The "underbelly" of background checks refers to the potential negative aspects or limitations of conducting background checks. The following are some of the potential issues and limitations:
Background checks may contain errors or outdated information, which can lead to incorrect conclusions about a candidate or subject of the investigation.
Background checks may reveal sensitive personal information that could infringe on an individual's privacy. Most employers will obtain a signed Authorization For Background Check and they will make the completed authorization a condition to proceed with the employment application.
Background checks can perpetuate existing biases, such as discrimination against people with criminal records. Investigators must also place their own biases in check and be completely fair with their subjects as they go through the process of researching the present and past of each individual. *ON A SIDE NOTE: from time-to-time, I review old reports and look for this as well as evaluate if I could have done more. Lessons learned from this review process are applied to future background investigations and reports. I also like to review reports from other investigators to be on the cutting edge within my industry in terms of the data being provided so that I can provide maximum value to my clients.**
TIME AND COST
Background checks can be time-consuming and costly for both the employer and the candidate. Investigation agencies also bear a cost in preparing these reports. Many investigation agencies charge a flat fee for background checks so the longer they spend researching and preparing a report, the more their profit margin shrinks. There is a break-even point with all background checks when they charge a flat-fee for this service. Investigative agencies will sometimes factor in this possibility and either charge a higher rate up front, or they will stop the background check as soon as they see the subject's background is more involved than normal and they will re-negotiate an hourly rate. The worst case scenario is when the investigative agency or investigator does neither and they try to cram as much information into a report as possible well before a break-even point so they can still make a profit. When this happens, a lot of information can be missed and the client will not have a complete picture of the subject or candidate to make an informed decision.
There are various laws and regulations that govern background checks, and employers must be aware of these to avoid potential legal issues.
Overall, while background checks can provide valuable information, it is important to be aware of their limitations and to use them responsibly.