How to Choose a Background Verification Company

How to Choose a Background Verification Company?


Many companies and their HR departments are faced with a common question “Which background verification company should we choose and why? Background verification is still a nascent industry in India and is slowly but surely growing. As more startups are born, especially the technology-enabled ones, background verification only increases in significance. ISO 27001 certified companies, particularly the ones handling their user’s sensitive data, must verify their employees to fulfill their compliance requirements. Hence, the question above is not a trivial one. Moreover, how one views background verification is equally important:

  1. Is background verification merely a checkbox and is done for the sake of compliance?
  2. Is background verification a risk mitigation process and can save a company from irrevocable reputational and monetary harm?

I argue that it is the latter. HR departments must not compromise on quality and merely choose the agency that offers the lowest price. The background verification industry has low barriers to entry, low oversight, and lack of accreditation. Hence, it is of paramount importance to choose an agency based on attributes not least authenticity, technology, and data security among the usual, TAT and price

How to choose a background verification company?

Here are 3 things you should review before deciding on your background verification partner

  1. Authenticity
  2. Technology
  3. Data Security

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into each of these items

1. Authenticity

Due to low oversight, the market is flooded with less than scrupulous background check agencies. These agencies, even some big/legacy players, I must add, follow processes that rank incredibly low due to several loopholes that can be exploited by their agents, who are usually freelancers. A case in point is address verification where an agent must physically visit the candidate’s residential/permanent address to validate it. These agencies provide proof such as a picture and some remarks however, we know that in many cases it is possible for the agents to download these pictures from google images or simply ask the candidate to send them the pictures on WhatsApp. Does the verification agency have checks and balances to mitigate such incidents?

Another example is education verification in which the agency may again perform a physical visit and tell their agents to bribe a peon in the university to quickly get the marksheet/certificate stamped without having to pay the expensive university fee for verification.

HR brethren, do you really know what’s going on behind the scenes? Go with quality always!

2. Technology

We are in the age of AI/ML and blockchain. However, it does not necessarily mean that these technologies are automating the entire background verification process, especially in a traditional but gradually digitizing economy like India. Background verification agencies like to use these buzz words for effect, but the truth is majority of the background check processes are still executed through human intervention. Even in mature economies like the US, which has a higher level of digitization of public records, complete automation is not possible and there have been several lawsuits against background verification companies relying on complete automation, due to false positives arising from said automation, leading to wrongful reporting thereby causing huge inconvenience and reputational damage to job applicants and even tenants!

Now, I must add that technology has a role to play and has definitely automated a lot of the background verification processes like identity verification, education check (to a certain extent), criminal record (court) check etc. however the real benefit of tech in BGV is in reducing the workload of HR departments who are already burdened with more important tasks like employee well-being and productivity post Covid-19. A BGV vendor with their own proprietary platform can leverage technology to offer companies an end-to-end service, including handling document/detail collection directly from candidates (provided the client’s policies permit that) and even managing insufficiencies without burdening HR. Therefore, HR brethren must choose a background verification agency whose processes are authentic and who can reduce HR’s workload and be a good ally in compliance.

3. Data Security

Data security

Ever heard of a government bill that could cause your company to go bankrupt because they did not secure client/user data and now cannot afford to pay hefty fines? Yes, this is what the Personal Data Protection Bill (yet to be passed in India) will bring with it! What is worse? - what if it wasn’t your company’s fault but rather the chosen vendor’s fault? What a pity, no? A responsible background verification company will take these data security compliances into account and proactively comply with them in advance.

HR brethren, do you still think a ‘cheap’ background verification vendor is worth it?

Final Thoughts

building trust

I believe I have made my case, probe the above 3 topics with your prospective background verification agency and do not compromise on quality. BGV processes are improving with API based solutions however, those are database checks and negative checks at that. Verification still happens in large part through physical visits. There are agencies who are good at the business of background verification and then there are agencies who are good at performing background verification. Turn Around Time (TAT) is usually 15-21 days depending on your checks, so do not be gullible if some agency claims to do it in under a week. Transparency and customer service by the BGV agency is also highly desired, especially in cases of delays or unforeseen circumstances. Don’t risk losing a star candidate who was put off by your background verification vendor and joined your competitor. Choose right choose quality always!
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Millow offers comprehensive background verification solutions that are enabled by the largest database searches along with cutting-edge technology to create an environment of trust for organizations.