough to clean up their profiles when looking for work. Social Intelligence would have the goods on you before you cleaned up your online act, dating back seven years.

We can only suspect that if Social Intelligence has the go-ahead to operate in this capacity, other start-ups might follow. That’s all the more reason to err on the safe side and use Facebook’s privacy settings to their fullest.

Readers, does learning about services like Social Intelligence make you want to recheck your security settings or start using them if you haven’t done so already?




by Muhammad Saad Khan

When we talk about quality employment and best employee, then the first thing which came up in any employer’s mind is that their incumbent would be highly qualified and his qualification is legitimate.

Legitimacy of education is becoming a very intense issue these days as there are many people trying to get their credentials faked out to get their desired job. As the recession hit all around the globe and the job market is so scarce, and the qualified employee needs are so high, so many people are using bad means to get their education.

There are number of diploma mills and degree mills, offline and online which are providing the best criminal services to the people and making money like never before. They are actually selling fake degrees, diplomas and certifications. Which have no worth as now every single employer is running a comprehensive education background check to vet their education authenticity.

Verifying the education credentials of a potential candidate can be an important part in identifying if they have the suitable skills set for the position. Educational success reveals a great deal about an applicant’s credentials and motivations; and through education background checks, an employer can get an accurate depiction of their qualifications.

Many employers view particular educational qualifications as a key factor in seeking new employees. Moreover, education is a prerequisite for many positions because it ensures applicable knowledge of a subject matter, or more importantly, a required license for the position.

Studies show that approximately 30% of all applicants puff up information about their educational background, ranging from made‐up degrees from legitimate schools to insignificant degrees from diploma mills.

In 2004, the general Accounting Office revealed that nearly 200,000 federal employees had at the very least exaggerated education credentials on their resume.

SHRM(Society for Human Resource Management): More than 53% of job applicants falsify information on their resumes; one in four candidates misrepresents his educational attainment.

ADP Hiring Index: 49% of employment, education and or credential reference checks reveal discrepancies in the applicant’s information.

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners: 41% of applicants lie about their education.

The above trend indicates an increase in the likelihood that employer’s who don’t verify education will hire unqualified personnel. Hiring unqualified personnel, in turn, leads to higher employee turnover, forcing the organization to incur expensive recruiting and replacement costs.

Online Degree Scams: Diploma Mills and Fake Degrees

It has also become exceedingly easy to access an authentic looking, knock‐off diploma from any school in America; all you need is a credit card and a computer. Diploma mills and degree mills as well as various websites, advertise very realistic, physical diplomas and transcripts, which have been found to deceive many employers.

Therefore, with the striking statistics of resume fraud, employers should think twice about using physical diplomas as proper evidence of a degree. Because the requirement for education qualification has become so demanding, education fraud is becoming more prevalent, as are the establishments of diploma mills.

Consequently, in order to combat education fraud, laws have recently been passed in which companies who manufacture fake degrees and diplomas are considered to have committed a Misdemeanor, unless the degree explicitly states, “for novelty purposes only.”

Current Systems of Education Background Checks and Degree/ Diploma Verification and Why They Are Not Enough!

  • At present, human resource departments in companies directly contact the concerned educational institution and undertake verification. This is no longer a viable solution, considering the increase in the number of recruitments, and the time taken for verification. This is also not a fool proof method.
  • A second method, often adopted by many of the larger corporations, is to outsource their employment verifications to background screening companies, who maintain large personnel databases.
  • The third system which has developed recently in education background checks is the system of online degree and diploma verification. There is a database of fake colleges and universities and as well as the misdemeanors who faked their documents in past. It is now the best free online resource for the employers as well as for the students, who can check their institutions as well.

The biggest issue with targeting these diploma mills is that they frequently move around. Many diploma mills are constantly changing their names while others are sprouting up sporadically. There are currently hundreds of diploma mills on the internet that offer fake degrees and diplomas.

When posing as legitimate institutions, diploma mills will use catchy phrases to attract potential buyers:

• Here is an opportunity to get ahead

• University diplomas

• Obtain a prosperous future, money earning power, and the admiration of all

• Diplomas from a prestigious university

• Based upon your present knowledge and life experience

• No required tests, classes, books or interview

• Bachelors, masters, MBA, and doctorate (PhD) diplomas available in your field of choice

• No one is turned down

• Confidentiality assured. Call now to receive your diploma within days

• Furthermore, these “schools” have no faculty, no classes, and no course catalog and only have one address or email in which they can be contacted.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Falsified education credentials have become a serious issue in the workforce; it breaches the faith on employees who are involved, especially when it can directly affect other employees and the company as a whole. It is also a serious blunder on the part of the employer who should have done proper education background checks; a mistake that could essentially hinder their current position.
  • Now that up to 20% of employers in America require a diploma or degree from a college or university that awarded it to them, education background checks have become exceptionally crucial.
  • Although a federal law has been implemented to target diploma mills that give out phony diplomas, the problem still exists and is far from being corrected. In the meantime, employers should remain steadfast about conducting pre‐employment background checks that include verifying academic credentials.
  • The online diploma/degree mill checking systems are significant source of help to the employers looking for easy and free of cost education background check.
  • Education background checks should be included in every pre‐employment screening process.




by Syed Faiez Hussain

There is such a lot of talk around about social media background checks, where employers check your profile out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. But how many do, and how seriously do they take the information they can access, and more to the point, what are they actually looking for?

We were curious so we asked a few questions of a number of employers we interviewed. Here’s what they said:

Employer 1

Q: Do you check people out on social media and what do you think when you do?

A: “This is the big mistake of the younger generation. Everything is fair game and they need to learn that if I saw behavior that I felt didn’t fit with the team, or I discovered things about them that reflected negatively on their employer, or there is a pattern of behaviour that’s likely to lead to work performance issues, then they won’t be getting the job. People should assume that I am checking them out.”

Employer 2

Q: As part of your hiring procedure, do you routinely check people out on MySpace or Facebook?

A: No we don’t check

Q What if you became aware of something that was compromising an employee on a public forum?

A: “If it was a public facing position then we would have to talk to them about it because undoubtedly it could be seen publicly. To a degree what people get up to in their own time is up to them, but when that private persona interferes with that corporate requirement then there has to be an intervention, especially if they are representing the company as part of that corporate persona. Fundamentally I don’t really care. Can they do their job? Are they able to do their job? Will they do the job? Are they in a compromising position? If they are not part of the public face (or they are not seen as representing) the company, then I don’t have a problem with it.”

Q: Do you check people out on social media and what do you think when you do?

Employer 3

A: “I wouldn’t want an employee’s personal life to be reflecting on the business, especially because we are a public company. For me it’s about having the right appearance….We check potential employees on Facebook etc. It’s really important people be aware of this because the internet is so powerful.”

Employer 4

A: “We don’t do those sorts of checks. If something came to my attention of course we would look at it. Then I think you would be bound to take those things into consideration, generally however I think these are a social tool, not a business tool.”

Employer 5

A: “No I have never thought of it, I will normally, depending how long they have been in their previous employment, ring up three of their previous employers.”

Employer 6

Q: What would you do if you found something negative about an employee on social media?

A: “I would put it on the table in front of them and ask them about it. You would at least give this person the opportunity to explain. We haven’t been checking these forums as a matter of course, but we are doing in more often, particularly with contractors or recruitment consultants.”

So what’s the point I am trying to make here? Yes you will be checked out.

Always assume that anyone checking you out is making a subjective judgment– what some people thinks fits with the team, others may think is bad form.

Always assume that whoever is checking as part of a reference check will only have a partial picture of what you’ve been up to, good or bad. They will never know the context until they meet you, and depending what it is, they may not even be able to question you about what they saw to raise their eye-brows.

While by law employers are not able to discriminate, how would you know if you missed out on a job based on something they personally didn’t like?

You could liken this stuff to simple reference checking, but it is reference checking on steroids, given that employers can gather a lot more personal information than they’d ever be able to ask a referee.

On Thomas Shaw’s blog recently, he posted information about an application that will allow you to click to allow employers and recruiters access to your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. You could soon find them soon on careers sites.

One click is all simple and convenient, but when friends can do things like post unflattering photos of you on the wild night of your high school break up, would you really want your Facebook profile to be your resume?

Source: Interview IQ



by Syed Faiez Hussain

While employers have long conducted education verification checks on their employment candidates, it appears that increasingly more staffing and recruiting groups are being made responsible for conducting this and other background checks as part of the employment screening process.
Education history, of course, outside of criminal records, is one of the more significant searches. For many positions, education is not just a prerequisite but also vital to employment candidate’s incumbent skill sets and the legitimacy they bring to the job. Those employment recruits who claim to but who do not possess the required skills can cause untold embarrassment to employer or recruiter alike. Both can lose clients over it, and in the extreme cases incur law suits.

Most notable, if a candidate lies, chances are he is lying about his education. With employment history, a fair number of applicants will exaggerate their role at a job or otherwise stretch the truth. But seldom do they out and out lie about working for an employer. This is not so much the case with education histories. Here is where the employment candidate will attempt to magically transform his two years of college into a full blown Bachelor’s Degree. Or in some cases, they never set foot inside the school.

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I have often wondered why the candidate decides to select the school he has never been to. Did he like the football team? The debating club? The school colors? Or was it a large university with high levels of enrollment and he thought any degree verification efforts would somehow get lost in the shuffle? But then sometimes they speak a smaller school, an ivy shrouded liberal arts college in New England or somewhere, where they might think no one would bother searching. It’s hard to say what goes on in their minds, but I have considered the implications of the schools they select.

To be sure, most employment candidates do not lie about having their college degrees. the overwhelming majority in fact are reputable and honest when it comes to claiming their certifications and degrees. Verifying education with most recruits is a fairly simple and straightforward process. Once we get from the client the type of degree the candidate has obtained, the name of the school, the location of the school, type of degree, major and year of graduation, the rest is pretty simple. Either we obtain verification from the school registrar’s office, the name and position of the verifying party, or we get it from the third party databases. All fine and valid.

There are exceptions. But for the most part, again, these are honest mistakes or simple oversights that are easily rectified. With common names, sometimes the degree is not enough. The researcher may require the major and the actual campus of the college or university. The campus is always important as most colleges and universities, despite the myriad branches, do not centralize their databases. The records for graduates and post-graduate degrees are housed with the registrar of that particular campus.

The wrong graduation date can cause confusion when conducting an education verification background search. With the wrong graduation date, it is sometimes difficult to find the student in the database. In some cases, and good to remember, those applicants who are lying about actually graduating from that college or university, will provide a fictitious graduation date. By doing so they try to hide the fact that they were “enrollment only” or never attended at all. So often we need to verify the graduation date.

Female graduates often go to school under their maiden names and then, years later, forget and provide only their married name. Time can be wasted searching for your candidate under her married name, when she attended school under her maiden name. When you as a recruiter or human resources executive are trying to get someone hired, this can cause delays. So it is always best to find out up front if her current name is the same name she used while attending the college or university.

With international students attending domestic colleges, there is a similar condition as with female college graduates. Often a foreign student went to school under a formal, native name. And then, over time, they”Americanize,” their names. Bao Wynn Nguyen is now Ben or Frank. His recent colleagues, the recruiter and most others now know him as Ben or Frank. But the school still has him records with his native name. When we are unable to verify, initially, it is necessary to go back to the candidate and ask if what name he or she used to register as a student. Again, this can cause delays in the hiring process.

Be aware of diploma mills. Diploma Mills have increased in prominence over the years. Those who run diploma mills, usually have several schools all running out of the same physical location. Often they are located for tax and legal purposes offshore. When conducting our research we find them in places like Gibraltar or the Seychelles.

Diploma Mills are the easy and spurious way to a higher education. This is where the employment candidate has spend all of a couple hundred bucks and twenty minutes, sometimes, in qualifying as a graduate from some mythical Internet School under the guise of “life experience.” Diploma mills often have them high falutin’ names that can sound like real schools. Often the name of the school is selected so you will associate the “graduate” with a prestigious university. They are not. They are not legitimate remote or distance learning institutions. They are bogus, unaccredited by anyone other than themselves, and the degree is worthless.

Examples of the diploma mill versus the actual college or university are, The University of Cambridge, a highly prestigious university in the U.K. and Cambridge State University that operated out of Louisiana and Mississippi until the Louisiana Attorney General had it closed down back in the nineties. Another is the University of Canterbury, an acclaimed and accredited New Zealand University, and our old buddy, and the fully unaccredited Canterbury University, which shows up from time to time on a candidate’s resume. Canterbury University claims to operate out of the United Kingdom, but its offices have been traced back to you guess it, The Seychelles.

Sometimes, when all else fails, it is incumbent upon the employment candidate to supply a copy or his or her degree or transcripts. We request this when the registrar is unable to locate the student in its database. Sometimes it’s a technical glitch, sometimes it’s an oversight on the part of the registrar.

If the candidate produces his college degree, you cannot accept it a face value. A common joke around our office is bogus diplomas is but one more reason G-d invented Photoshop. Or in the case fo diploma mills versus versus an actual university, the college crest just ain’t the same. There are variations, notable differences in both the crest and the proverbial paper it is written on. Another key is to examine carefully the officiating personnel who are listed or who have signed off on the graduation diploma.

We had a recent case where the university could not find the candidate’s graduation records for love nor money. We requested from our client a copy of the candidate’s diploma. Sure enough, here it came. At first glance it looked authentic enough. But upon further review, something was askew.

The diploma was real enough, only the candidate graduated eleven years before that college president had taken office. The candidate had apparently taken someone’s legitimate diploma, swapped out on Photoshop that name for his own and then presented the diploma. An oversight on the part of the candidate and a serious mistake. When we reported our discovery to our client, she immediately invalidated the candidate for any further consideration.

We also get a lot of shuck and jive when we request a copy of the diploma or transcriptional. I can’t find it. It’s not here but with my parents. My dog ate it. Whatever. Sometimes what the candidate claims is true, and most of the the time…well, it’s tough to be caught in a lie. When it comes to explanations and excuses, we have heard quite a few. Some are even pretty creative. One chestnut was the lament, “The school just can’t get it’s s**t together.”

Too rare. So be careful when recruiting. With degrees that have been verified by the school registrar or through the third party databases, you can move forward with your candidate. But when the glitches show up, either resolve them by reviewing the candidate’s name while attending school, major, year of graduation, and, if necessary, a copy of degree. If this method fails to find resolution, then you may have a problem on your hands. Red flags are what they are and while everyone wants to get their person hired, there are few things more embarrassing than your client discovering your candidate had lied.

Source: Recruiting Blogs


by Muhammad Saad Khan

Employers and organizations, from the small businesses to the corporate giants, knows the benefits of hiring the best people and providing a safe, secure and healthy workplace, both physically and financially, for their employees, customers, shareholders, and the community in which they operate.

It’s important to know about the people before hiring. A new prospective employee is an important responsibility for any organization. An employer who has comprehensively performed a thorough pre employment screening on candidates is able to bring into the organization a highly capable person who will prove to be a tremendous asset in the future.


Regrettably, some organizations don’t take pre employment screening as a mandatory chunk of hiring process, and in result they runs with the risk of exposing their organization to someone who could ultimately become the organization’s greatest danger.

There are three basic reasons which elaborate that “why the pre employment screening process is extremely essential for an employer”.

1. To make the best hiring decision

2. Providing the safe working environment

3. Elimination of legal risks and liabilities

To Make the Best Hiring Decision, Employment Pre Screening is a Must!

It has been said that some applicants will only tell you what you want to hear. Most of the transgressions found in the forged resumes are basically in three categories: Education, Job titles, and dates of employment. By thoroughly verifying information given by an applicant, a company can improve the chances of hiring an individual who has portrayed his or her background, experience, and skills honestly and accurately. Using pre employment pre screening to verify an applicant’s history helps employers make decisions based upon facts.

Providing the Safe Working Environment Is a Primary Goal of an Employer

Acquiring and maintaining the safe working place for the employees is the dream of any employer or any organization. It’s obligatory for the employer to maintain work premises which is free of violence, fraud, theft, sexual and other types of harassment. The financial cost from these problems can be enormous. Additionally, there are other costs that are hard to measure, such as the harm to employee morale or the reputation of the organization. So it’s essential to run a pre employment background check to deter the criminals entering your heaven organization.

Legal Risks and Liabilities Are Extremely Harmful

Legal risks and liabilities is the threatening factor which is directly interconnected with the above two reasons of pre employment screening. The employers are responsible for the safety of employees, customers and anyone who enters the workplace. So its usual that there a risks and liabilities in hiring a wrong employee which can not only results into a trouble for the company but also for the business of the company. So to avoid such losses and risks, every employer must perform an effective pre employment background screening assessment to define the integrity and repute of a company.


The pre-employment background screening process can assist an employer in the hiring of qualified applicants, while simultaneously reducing turnover, deterring fraud, and avoiding litigation. As the job applicants vary widely in their knowledge, skills, abilities, interests, work styles, and other personal characteristics so these differences systematically affect the way people perform or behave on the job. Comprehensive pre employment screening process is able to collect accurate information on job-relevant characteristics that are not often recognized by simply observing the applicant. And most importantly these pre employment background checks can help in minimizing the chances of potential legal vulnerabilities. Thus the information helps assess the fit or match between people and jobs and has proven to have a significant return on investment for employers.



Millennials Could Dictate the Future of Employment Screening

As the reins change hands from Generation X to Millennials over the next 20 years, the work force will be replaced by tech savvy security managers looking for fast, convenient, and portable solutions to employee background checks. The future of preemployment screening is mobile availability, according to Marc Malloy, vice president of HireRight, Inc., the world’s largest background screening software company.

In the future, “the way background checks are ordered, how they’re studied, and how these reports are made, all of these things are going to be on an entirely different platform,” Maloy said in a presentation on the future of preemployment screening earlier today (June 9, 2011) during the monthly ASIS International Information Asset Protection Council and the Privacy and Personnel Information Management Council meeting.

Background information on potential employees is still received by fax or mail, Malloy said, but the demand for digital will only increase over time as managers of the future seek to lessen the time between hiring employees and having them start work.

He also addressed the topic of screening social media profiles of potential employees. Recent statistics show that with the help of Millennials, social media have replaced e-mail as the leading form of communication online; surprisingly, however, Malloy said the demand for social media searches on potential employees is low.

“We don’t believe social network screening is ready, from a maturity standpoint, for businesses to consider that in background screening, but we know they do it anyway,” he said. “[Employers] that do it are looking for drug, violence, or sexual references, “ he said.

There are legal considerations specific to social media, however.

Social media profiles can provide another look at a potential employee, but rejecting potential applicants or new employees because of content on a social media profile is still a gray area and opens a company up for discrimination lawsuits or other types of laws, such as claims of violations of privacy rights. (For more on this, see “How to Avoid Hiring Mishaps” by Lester S. Rosen, Security Management, May 2009.)

Maloy said he only knows of one company that searches social media sites as part of a preemployment background check.

That company is Social Intelligence. On its Web site, it refers to social media searches as a catch-22 situation. “If employers ‘Google’ job candidates, then employers are vulnerable to discrimination charges and job candidates are vulnerable to discrimination. If employers don’t Google job candidates, then employers are vulnerable to litigation due to negligent hire and job candidates are unrecognized for assets, achievements, and contributions,” they present on their homepage.

Social Intelligence said they protect both the employer and the employee by only searching for employer-defined objectionable material. They also provide a service that tracks the public online activity of existing employees. (Security Management has noted that experts warn against looking at social information placed behind a wall for authorized viewers only.)

Other companies are taking it slow. “We’re not super comfortable with it,” Maloy told those listening in to the conference call. “Once there’s one or two cases that set a precedent, then we’ll build a product.”



Facebook legally to conduct background checks

As more people create Facebook profiles (500 million and growing), and sign on to the many social media sites available today, hiring managers are finding they have new opportunities to get background information on job candidates.

Tapping into a potential hire’s Facebook profile, or Twitter account, for information means you can learn more about a candidate’s personality than you might get with just a job interview. A Facebook profile, or collection of tweets, can offer additional insight into whether or not a person might be a good fit with a corporation’s culture. On the flip side, a thorough check of one’s social media footprint might also uncover some serious missteps, or questionable judgments, a potential hire has made in their past. Having the benefit of finding this BEFORE a hire has been made may make some organizations feel thankful they’ve dodged the bullet of a potential disastrous addition to the work ranks.

[See also: Checking job candidates’ FB pages can come back to haunt you]

But in between the good and the bad information is plenty of data that is illegal to view if you are making a hiring decision. And even if a hiring manager honestly does not use off-limits material, once they have seen it on Facebook, it can become grounds for a lawsuit.

“It not about the medium,” according to Victoria Mavis, president & senior consultant at Core People Resources, a human-resource-services firm in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.”It’s about what you do with the information you get. Whether I get it off the background information check or off of Facebook, is it information I should have access to in the first place?”

For a little guidance on navigating the new landscape of information out there on potential hires, we spoke with human resource and labor law experts on ways to be smart when using Facebook and other social media to check up on job candidates.

Tip #1: If you’re going to use Facebook to vet job applicants, make it clear, up front, in the hiring process

If you plan to take advantage of social media venues, like Facebook, to conduct background investigations, the most important first step is to have a policy, and make sure candidates are aware of it, said Mavis.

“Let candidates know you are going to do background checks so you can do it properly and get authorization,” she said.

That means disclosing all of the places you may go searching for information about a potential hire, and all of the things you may go looking for.

“Identify ahead of time the five or ten things that, if you saw them on a candidate’s profile, would concern you about them. That might be a reference to use of illegal drugs, or graphics promoting hate,” said Mavis. “Also figure out what might be some positives you would seek, such as a candidate who is active in their community, or involved in a cause, such as cancer research.”

Tip #2: But remember, once you’ve viewed it, it can put you in a legal conundrum

Using Mavis’ previous point about finding out a potential hire is involved in cancer research, brings us to a concern that goes along with discovery this kind of information. As Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment Group at Ohio legal firm Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, notes, finding out someone is involved with a cancer-related cause also means you might discover health information you shouldn’t access as a hiring organization.

“There are a lot of EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) issues to consider,” said Hyman. “Say you are doing a Facebook search on a potential employee, and find they have “liked” the Komen Foundation. You read through the page and find this person is a breast cancer survivor. Now the bell has rung that this person has had cancer, and you now have disability-discrimination issues, whether it’s based on the actual disability, or perceived disability. You now also have genetic-information-discrimination possibilities. And that bell can’t be un-rung. And as an employer who has to make a hiring decision, you get put in the unenviable position of having to prove a negative; of having to prove that you didnt use that information as part of the decision.”

Other obvious EEO areas you don’t want to view while looking at Facebook and other social media would include religious affiliations, race status or age.

“You would never ask on a job application what year someone graduated from college, because that could disclose how old someone is,” noted Hyman.”That is not something you want to know when making hiring decision. But if you go on Facebook, you can see what year a person graduated, and you can easily put two and two together and figure out something that is information you would never ask for otherwise.”

Tip #3: Consider a third party to do the research for you

Having an independent researcher, someone not linked to the hiring and recruiting process, look for information and report back to you may be the best way to avoid any impropriety on the part of the hiring organization, said Mavis.

“If I can access your Facebook profile, I can see your sex, your age, your race. All that is privy to me and I can’t realistically say I didn’t have access to it,” she said. “But as a researcher, I could have access to it. I just dont report it on to the hiring managers.”

An independent researcher does not always have to be someone outside the company, said Mavis. Smaller organizations that may not be able to afford to hire a third-party can recruit an employee within the company who has no influence on the hiring decision.

Whoever conducts the background check should work from a list of information the employer has predetermined that they want to find, which can be both positive and negative attributes. The researcher can then print or copy the materials they have found and bring them back to the hiring organization; omitting any information that is illegal to use in a hiring decision. This ensures hiring personnel do not have access to protected information, said Mavis.

Tip #4: Understand what you find may not be reliable or accurate

“Just because someone puts it on a blog or Twitter, doesn’t mean it’s true,” said Hyman.

While information uncovered during a background investigation using Facebook, Twitter, blogs or other online sites, may make a candidate seem like a poor fit, it’s important to follow up and let them know what you have found.

“If you decide not to hire a candidate based on something a researcher has found, present them with that information, explain why it’s a concern,” said Mavis. “There is always a chance it’s incorrect on social media. It could even be the wrong person. But the candidate deserves a chance to explain.”