Criminal records background collection, storage and checking is a multi-billion dollar global industry with ever-expanding technological capabilities. The Direct Marketing Association, a trade group for data brokers, has calculated that the industry generates $156 billion in annual revenue, 70% of it involving companies sharing their records on consumers and groups of individuals with other enterprises. The brokers’ computer programs, which crunch data from public records and private databases, can involve hundreds and even thousands of factors.
Below are a collection of news articles, press releases and web sites demonstrating the explosive growth of this industry. Background reports contain data about criminal history, security clearance qualifications, security access authorization, credit, insurance and medical claims, and other public and private information. There are many businessesinvolved in the processing of this data, the biggest of which are the data brokers.
Government Reports & Studies
Report of the National Task Force on the Commercial Sale of Criminal Justice Record Information
U.S. Department of Justice (2005). This report is the first-ever comprehensive look at the role that commercial background screening companies play in the collection, maintenance, sale,and dissemination of criminal history record information.
Report of The National Task Force on the Criminal Backgrounding of America
U.S. Department of Justice (2005). This report is intended to provide law- and policymakers with recommendations and discussion on criminal backgrounding for noncriminal justice purposes
Corporate Press Releases & News Articles
Data compilers’ secret scores have consumers pegged — fairly or not
LA Times article (April 8, 2014)
Retailers Track Employee Thefts in Vast Databases
Facing a wave of employee theft, The New York Times resports that retailers across the country have helped amass vast databases of workers accused of stealing and are using that information to keep employees from working again in the industry.
Spokeo settles FTC allegation of illegal sale of personal data
Data broker Spokeo Inc. will pay $800,000 to settle a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit that alleged the Pasadena company illegally sold personal information.
Background check firms could use a background check
Report says errors are common on background checks on job applicants.
Broken Records: How Errors by Criminal Background Checking Companies Harm Workers and Businesses
In a study released in April, the National Consumer Law Center said criminal background screening companies routinely mix up people’s records; omit critical information; reveal sealed or expunged information; provide misleading information; and misclassify offenses.
There’s also other evidence that this could be a broad problem.
Late last year, a federal judge in Virginia approved the $28 million settlement of three class-action lawsuits against HireRight Solutions, formerly known as USIS Commercial Services, and several of its affiliates.
Dissent over criminal-background checks
A former general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) disagrees with its recent guidance to not ask about convictions in employment applications.
TazWorks Announces Seven New State Criminal Provider Integrations
“The background check market is getting more competitive and the need for automated data transfer is stronger than ever before. Our goal at TazWorks is to automate background screening agencies to be more efficient and profitable.”
What Will an Arrest Record Search Reveal?
The principal purpose of an arrest record search is to help you identify the bad seeds in a sea of candidates. Conducting an employment background check involves searching a person’s criminal and arrest history by accessing numerous sources of information. These criminal histories should return all the information about a person’s interactions with the law, and in most states, you’re entitled to consider this information when making employment decisions about the candidate.
Background Check Companies With ‘Little Or No Accountability’ Costing Job Seekers
Thousands of U.S. job hunters are losing out because employers use faulty background-check data drawn from shoddy records, consumer advocates say in a new report.
Use of criminal-background data is exploding as the economy struggles back from the worst job crisis in decades, the National Consumer Law Center says in the report, which is being released Wednesday. To meet surging demand, countless dubious companies have sprouted up, it says.
“It’s the Wild West for background-screening report companies,” says Persis Yu, lead writer of the report. “They’re generating billions in revenue, but they have little or no accountability.”
IBM’s COPLINK sucks into one massive database all that disjointed information that was once scribbled down by hand.
The World Privacy Forum is dedicated to reimagining privacy in a digital era through groundbreaking, in-depth privacy research, analysis, and consumer education of the highest quality. Our vision is to empower people with the knowledge, rights, and tools they need to protect their privacy and shape their digital lives.
The mission of the National Center for Safety Initiatives, formed in partnership with the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS), is “to serve as our country’s premiere resource in an overall effort to eradicate harm and loss in organizations and communities across the globe through increased awareness and training, the creation and implementation of national standards and the integration of fully-managed risk management programs, inclusive of background screening.”
The American Medical College Application Service Background Check Service is a national background check on medical school applicants which is run upon their conditional acceptance to medical school.
Certiphi specializes in customized applicant screening services, including background checks, occupational health screening and DOT compliance services, for the healthcare services industry.
SpotCrime is making its historical database of crime data available to anyone who asks, free of charge.