Beware – A small leak can sink a great ship

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Blog Image… Tight timelines for recruitment
… Mad rush to close vacant positions
… Pressure to get the candidate with right fit
… Long process of recruitment
… Hiring a candidate is a tough deal
…One has to take many things into consideration to make a final decision.

These pressures many a times engage a manager, get them entwined, that they miss out on the most crucial aspect of bringing in a new employee – Background Check!

Pre-employment background checks have become increasingly common at most workplaces now. Earlier it was considered an unnecessary expense, now it’s a necessity. This paradigm shift in perception was ushered in post September 11, 2001 and 26/11 back here at home. In India 26/11 shook up the Indian corporate world, who then within days got their entire team’s backgrounds verified.

Ideally, finding and hiring a right candidate is not the end of a recruitment process. Background screening is the final however most crucial step of the recruitment process.

Most managers even now in the mad rush to close open positions disregard this crucial step. That’s why we recommend, that this has to be incorporated in the recruitment SOP. The moment the right candidate has been shortlisted, the offer letter issued, should mention, that a background check shall be initiated and only on a clear report being obtained will the candidate be on-boarded and issued an appointment letter.

In case of a negative background verification report, the offer letter stands null and void. Then the next best candidate can be issued an offer letter. Only once this process has been made a standard practice, will we never fail to get a candidate verified.

A carefully designed application form should include employee background check to get more details about the desired candidate. It is necessary to count upon past work experience, educational qualifications, job records, drug screening, criminal records and other verification parameters to onboard ideal candidates and create a safe working environment.

Considering the increasing cases of fudged job records and fake degrees, employee background screening is a must for small, medium and large business organizations.

There should be a well-defined screening process for all the new candidates. It should be executed in the same manner to avoid discrimination amongst employees at various levels.

Always remember…

Background screening should not be listed like just another task on your to-do list. It should be given the importance that it truly deserves.

Beware – A small leak can sink a great ship.

Iterative Background verification

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There was a perfect candidate for a vacancy and he was a sought after candidate. A renowned company hired him. His post background verification was all clear and he was hired. Two years passed by and he progressed to higher roles and responsibilities.

It was a good time for him professionally but bad on his personal front. He was in a lot of debt. He was in a lot of stress. To top it all, he took to taking drugs.

His organization was not aware about the recent developments in his life; they were very happy with the way he was progressing. His organization had full faith in him.

He was depressed and needed some extra money. He was not a bad person but the situation was extremely adverse. No one was there for him. So he took an extreme step.

He took a wrong measure to get some extra money a year back, but his organization is still paying the price.

With frauds and crime on a high, can companies take the chance of neglecting background verification during recruitments?

Maybe not.

Most organizations are strictly following background verification process during recruitment. If any candidate fails the background verification check, he is not taken in. On the other hand, the ones who clear the same are brought on-board.

Is it possible that the same employee after joining the organization may fall prey to bad habits like drugs or may commit an unnoticed crime beyond the premises of organization?

Of course, it is.

In the above situation, the employee was a good catch. He was given additional responsibility and a better role. In short, more power. The more powerful an employee, the more vulnerable the organization.

What’s the solution?

Iterative background verification.

12octWhenever there is a promotion, salary is revised. When there is change in address, profile is updated. When there is new addition in employee’s family, his/her insurance card or other benefits are updated.

Now all these are good, but there may be some updates on the personal side as well. Like a home violence complaint against the employee, or a drug addiction or some other kind of criminal complaint. If an employee doesn’t tell, it’s difficult for an organization to know.

Simple solution is – whenever a promotion is granted, repeat the background verification process. Or, like a revised annual salary, have revised background verification as well, every year.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Once there is a harm, it takes years together to get back. Let’s not be penny-wise, pound-foolish!

Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for September 2017

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Here are the high level monthly discrepancy statistics for September 2017.
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We observed that 2% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

Next, let us look at the breakup of the discrepancies to identify further which types of components (checks) were the source of these discrepancies. These discrepancies were in employment verification (accounting for 16.7% of the total discrepancy) and education verification (accounting for 83.3% of the total discrepancy).

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Brace yourself for social media scans!

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Social media has become a necessity, a medium of communication, a status symbol, an influencer or a habit. Everyone has been touched by social media. It has become an integral part of our lives. All of us freely share our thoughts, positive or negative with the rest of the world. A survey says these are most popular reasons for sharing information on social media:

29th sept

Let’s assume two gentlemen – Mr. X and Mr. Y.

Mr X was a young promising individual. He led a dual life – professional and personal. In his  professional life, he worked for a renowned  firm. He had sound technical knowledge and was a part of a very critical project with highly confidential data.

His personal life was a complete social one, at least on the social media platforms. He had thousands of followers on various social media platforms. He loved to update his each and every achievement on all platforms without fail.

The professional project he was working for was a prestigious one and just to flaunt his status in his company and to show off his important role in that project, he leaked little ‘harmless’ data. 

 Well, he had to give a resignation after that and the company suffered a great loss. There was no malice in his heart but his ignorance and desire to flaunt his status in that crucial project, was very expensive for both him and his organisation. 

 He left that job, found another and life went on.

At present, he is part of another important project.  

 Mr Y was a very aggressive and promising employee of another organization. Whether the project was strictly time lined or the resources scarce, he used to finish the project in his hand on time. Always! He was the kind of resource who was hard to find.  

 There was a time, when the company was not doing very well in the market and hence it didn’t give increments to its employees. It happened for three consecutive quarters. This situation is not uncommon. It happens!

 Mr Y didn’t take this well and found another job for himself. This opportunity matched his expectations. 

 He updated his new found job on social media, an absolute mandatory step in current times; He expressed his happiness for his new found job and along with that, he also posted a negative comment about his previous organization. 

An employee of three years posting a negative comment on his social media platform, does it harm the company’s goodwill? Anyhow at the moment, Mr. Y is at a good position in the same company he joined later, but the market is not that good, again!

These are real life scenarios. It happens. But are organization of today ready for such employees?

You can’t buy goodwill, you can only earn it! We all need to be more responsible when we work for an organization and if not, will the organizations have to pay the price?

Of course not!

Social media scans are here. It helps organizations to verify the potential candidate on the social media front too. It scans various social media and business networking sites, blog sites, micro blogging sites, photo/video sharing sites, and other web resources to flag any potentially negative information about the potential candidate.

Mr X and Mr Y both, are at responsible positions, but who wants to take a chance, they might not make the same mistake! Or they may! Who knows? It’s always better to be safe than be sorry!

 

Source: https://www.simplilearn.com/real-impact-social-media-article

Beware of what you post on social media – You are being scanned!

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Have you got an objectionable picture on Facebook?

A furious political comment on Twitter?

Open affiliation to certain ‘questionable’ forums/communities?

Are you flaunting’ socially questionable’ actions on social media?

Hold your horses, before impulsively posting your views on social media platforms!

Today, everyone is on social media! It’s become a norm to be socially active on these platforms. A lot many companies sweep their prospective candidate’s social media posts and feeds. Social media has made it a cakewalk for employers to map your interests, activities and affiliations. The manager hiring you doesn’t need to spend time with you to figure you out, they just need to spend time on your social media handles and bingo and they can picture your personality.

So, for a potential candidate seeking employment, social media provides an opportunity to look up the company and vice versa.

Social media today is literally all over the globe. Recently LinkedIn crossed the 10 million users mark in India and Facebook tops the chart with around 34.6 million active registered users in India. Twitter, though arrived late on the scene, will soon touch 16 million Indian users. These statistics clearly reflect why every company today has its presence on social media. LinkedIn too is slowly catching up.

I would like to share with you a personal experience. A fellow classmate of mine 10 years ago, while we were awaiting our placements, was offered a PPO (Pre placement offer) with the company he interned with. He was hailed a hero in the class! Rightly so, as he was the only one who was given a PPO. Those days Facebook hadn’t really caught up, Orkut was ‘the’ thing then! He had liked a page on Orkut which badmouthed the company. The title of the group was – ‘We Hate XXX’. He also had posted a comment there, putting forth a few things he didn’t like about the company. Within a few days, he received a letter from the companies HR stating, they withdraw the PPO extended to him. Reason cited was, he was inciting hate towards the company and badmouthing the company in public. They had enclosed a print screen shot of his comment and proof that he was a member of that community on Orkut. Even 10 years back, companies would scan social media platforms to keep a track of their employees/ prospective employees. Organizations are right on their part, why would they want to absorb a candidate who at the outset is disengaged and disloyal to the organization. I learnt a lesson of not ever badmouthing my organization on social platforms, early in my career.

While many in my class objected to this ‘unfair decision’, organizations are justified on their part to ascertain a candidate’s fitment for a position determined by his social media posts and pictures. The reality is that social networking handles of candidates talk a lot about their personality, interests and disposition in general. For example: – Using vulgar language, bad mouthing on social media could suggest behavioral issues such as immaturity and inability to resolve conflicts amicably. Similarly, endorsing grapevine about the private affairs of other people is a sign of spreading rumors and gossip that could impact their ability to function in a role that demands confidentiality.

In a recent case, a company hired a candidate after doing a professional background check, but missed out on a social media scan. Later, the employee displayed murderous tendencies by attempting to harm his girlfriend with a knife, following a domestic spat. When the company approached the police for help, they were questioned about whether a background check was conducted. It was then found, when his social media activity was made public, that he had a tendency towards violence. They found violent content on his social media platform.

By extending the verification to include social media, it can aid in gauging any extremist behavior and help avoid problematic incidents. It also serves as an indicator of a candidate’s work ethics and temperament.

Let’s look at few parameters which a company might use to undertake a social media check:

• Companies might easily trace employees who badmouthed their previous employers, based on their comments or status updates.

• Excessive twittering or round the clock activity on social media, might point out an employee’s lack of dedication towards his/her job during office hours.

• Obvious drug use.

• Discussing private company information.

• Comments containing racial slurs and other offensive language. Although it’s a personal profile, conclusions can be drawn on how a particular candidate thinks and reflect his/her sensitivity.

Social networking sites are here to stay and hence it’s necessary for both the employers and employees to ensure that they maintain certain ethical guidelines. We don’t suggest you to be weary of expressing your personal, political, social views. However, ensure, they don’t work against you in the future. It would be prudent to weigh carefully what you post; after all it is a public platform. As employers are increasingly viewing social media pages to evaluate if candidates are worthy of hiring and culturally fit in, it is advised to be careful about what you post online.
Brace yourself for social media scans!

Blog Image

Travel Agency – Background Verification

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I went to shop at a hyper market and there was a well suited man, who was doing some survey. Being a fresh pass out of an MBA college and knowing the pain of getting these surveys filled, I instantly filled the survey. It was an interesting survey for a well known travel agency and I was happy to fill it. To add to my excitement, there were few FREE gifts too.

I filled the survey and forgot about it. After a few days, I got a call about the lucky draw and the gifts which I won. I was supposed to go to their office at a particular time, to collect the same.

Unfortunately, I, along with a friend, went ahead to collect various gifts. Before handling over me the gift, they requested us to see their holiday packages and other offerings. It didn’t sound very weird, so we sat to get some information. There were many couples and families with kids, who were getting information on the packages. All the set up looked quiet real to me and to my friend too; they started showing all the offers they had just for that particular hour of the day, and trust me, the offers were just amazing. I fell in love with the offers, the photos and the whole feeling and impression, they created in my head. After an hour or so, I ended up paying around Rs. 15000. They wanted me to pay around Rs. 45000. I didn’t have that much money so I informed them that I will get it done by the next day.

Then the first suspicious thing happened – they started behaving very weirdly. They were really pushing me to pay the entire amount. Then it started smelling like a rotten fish. After coming back from their office, when I explored their whereabouts on net, I realised that I was duped, fooled and cheated. The very next day, I went to that place again, there was no trace of those people.

A 2016 report states that the travel industry does the maximum online transaction –

chart1

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many travel agencies in India, registered or unregistered. Almost all of them have one thing in common, the flashy tour packages, beautiful location, amazing pictures of family/friends enjoying and a perfect plan for you. Their employees have impeccable communication skills and incredible convincing power. If you talk to them, everything seems to be so dreamy – location wise, price wise, food-wise and in every way possible.

Reality is something else. India is facing a new challenge in the tourism sector. Below chart shows the same –

chart 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online money transactions involved in this sector makes it very vulnerable sector. The fraud is on high rise. People have paid the travel agents in lacks per head or even in crores for nothing.

Few cases which were reported were:

A group of people, who paid lakhs per head for a luxurious trip to a hill station and were promised a personal Volvo bus, were stuffed in already packed buses.

A family booked a resort through an agent, did the entire money transaction, just to find out that there was no booking done for that resort.

One gentleman was cheated to the tune of about one crore rupees in the name of an international tour package.

These are just a few reports which made headlines; there are many reported and unreported frauds which happen in the name of tourism every day.

How are we ever going to curb such things?

Of course, background verification.

Before doing any money transaction, everyone must do a background check of the travel agent – personally or by a third party. Even before buying a small thing, we do read the reviews. What’s the harm in reading about the travel agent you are dealing with.

If there are only few reviews online and still you want to confirm about a perfect trip and of course, if the amount is huge for the travel, being sure about the trip ahead is more sensible. Verifying a tour agency is much cheaper than paying an entire amount in lakhs per person or crores and getting duped. At least, we will know what to expect from the travel agency.

With the way time is changing, where schools have also become a crime place, it’s better to plan a trip with a travel agent whose background verification result is clear. This keeps our plan as expected and safe and sound! So, let’s be informed and let’s be strong. What do you think?

Chart 1- http://gtw3.grantthornton.in/assets/ASSOCHAM_E-commerce_in_India.pdf
Chart 2 – http://www.in.kpmg.com/FraudSurvey2012/Reports/KPMG%20India%20fraud%20survey%202012.pdf

Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for August 2017

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Here are the high level monthly discrepancy statistics for August 2017.

Image 1

We observed that 1.2% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

Next, let us look at the breakup of the discrepancies to identify further which types of components (checks) were the source of these discrepancies. These discrepancies were in employment verification (accounting for 75% of the total discrepancy) and address verification (accounting for 25% of the total discrepancy).

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Schools and a new need – background verification

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Guru Goviund doiu Khade, Kake lagu pav
Balihari guru apne, Govind diyo bataye!

Once, Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati were holding court when all deities were paying their respect to them. While this was going on, suddenly Lord Shiva stood up, turned and offered namaskaram to someone. Devi Parvati was very surprised and asked who was the recipient of namaskaram of God of Gods – Lord Shiva?

Lord Shiva, after taking blessing from him, spoke to Devi Parvati and said he was honouring – the Guru!

Exactly that position is held by gurus in India. We give that much respect to our gurus-teachers. And why not, after all they are the ones who lead us from darkness to light.

Let’s see few headlines from newspapers:

A 42-year-old headmaster of a private school in Puducherry’s Karaikal district has been arrested on the charge of sexually harassing a kindergarten girl student, 5-years old.

 A physical education teacher of a government aided higher secondary school in Tamil Nadu has been arrested on the charge of sexually harassing a Class 8 girl student.

 A secondary grade teacher of a primary school at Sultanpet, on the outskirts of the city, was suspended for allegedly sexually harassing a Class 5 student.

 An eight years old girl from Maxfort School, Rohini, Delhi was molested by a teacher for a second time in April this year, the last time being in August last year, within the school premises. 

 Another incident that came into light was that of one of Bangalore’s Vibgyor High school, where a six year old girl was allegedly molested by a school staff person.

 The headmaster of a government school in West Bengal was arrested today for allegedly sexually harassing several schoolgirls.

These are just a few incidents which were reported and hence came to our notice; you can well imagine the number of cases which go unreported!

Children are extremely vulnerable and the place which should protect them is where all these heinous crimes have happened. Few teachers, whom we refer to as gurus, have become predators! Instead of protecting the children, they have chosen a disgusting alternate path.

The first thing that comes to mind is – What’s wrong with the world?

Well, I guess in such a time, we need to protect our children, even in schools. How do we protect children in schools? What is the way out?

Background Verification!

Your mind may say – Why, why background verification for school-associated employees and how is it going to curb such incidents?

Another recent incident –

A teacher behaved inappropriately with the student and when the administrator came to know the same, he was sacked. The parents were too weak to report the case; they felt their child will have a bad name. School didn’t report out of fear of having a bad name too. So, the teacher was simply shown the door.

This teacher took up another teaching job in another school. He repeated the same thing there too.

Had the new school done background verification on this teacher, the new school wouldn’t have hired him and most importantly, a child’s faith on a school and on the world wouldn’t have been destroyed.

schoolI guess, time has come when we need to turn few pages of every one’s lives to see, if that person is worth the responsibility! Every school should be proud to have all employees, who pass background verification tests. Background check results should be one of the strongest points to attract more parents to get their child/children enrolled in that school. And why not, safety comes before everything!

The ones, who are in danger, are the ones who need us to protect them. If any damage is done, it is going to be there throughout their lives. Their faith is going to be devastated. The damage is permanent!

Let’s take this seriously. Let’s take this up urgently. Information holds power – let’s be informed, let’s be powerful and let us keep the faith of our children – intact.

How Safe Really Are Our Children In School?

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Blog ImageI sit to write this blog after reading the horrendous news of last week’s incident of the alleged rape of a 4-year-old girl at a Mumbai school by a peon. As the mother of a 5 year old myself, it breaks my heart to think of the anguish and trauma the little child must have gone through and what the distraught parents must be going through themselves.

Cases that were brought forth by the media recently:-

1. KVM Ludhiana sexual assault case – School under scanner for concealing offence, girls aged 3 to 6 from primary section were being sexually assaulted and molested by the staff of the school.

2. Nainital: Parents of a six-year-old girl student, along with city residents, staged a protest outside a private school in Haldwani accusing a staff member of sexually assaulting their daughter and demanding his immediate arrest.

3. Bengaluru: The alleged sexual assault on a three-year-old girl in the Marathahalli franchise of a preschool chain on Feb 17, 2017 triggered a campaign by angry parents.

4. Mumbai: Director of an international school in Mumbai booked for sexually abusing 3-year-old.

Schools today market their infrastructure, facilities, faculty, curriculum, etc. How come no schools markets – providing a ‘Safe and secure environment’ to the children. Either it’s not important enough or it’s implied, that providing a safe and secure environment goes without saying. Well, if it does, why do we see such news? Where are we going wrong?

Our government has framed policies to reduce the weight of our kid’s school bags, yet we haven’t framed a policy that focuses on our children’s safety within the school premises.

Last year it was made mandatory for schools both private and government to install CCTV cameras on the school premises. This too was issued when the Mumbai high court brought up a case in which a junior school student was assaulted by a school staff. Media post this order, again brought to light 2 assault cases on school premises. It can be said, that the aforementioned order did not bring in any significant change and neither was it a deterrent of any sort.

Being subject matter experts in verification services, we recommend, that schools should instate strict policies while hiring teachers, staff and support staff. A school/ educational institution needs to be extremely careful while hiring its staff.

Not only should a school be screening staff on their educational qualifications but should also be screening their criminal background, address, ID’s and social media presence. Most schools save time, money and effort when it comes to background checks. How many more incidents will it take for schools to take this check seriously?

We protect our child/children with utmost care while they are with us. What do we do when they are out of our care? In schools, for example, where the onus of responsibility for the child shifts on other people. We as parents and guardians have to put our foot down and demand that schools verify the staff they bring on board.

It’s time to get assertive, it’s time to ensure our children’s schools begin screening new recruits and verify the existing ones!

Let’s make our schools safe and secure!

Background verification – Finding new grounds

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Background verification, at the moment, doesn’t need an introduction. The number of crimes, frauds, cheats, scams and similar drama has increased, and so has the need for background verification. Background verification started for the white collar employees and has spread its wings to blue collar and pink collar employees, brides, grooms, tenants and so on. The list is now endless.

All of us want to be safe rather than being sorry. Isn’t it?

Recently, I met an old friend of mine. Generally a happy girl looked quiet sad and her husband was also in some kind of shock. Eventually, she mentioned the reason for the sadness. Well, all I can say is, just a bit of presence of mind and a bit of more carefulness, could be have changed the cards completely.

This couple were looking for a good land deal. From the online sites, dealing in real estates, they found a piece of land, at a suitable location and the budget was within their reach. They contacted the dealer.

After a few meetings, the deal was closed. The couple personally checked all the original documents. They wanted to be sure. Being novice at land dealings, trust was a factor which convinced them more than the documents.

They were super convinced by the dealer and had faith that he, being such an old man, won’t do any wrong. The dealer also cooperated well and showed all the documents.

They chose an auspicious date and the deal was sealed and they assumed, that the land was theirs now.

Now, in many land deals, there are no loan facilities. You have to pay in cash/cheque/draft. This couple paid in cheque. The entire amount. A huge amount. Their entire savings.

After purchasing that land, they met an architect, showed him their land, shared how their house should look like and got the whole blue print, for their new house, ready. They were quite excited about the entire project, and these few months were like a dream come true.

The blue print was sent to the municipal corporation for approval. The result came as a nightmare.
The same plot has been registered under three different names.

They did a police complaint and everything, but the person who sold them the land is still not caught. Their money is gone. All of it.

16 augThis is not something which is uncommon these days. What’s the escape?

When investing such a huge amount of money, can’t we add in a simple step before closing a deal? Background verification.

If this couple had undertaken a background verification for the plot, the fraudulent seller would have been in the lockup. The entire history of who owned the land and when and who is the owner of the land at this moment, would be out.

Their hard earned money would be still with them. Safe.

Just to save some time and some money, don’t lose everything you own. Next time you think of a good plot, think of background verification. It’s time to be smarter. Information is currency, get a background verification done.