Background checks and our Educational system

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Education maketh a man and an educated man makes for a progressive nation. In our country the role of a teacher has always been a revered one. A teacher is instrumental in developing curiosity, knowledge and character in his/her disciples. This exalted position is now under threat of losing its illustrious reputation, thanks to the number of unqualified people that have started faking their entry into academia.

Educational institutes need to set up a multi level hiring process and make employee background verifications a pre-requisite for application. It’s in the institute’s benefit to place new hires as temps, scrutinize their work and then convert them to full time employees. This will also allow the background verification service provider the time to carry out a thorough and detailed check.

The background check process for new hires in an educational institute can be complicated. The elements to consider in this process include:

  1. Feedback from previous or current students: The best insight into the job seekers previous performance can be provided by their students. If possible the background check company should take feedback from the job seeker’s ex-students and provide a report about the same to the new employer.
  2. Propensity to pursue new qualifications: The candidate under consideration should be given extra brownie points if he/she shows the enthusiasm or eagerness to pursue new qualification. This can be verified by checking on the ongoing qualifications that the candidate may have mentioned on the application form. This is an important aspect to consider as a candidate that pursues newer qualifications will be able to impart the most up-to-date knowledge to his/her students.
  3. Involvement with extremist parties or ideologies: Any involvement of the candidate under scrutiny with extremist parties should raise an immediate red flag and lead to immediate disqualifications of the job application. As a teacher, a person has immense power to influence young minds, any nurturing of these young fragile minds in the wrong directions can have derogative effects.
  4. Criminal check: The other important background check to consider is the criminal check. This helps verify whether the candidate has committed any criminal offence in the past and its severity. A teacher’s responsibility is not limited to imparting knowledge but also to develop moral values in his/her students. A criminal record for a job applicant can imply a lack of judgment or a total disregard for rules and regulations. In any case presence of a criminal record should be a cause for immediate disqualification.

The other employee verifications to consider are the address and education verifications. Both of these are equally important in providing further insight into the candidate’s qualifications and background.

It is as much our responsibility, as the schools, to ensure that the right people are overseeing our children’s development. We should ensure that the school mandates background checks not just for the teaching staff but also for all the other employees. Having our children develop and grow in a safe and secure environment is the best gift that we can impart to them.

We at JantaKhoj understand this need and provide background service to assist educational institutes choose the right person. Reach us on 040 42007092 or sales@jantakhoj.com to get a free sample of the employee background verification services we provide.

Background Check Lessons learnt from the Fake Pilots Scam

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A couple of days back the fake pilot scam rocked the nation. The scam, continues to uncover the depth of corruption in the hiring process and the fraudulent practices carried out by the job seekers to get their dream job. Below is a list of a few things we can learn from this scam.

1.   Background checks are essential across all industry verticals: Currently background checks are usually  more prevalent in IT, ITES (BPO), banking/financial, and telecom sectors. Background checks should be an inherent part of the hiring process across all industry verticals. If cost is a constraint then the employer should ask for a customized  background check package and have the elements most critical to the job profile verified. Example: for a security guard job it is important that the applicant does not have any criminal record.

2.   Background checks should be mandatory at all levels of hiring: Background check should be made mandatory irrespective of the position or the level the candidate is being hired into. A check at the entry level dispels the need for a background check at a later stage and prevents any loss of investment in terms of employee training.

3.   Government bodies need to provide access to candidate information: It was difficult to carry out a detailed background check on the pilots involved in the scam due to the lack of access to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) database. The government needs to make a proactive effort to centralize and provide online access to individuals’ non-confidential information.

4.   Background checks need to consider reputation of educational institute: In case of the fake pilot scam the educational certificates were doctored and validated by a dubious flying school. The background checks should mention the ranking or reputation of the institute that provides the degree and leave the final decision up to the discretion of the HR manager.

5.   De-centralize hiring process: In most companies a few select people are responsible for making the hiring decision. De-centralizing the hiring process will decrease corruption, allow for a more thorough screening process and ensure that the right candidate gets the job.

6.   Verification of educational certificates: Use of fake educational certificates is rampant. The background verification company needs to visit the educational institutes provided by the candidate, carry out a thorough check and report discrepancies, if any.

7.   Recurring background checks required: Background checks must be carried out at regular intervals. This will allow validation of any additional qualifications that an employee submits for promotion purposes, allow checks to ensure all paperwork and licenses required for the job are in order and valid.

Backdoor Entry – Background Verification Services to the rescue

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A couple of days back an article in one of the local newspapers caught my eye. At first glance I thought the article would talk about tips for improving resume, acing an interview, etc. But to my horror the emphasis of the article was on the burgeoning IT staffing / consulting firms and the dubious practices followed by them. The dubious practice in question is being termed as a ‘backdoor entry’.

A backdoor entry allows the job seeker to substitute his lack of experience with heavy payouts to the consulting firm. The current going rate for a Rs 5 lakh package job ranges from Rs 1.2 – 2 lakhs. The payouts to the consulting firms are termed as deposits which the job seeker is supposed to get back if he loses his job, within a stipulated period of time. However in almost all cases this amount is never returned back.

The newspaper article also mentions the involvement of the top brass, within the hiring company, in facilitating backdoor entries. Those involved are provided kickbacks by the consulting firms to ensure that the candidate clears the interview and is selected for the desired position.

This creates a vicious circle causing damage not just to the fresher who bought his way into a well paying job but also for the experienced candidate that would now have to grease the hands of the consulting firms to get the job that he deserves. The only winners in this process are the consulting firms and the top brass from the hiring companies that indulge in this nefarious practice.

If we dissect the entire process we see that there are three parties involved

1.     The job seeker

2.    Consulting firms and

3.    Top brass in the hiring company that indulge in this practice.

And the cause for everybody getting away scot-free is the total lack of transparency in the hiring process.

This fraudulent practice can be easily counteracted by following a multi pronged approach wherein the HR department works in close collaboration with an external employee background verification company to carry out thorough background checks. It’s almost coincidental that in our previous post we had talked about the importance of carrying out background checks on temporary or contract hires.

The steps for combating this practice are outlined below:

1.     Companies should mandate background verification for all new employees – whether they work full or part time. This will prevent any laxity in screening a new candidate.

2.    The background verification process should be outsourced to a third party. This will allow the company to get a detailed background check, free from any biases.

3.    The credibility of the information provided by the background verification service provider needs to be continuously monitored. This can be done by the HR manager carrying out random checks on the information being provided.

4.    A more radical step – the background check results for a candidate, specifically the professional and educational checks, can be stored on a public server within the company and made accessible to all employees. This will not only allow the other employees to know the new hire better but will also provide a check against hiring based on biases.

Implementing the above process is not such a tall order. It just requires commitment and discipline from both the hiring company and the background verification service provider to inject the best talent in our work stream.

We at JantaKhoj can help you verify the right candidate.  Reach us on 040 42007092 or sales@jantakhoj.com to get a free sample of the employee background verification services we provide.

Background Checks – A requisite for Temporary Hires

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According to the Teamlease Annual Report 2011, temporary staff hiring is up by as much as 19 percent in the year 2010 for IT and salary increments are between 10 percent and 12 percent. Automobile, Telecommunication and Healthcare follow, with about 15 percent growth, and with salary raises between 9 percent and 10 percent. These numbers are predicted to see a sharp increase as more and more companies turn towards temporary staff providers for their employment needs.

A temporary employee (temp) is usually hired for adminstrative work and at times for projects that require very high level of specialization. A company hires a temp to be free from any liabilities i.e. running payrolls, providing insurance etc. that result from hiring a full time employee. However, in their enthusiasm companies forget that they can be held responsible for any misconduct by a temporary employee.

The current trend in hiring a temp is that the company lets the staffing agency worry about the quality of the temp provided. In some cases the interview is also carried out by the staffing agency. As demand for temporary staff increases, the staffing company maybe tempted to become lenient in its hiring process and place people that do not match the employee standards for a given company.

Also a company may want to go the temp-to-full time hire route wherein they hire a person from a staffing agency, review his/her work over a stipulated period of time and then offer the temp the option to join the company on a full time basis. A thorough background check would provide a company with the required information and insight to make the right decision.

Given the high employee attrition rates, it is imperative that each new addtion to a company’s work force be thoroughly scrutinized to provide a conducive work environment for all employees. Companies do not want to bear the pre-employment expenditures i.e. background checks, in hiring a temporary employee. In doing so companies fail to understand the importance of background check and can expose themselves to negligent hiring lawsuits that may arise from any acts of misconduct carried out by a temporary employee.

Companies hiring a temp can pass the cost of background check to the staffing companies. The background check should be thorough and must include address, education verification, criminal check and employment verification. Companies may have to shell out a premium when they demand a background check for each temporary employee but this cost would pale in comparison to the long term savings that result from hiring the right candidate.

It is also important that the staffing companies use a known and well established background check service. The background check service being hired should provide documentation for all the checks performed. We at Jantakhoj understand the importance of background checks in hiring the right candidate. Reach us on 040 42007092 or sales@jantakhoj.com to get a free sample of the employee background verification services we provide.

Employee Background Verification and its effect on Employee Turnover Rate

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In our past articles we have listed the qualitative benefits for conducting an in-depth background check. Most of the HR managers agree with the fact that a thorough background check is the best aid in finding a qualified and dependable employee that can be a long term player and a driving force in the company’s growth. Others however need more convincing and some numbers to help them make the transition from a skeptic to a believer. In this post I have tried to quantify the Return On Investment (ROI) for a background check and dispel any skepticism for the need to carry out employee background verification.

Before we take out our calculators and start crunching numbers, it is important to understand the cost involved when a employee leaves an organization. The simplest way to chalk out the costs involved is to detail the employee lifecycle which begins with the hiring process and ends with the employee leaving the company.

The costs associated with the employee lifecycle can be outlined as below:

1.     Pre-Hiring Costs: Includes advertising costs. These costs include the cost for posting in daily classifieds, job boards, social media, commissions for third party recruiters, etc. These costs are variable and depend on the position to be filled. An executive level post is harder to fill than an entry level one, and requires more impression and exposure and has more costs associated with it.

2.    Screening Costs: These costs include the time spent by the HR department in screening through the resumes received and short listing a set of candidates for the first round of interview.

3.    Interviewing Costs: This cost is highly variable and depends on the pay scale of the interviewer’s and the number of interview rounds involved. Example. If an interviewer is earning Rs 50,000 per month and interviews a new hire for 2 hour then the cost associated would be Rs 313per hour.

4.    Administration Costs: Once the desired candidate has been finalized, the administration costs kick in. This refers to the costs associated with putting together the relevant paper work, setting up the new hires work space, among others.

I have purposefully left out the costs associated with carrying out a thorough background check. We fill factors in this cost in our final ROI analysis.

5.    Training Costs: These costs include induction program costs and the costs associated with providing domain, process, skills or software related trainings.

In today’s market there is no dearth of opportunities for a job seeker. This abundance of job has created unique challenges for HR managers in their effort to hire and retain new talent. Today the employee attrition rate for IT/ITES companies stands at around 25%.

The final cost associated with the employee turnover rate is the Employee attrition cost.

6.    Employee Attrition Cost: This cost occurs when an employee leaves the company and includes both direct and indirect expenses. The direct expense would be the overtime paid to other employees to take over the workload of the employee that left the company. Indirect costs relate to be the summation of all the costs incurred to find and hire a replacement.

To help calculate the employee attrition cost lets head over to http://bit.ly/Employee-Turnover-Calculator and enter the required information. The turnover costs that are estimated based on a 25% attrition rate can be a real eye opener. The resulting expenses are a testament that even a 2% decrease in attrition rate can result in significant savings.

Eventually control over attrition rate boils down to the degree of information and understanding an HR manager can develop about a new hire. The cost incurred for hiring the services of a premium employee verification company pales in comparison to the net saving that can be achieved.

We at JantaKhoj understand the need to be result oriented. We can provide you with the most detailed information about your prospective hire and help you make the most profitable decision. Reach us on 040 42007092 or sales@jantakhoj.com to get a free sample of the employee background verification services we provide.

Could an Improved Background Verifications Process make for a Scam Free India?

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Huh…the title of this article does sound a little absurd, well at least that is what I initially thought. But humor me for a while and read on as I try to put together pieces of this complicated argument.

India has been bogged from times immemorial with scams of varying proportions – be it the Haridas Mundhra scam, the first big financial scandal of free India, to the more recent 2G scam. The story underlining every scam has been the same – excessive greed of a few people and their belief that they can game the Indian system. Given the rate at which new scams are coming to light, gaming the Indian system seems to have become the national pastime.  Is a better system the nirvana for a scam free India? If yes, what are the changes that need to be made and how does background check fit into all this? To answer these questions we will have to understand the ingredients that go into the making of this heady cocktail and devise controls to impede a hangover.

The magnitude of a scam has always been directly proportional to the financial, political clout and connections that the scammer wields. A good scam is a long term game e.g. Madoff investment scandal is spread through word of mouth, and usually plays on the ignorance and greed of the scammee by promising returns that are disproportionately higher than those of the market.

In today’s ecommerce economy there exists a need to convert black money into white. Cash no longer reigns supreme; almost every online, bank transaction is tied to a person’s PAN card number. To legitimize the money earned via these endeavors (scams), it is percolated within family members, invested in real estate through bogus companies setup on family member names and used to purchase gold.

A scam starts because the activity of a certain individual goes unchecked for too long and is made successful by the lack of a centralized information system that can document a person’s personal and professional earnings. In past storing, handling and centralizing the financial records of a billion plus people would have been an arduous task but this feat is achievable today. This centralized information system would be a social media of sorts, that connects people via their financial activities.

The idea is to connect people with each other based on their personal, professional and financial relations. Any erratic change in the financial activities of one individual results in a red flag for all the people within his immediate network and will lead to scrutiny of all their financial records. At this point an offline background verification company can be hired to drill deeper and discover any additional information that can assist in understanding this irregularity better.

This system can be made truly infallible by connecting all the dots with a common identifier. I recognize the UID in its full and true implementation as that common connecter between all financial transactions. To make this system truly robust and international a stipulation that requires all international financial institution’s to request the UID for all transactions, should be tabled. This international transaction information along with the UID needs to be fed into the centralized information system. Hence providing for total assimilation and integration of all financial transactions.

There is need for our government to enforce stricter employment rules including a thorough background verification process for hiring new recruits to any political party. To maintain transparency the services of a third party background verification check company should be availed and the finding for each individual needs to be published online for the general public to view. This initial offline background check will act as a benchmark to compare all future activities.

The above is my attempt to provide a structure for a semi-automated process which is continuously aided by a thorough and ongoing background check. I understand that the process defined by me is in its simplest of form and require a detailed document for real implementation. However all ideas start with a concept and ultimately reach their destined goal.

Please feel free to provide your comments on this article and help us evolve it further.

Employee Verification and Social Media – An HR Manager’s Dilemma

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Technology has affected all aspects of our life and has provided us with new channels for expressing ourselves. All of us today have the ability to stay connected with our friends 24/7, voice our unrestrained opinion via blogs, forums, and promote ourselves via personalized websites. This influx of technology has also resulted in an abundance of jobs in the software industry such as software code writer, Internet marketing manager, among others. As the job opportunities grow in this market so does the need for talent.

This in-depth integration of social media in our daily lives has presented HR managers with unique opportunities and challenges, for screening new talent. Before we proceed and discuss the complications and the judgment call an HR manager needs to make let’s check out a few tools that can be part of an HR manager’s employee background verification arsenal.

1. Employee Verification via Google Search:

The following Google commands can help an HR manager get the ball rolling for a basic online employee background check.

  • Enter the name of the person applying for the job in quotes (“ ”) and Google should be able to pull up internet footprint’s for the candidate in question.

Example: If the candidates name is Hari Sadu then type “Hari Sadu” in the Google search bar. I suggest being a little more detailed and including the person’s location of residence or last job within the quotes i.e. “Hari Sadu Hyderabad.”

  • If the candidate you are hiring is still working in a company, then you could enter:

Site: candidate’s company name “Candidates Name.” Example Site:Microsoft.com “Hari Sadu Hyderabad”

  • You can also head over to the People Search section on the Jantakhoj website to find details about the candidate you are hiring.
  • Yet another option is the bphonebook syntax: the bphonebook command in the Google search bar will help you search business phone numbers. It is especially helpful when the HR manager wants to reach someone in the candidate’s place of employment.

Example: bphonebook:Intel will pull up information to get in touch with Intel

2. Employee Verification via username:

Sometimes people that are professionally related to the Internet marketing field provide their online username in their resume, the username is used to showcase the work they might have done online. An example would be a Social Media expert showcasing the tweaks he has made to his Facebook page, or a person showcasing the quality and/or number of his Twitter followers.

A HR manager can use Pipl or PeekYou to search for a candidate via his/her online username. The query returns the candidates online accounts created with the searched username – consistence in the candidates profile and expertise mentioned, across all the web 2.0 platforms can provide a level of confidence in the candidate’s background.

3. Employee Verification via Who.is:

Usually software programmers refer to a website to showcase their area of expertise. HR can use the Who.Is to check whether the mentioned website belongs to the candidate or not.

Based on the tools mentioned above an HR manager can gather sufficient information about a candidate’s online persona  and its consistency with the information provided during the pre-employment process. Having access to the above information does not necessarily make the decision making process easier.

Participation in blogs and forums kept aside, most of us use Internet as an extension of our personal life and we really don’t have any control over what others post or say about us online. For instance, consider a case wherein an HR manager has two equally qualified candidates that he thinks will make a good fit in the organization. Doing a Google search for the first candidate returns his/her Facebook page. Browsing through the candidate’s page reveals that he has set the necessary privacy filters. However, the HR manager finds pictures of the first candidate on his friends Facebook page that show him smoking and drinking.

On doing a similar check on the second candidate, Google returns  pages that reflects only his/her educational and professional accomplishments. The question that arises for consideration is to what extent an HR manager should take into account information extracted from social media sites.

Most of us live two different lives. On one hand, we maintain a very professional demeanor in the work place and on the other we tend to be entirely different at home. Adding this additional information that is gleaned from social media sites to the mix makes the decision making process taxing.

The rate at which technology is evolving and the impact it has on our professional and personal life cannot be ignored. Online sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. can provide invaluable information about a candidate during the pre and post-employment cycle. The missing piece of information that can help HR managers build  an unbiased decision is to have an in-depth employer, educational, address and criminal check done for the candidate under scrutiny. The cumulative offline and online information collected about the candidate can help eliminate any confusion resulting from a partial view of the employee’s background.

We at JantaKhoj can help you make a concrete decision about the candidate you might hire.  Reach us on 040 42007092 or sales@jantakhoj.com to get a free sample of the employee background verification services we provide.

Employee Background Check & Employee Infidelity

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The news of employee infidelity such as the one involving Citibank’s wealth manager or of the senior candidate who was hired as a practice head and was found to have furnished fake IIT and IIM certificate’s forced me think whether adherence to a strict and thorough employee background check policy across all companies would have averted these incidents and could have provided better opportunities for more deserving candidate’s. The second train of thought was if these people had managed to survive so long with forged credentials then they would have done a terrific job in covering their tracks and in making people believe in their educational and professional qualifications. Would employee background checks really help and if yes, how?

Before diving into the intricacies of an employee background check I think it is important to have a little understanding of human psychology. As human’s, most of us have a tendency to exaggerate our accomplishments. For some of us, it becomes a source of false but nevertheless, much needed confidence but for some it becomes a tool of trickery. Again most of us are afraid to lie from the fear of getting caught and from the rebuke that might follow, whereas for others lies become a source of false bravado and lulls them into thinking that they can trick anybody. However, there’s only one constant that remains unchanged for all of us, our past track record, which is open to scrutiny through an employee background check in a job applicant scenario.

A person trying to hide his past is akin to building a house from a pack of cards, all it needs is just one card to be displaced for the entire house to come crashing down. A thorough employee background check can help find discrepancies in the persons past that could lead to a better understanding of the candidate’s profile. I would not say that an employee background check is the be all and end all of hiring and retaining an employee – a lot also depends on the HR manager’s judgment and expertise. Employee background check, however, does provide a solid foundation for superior decision making.

We at JantaKhoj understand the need for gathering and providing companies with thorough employee background checks to allow them to make transparent, unbiased and uninfluenced decisions in their endeavor to hire and retain new talent.

Give us a call on 040 42007092 or reach us at sales@jantakhoj.com for a free demo of the services we offer.

The Employee that Lasted….

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India is Rising and so are the job opportunities. This positive growth has created a unique challenge for all companies and specifically for HR departments in their effort to hire and maintain talent. The challenges are two fold, the first task in hiring a new candidate is an employee background check be it address, education qualifications, previous employment and/or CTC verification. At this point the HR department usually reaches out to an external agency that specializes in background checks and helps validate the credentials as provided by the candidate. This process though helpful has its limitations as this validation is partially guided by the candidate. In almost all cases the HR department and in turn the background verification  agencies only reach out to the references provided by the candidate, thus providing the candidate with the freedom to furnish references that are likely to provide a feedback that is to his/her advantage.

The second task, beyond the preliminary background checks is to ensure that the candidate in question is going to be a long term player. The HR department tries to get an idea of the candidate’s long term aspirations by looking at the employee background check feedback and by posing questions that may provide insight about the candidate’s stability and long term goals. Then again this rudimentary process is mostly guided by the candidate through canned answers for the posed questions. If background verification is a critical part of employee hire and retention process, then the question arises on the most optimal and efficient path to follow for employee background checks.

Let’s take a look at an alternate background verification method that not only steers away from the conventional but also takes away the candidate’s freedom to influence  background checks. The first thought is to hold the employee background check agency  accountable for the feedback provided by requesting documentation for all the background checks that are conducted. Secondly the process of contacting the candidates references needs to be expanded to include the candidate’s other colleague’s, that are not part of the references provided.

The background verification company that is hired should verify the candidate’s house address by visiting the address provided and should confirm the candidate’s residency by talking to the person available. To have a detailed employee background check the relationship of the available person with the candidate can also be documented. Background checks should also include a visit to the candidate’s educational institutes/universities to validate his/her educational qualifications. Any discrepancies in the candidates educational qualifications need to be reported by the background verification company along with  stamped documents from the university.

The other important aspect of reference verification has conventionally been handled by a company’s internal HR department. This process also needs to be outsourced to an employee background check agency. The agency can start by calling the references provided by the candidate and then needs to expand on the background check by including calls to other employees of the company that worked with the candidate. The background verification company can obtain information about the candidate’s other colleagues via LinkedIn or by calling up the company and asking for people in the candidate’s department. This is a very critical process and can provide completely new insights into the candidate’s professionalism and work ethics.

By having access to this plethora of information, an HR manager can make a better and more well informed decision about the candidate’s fit in the organization.

We at JantaKhoj endeavor to make the background verification  process a breeze. To get a free demo of the employee background verification services we provide, reach us on 040 42007092 or sales@jantakhoj.com

All You Wanted to Know About Database Checks

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Continuing the series, we will explore ‘database’ checks in this post.

In the Indian context, database checks can have different interpretations depending upon the specific verification being done, but typically they refer to checking for adverse records in court judgements, criminal investigations, databases covering terrorists, most wanted criminals, members of parties and groups that are on watch list, among others. There are other specialized databases that claim to cover financial frauds and misconduct too.

So to a certain extent, there is an overlap between these database checks and the criminal checks (which we covered in the earlier post on criminal checks).

Challenges: The biggest challenge in this area is lack of any consolidated ‘official’ (government provided) database covering criminal records, terror suspects, most wanted criminals. While the currently available third party solutions have been created by aggregating information across a variety of sources, they still do not cover the entire spectrum of police stations and court records. This may only be possible once the Home Ministry sponsored Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCNTS) project becomes fully operational on 2012 and beyond.

Our recommendation: Select the database checks depending upon your company’s requirement. If you value criminal and terrorist checks, do consider the databases which cover criminal investigations, terrorists and membership lists of banned/watch-listed groups. If the specific role or the organizational domain requires financial due diligence, do subscribe to those database checks which cover financial frauds and misconduct.