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 –

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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 –

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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.

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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.

The ABC of background verification

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In recent times, the term ‘background verification’ seems to be used around a lot, especially in relation with jobs and employment, of any sort. It is only natural to wonder, because its meaning is quite vague, despite being obvious. Questions such as ‘What is a background check?’ or ‘What will be verified?’ are common and crucial to the understanding of background verification.

What is meant by background verification?

A background verification or background check, by definition, refers to a comprehensive review of a person’s criminal, commercial and (often) financial records and history. Employers may perform background verification on present employees, potential candidates for employment and also of existing employees in the fold from time to time. It is done not only to confirm the information given in the job application by potential candidates, but also in order to verify the person’s identity and to ensure that the said individual, does not have a history of criminal activity, financial defaulting, etc that could pose to be an issue upon their employment in the organization. Background verification, at different levels, has become a major aspect of hiring/recruitment or for the purpose of educational application these days.

An overview of the background verification process

The background verification process varies from one organization to another. Typically, at a very basic level, employers will verify if the credentials provided in the application matches not only the supporting documents that were provided, but also the records of the institution or organisation that the candidate previously worked at. Also, checks are undertaken by means of speaking to people who are sure to be objective in their opinion about the person, i.e. previous employers, superiors, mangers, etc.

Drug tests are an important aspect that is often overlooked. Drug testing can bring to light cases of substance abuse, if any. A candidates address – permanent, or current, or both can be verified by a physical visit to the submitted address. Criminal checks are of various kinds – Database, Court record and lawyer check. Herein, an employer can verify if the candidate has had any criminal or civil proceeding against him/her. Candidates submitting identity proofs can also be verified, whether or not they are genuine or fake. As we know, getting a fake ID made doesn’t cost a fortune.

Employers today are going a step ahead and securing their workplaces by getting social media scans done, wherein candidates social media handles are scanned and screened for any unwanted affiliation and association. Also, social media profiles and usage depict volumes about a candidate’s psyche and social/moral inclination.

What is and is not included in a background check?

Aspects like a ‘Character check’ are very sensitive matters and subjective in nature. These cannot be covered or captured by background verification. Also, a candidate’s future behavioural pattern cannot be predicted or forecasted. We can trace patterns, if any unwanted behaviour/s have been documented or been observed. However, future behavioural patterns cannot be outlined by any given check.

Now that you have an idea about the background verification, you can see why it is needed for any potential/existing employee/s. If an employer (be it an individual or a firm or an institution) accepts a candidate for a position without verifying their credentials and background, they may have committed a grave error that could potentially cost them heavily to rectify, if too late. In today’s highly competitive and cutthroat competitive scenario, no individual or organization can afford to make such a blunder.

A background check is the only viable solution, upholding the adage that prevention is better than cure.

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Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for July 2017

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

We observed that 0.5% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

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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 education verification (accounting for 100% of the total discrepancy).

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House help agency – background check

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Once upon a time, Emperor Akbar lost his favourite ring. Birbal came to his rescue. Birbal was a wise man and came up with a completely new idea for catching the thief. Birbal said, “Jahanpanah, the ring is here in the court. It is with one of the courtiers. That courtier, who has straw in his beard, has your ring.”

Instantly, one of the courtiers starting looking for the straw in his beard. He was caught and punished then and there. Ring was recovered.

It was that time, when things were much simpler. Apple and blackberry were just fruits, windows used to be open all the time and friends met face to face. The time has changed. Technology has changed. People have changed. Fraud, theft, scams or shams have become a common thing.

Let’s talk about the need of the hour – house helps. With the advent of the modern era, both the partners work; leaving behind old parents and small kids. House helps and live-in helps are something which have become a necessity.

Talking about a real life incident, a family needed a house help urgently. She found an agency online, which provided full-time, background checked, police verified house helps. She went ahead and called the agency.

The agency informed her that they have a full time house help available at the moment and she has all the required documents. After finalising the salary for the house help, the lady informed the agency that she will personally come and pick up the maid in the evening. The agency lady was a little apprehensive as she was busy in evening. So, the agency lady asked if she can drop the house help right away at her place. The client’s in laws used to stay with her and she didn’t expect any foul play. She was in need. She agreed.

The agency lady brought the house help and all the related documents. Her father in-law checked all the papers, while her mother in-law questioned the house help about her past experience. The parents upon scrutiny found everything fine! They went ahead and gave the agreed amount of Rs. 16,500, in cash. The agency lady gave a receipt for that. She soon left.

It was around three in the afternoon. The house help was an experienced lady and looked comfortable. She went ahead and made tea for the parents. They were very happy and enjoyed their tea. While they were enjoying the tea, she excused herself for going to the washroom. The house help didn’t return for about fifteen minutes, the parents felt a little odd. They went to check on her.

To their shock, the main door was open. The house help was nowhere in the house. They called up their children immediately. All efforts proved futile. They lost a lot of money over a cup of tea. All the documents were fake – the police verification record, the ration card and the information mentioned on the receipt. All!

27julySomehow I feel – that they were still lucky; only money was lost, no one was harmed. The house help could have easily harmed the old parents and taken stuff and gone.

We all are in a hurry. So was this lady. She felt, if she delays, she will have to wait for a month or more. The time has come where we need to take an extra step to be safe – background verification.

Before going ahead and hiring a live-in house help, we should get the agency verified. It will give a clearer picture of what kind of house helps they provide, whether they have provided any replacements before, most important of all, do they really exist. If all these doubts are cleared, get the house help’s background check done. Do not be in a hurry. Be safe.

Being informed is good, as information bring choices and choices brings power. Power to hire a house help and keep your dear ones and yourself safe!

Get background verification done. Be informed. Be safe.

Do you know your tenant?

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Display of unruly behavior, non-payment of rent on time, violence, aggression, verbal abuse, etc – If your tenant displays any of the aforementioned, it’s clearly a sign of a wrong decision made in selecting your tenant. Worse, what if you’re harboring terrorists unknowingly? Is your house being used as a haven by terrorists where they are plotting their next bombing/ hijacking/ kidnapping scheme. Or even worse is there a sex racket taking place in your precious property? Letting your house on tenancy without verifying the credentials of the tenants could land you on the wrong side of the law and with a lot of stress too.

A few months back, the Delhi police swooped down on landlords over the tenant verification rule, 174 FIRs were registered. Most of you will agree that giving a house on rent is not an easy task. It could become a serious headache if not handled properly.

Landlords in big and small cities are no longer taking prospective tenants at their word. Home owners are not penny wise pound foolish, they are getting background checks done on prospective tenants. Tenant’s background verification has truly emerged as a reliable solution capable of shedding light on the tenant’s background. By conducting a background check, which could comprises of ID check, address check, employment, criminal check, among others, you are ensuring the safety and security of your leased property.

As per a magistrate – verification of tenants is mandatory in order to avert grave danger to human life and safety and to prevent injury. Also a verification of tenants is a mandatory statutory and legal requirement by the government of India in many states now.

Screening potential tenants is one of the wisest and most important things to do. What are the benefits of getting a screening done on your prospective tenant:-

1. You can ascertain their address, so that if tomorrow they go absconding or there is a police case against them, you know for sure where their permanent address is.

2. You can get their ID check done to make sure; they are who they claim to be.

3. A criminal verification will ensure you are not letting your property to an anti social element to further his/her anti social ways.

4. Employment verification should be carried out to ascertain where the tenant works and what do they actually do.

These checks are highly recommended by us because each check looks into a different but crucial aspect of the prospective tenant’s profile.

It’s advisable to invest a little time, money and effort now to carry out the tenant verification than to deal with a problem later, when it may get worse and take longer to deal with. Therefore, a stitch in time saves nine!

Domestic help verification – A necessity in urban India!

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Case 1 – A gang of women thieves whose members worked as domestic helps in an upscale area in Delhi was recently busted by Delhi Police. Two women had approached a family based in South Delhi and offered to work there as domestic helps. When turned down, they offered to demonstrate their skills and were let in. But as the family got busy, the two women broke open an almirah and fled with goods worth lakhs.

Case 2 – Residents of an apartment complex in Noida woke up to a riot-like situation on Wednesday morning, when a mob stormed its gates and vandalised the premises. According to the residents, the female domestic help was allegedly caught stealing money from an apartment.

Case 3 – A domestic help was arrested for allegedly stealing gold jewellery worth Rs 10 lakh from the house of a senior citizen.

Case 4 – Three have been held for duping people through a fake domestic help placement firm.

What’s the common thread amongst all the cases mentioned above? Prima facie, it all has domestic helps involved. Also, they are all cases that have occurred across India in the last one month. However, the most significant piece of fact here is that – No background verification was done for any of the domestic helps employed.

Are we not concerned for the safety of our loved ones? Has dependence on these helpers reached such heights that we cannot even wait to get a verification done before we hire them and let them in our homes? Or are we ready to pay these helps the salary they ask for, but not ready to pay a paltry sum of money for verification?

Whatever it is that has kept you from getting an antecedent or a criminal verification done, should no longer hold you back.

I do not want to quote and write ghastly episodes that have taken place because of this negligence. Recently the country has witnessed sadly, a notable surge in crimes ranging from robberies, burglaries, home invasions and even personal atrocities such as murder and rape. Most of these crimes, as expected, have been committed by domestic helps. This is why police, other authorities and JantaKhoj emphasise the significance of conducting domestic help verifications. It is mandatory to get tenant/domestic servant/driver/guard/gardener verification done.

We would like to recommend some checks which as an employer you should get done:-

1. Education verification – Get the qualifications as quoted by the domestic help crosschecked. This is especially helpful if your domestic help will be required to perform extra duties such as helping your kids with homework/studies, etc. Also, if you are getting a home tutor for your child, this is mandatory.

2. Employment verification – There is nothing more full proof than a testament from a previous employer. This will give you an insight of the helps personal character, behaviour and work responsibilities carried out.

3. Criminal verification – Background checks lay bare any criminal activities that the help may have committed. You can get the concerned persons criminal and civil history checked. After all you do not want suspected/convicted murderers/rapists/thieves anywhere near you or your loved ones.

4. Address verification – You may have asked the domestic help to submit an address proof, which you’ve careful stowed away. Now this piece of paper hoarded away in your cupboard is no deterrent, if an address check hasn’t been done on it. An address check will help you ascertain whether the domestic help has/is residing at that address or not.

5. ID Check – Identity theft and faking is rife amongst this group. Get that Aadhaar/voter card you’ve kept in your file/cupboard checked. Also if you have a driver, you would want to be certain that he is who he says he is and he is most absolutely the owner of that driving license he submitted to you.

Should you wish to avail any of these services or wish to have a talk with us on background verification – We are just a call away!