Avoid Third-Party Background Check Companies

Why You Should Avoid Third-Party Background Check Companies for Dual Citizenship Applications.

An Interview with Harry Otto, Lead Expediter at White Plains Apostille and Mobile Notary.

As one of the lead expediters at White Plains Apostille and Mobile Notary, Harry Otto has processed thousands of dual citizenship applications for well over 50 countries. One of the most frequent questions he receives from applicants is about the type of background check that should be submitted to embassies and consulates. In this article, Harry addresses these concerns and explains why White Plains Apostille and Mobile Notary strongly advises against using third-party background check companies, especially for sensitive applications such as dual citizenship.

The Risks of Using Third-Party Background Check Companies
“Third-party background check companies operate outside of the rigorous standards and oversight applied to federal agencies, leading to a high rate of inaccuracies, data breaches, and FCRA violations,” says Harry. “These issues can jeopardize your dual citizenship application and put your personal information at risk.”

  1. Inaccuracies and Their Impact:
    A 2012 study by the National Consumer Law Center found that 65% of consumers who disputed an error in their background check report still had an inaccuracy after the dispute process (National Consumer Law Center). Harry points out that companies like Checkr, GoodHire, and Accurate Background have faced numerous complaints regarding inaccuracies in their reports, leading to job disqualifications and other serious consequences for individuals.
  • Checkr: Users have reported issues with the length of time Checkr takes to verify information, sometimes causing significant delays in employment opportunities. Complaints also highlight problems with incorrect information being reported, leading to job disqualifications based on outdated or erroneous criminal records (Better Business Bureau) (Checkr).
  • GoodHire: Users have reported cases where major criminal records were missed, which later caused serious employment problems. Additionally, GoodHire has been criticized for not adequately verifying information and making it difficult to get timely corrections to inaccuracies (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse) (Better Business Bureau) (NerdWallet: Finance smarter).
  • Accurate Background: Accurate Background has been reported for data security issues and slow response times to disputes, making it challenging for users to correct incorrect information. This can lead to significant delays in employment or other critical applications.
  1. FCRA Violations and Lawsuits:
    Many third-party background check providers have been involved in lawsuits and faced hefty fines for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
  • HireRight: In 2012, HireRight paid a $2.6 million fine for failing to ensure the accuracy of reports and not providing proper disclosures to consumers (Federal Trade Commission). The company has been involved in multiple lawsuits due to providing incorrect information and failing to offer proper dispute mechanisms for affected individuals (Enzuzo).
  • First Advantage: In 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed against First Advantage for allegedly not following reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information in their reports (ClassAction.org). The company has faced legal challenges for not ensuring the accuracy and timeliness of the information provided in their reports (SecurityWeek).
  • Sterling: Sterling has experienced data breaches that compromised sensitive personal information. The company has struggled with inaccuracies in reports and a slow dispute resolution process, impacting users’ employment opportunities.
  1. Data Breaches and Security Concerns:
    Private background check companies are more vulnerable to hacks and data breaches compared to government agencies with stricter security protocols.
  • Instant Checkmate: Instant Checkmate disclosed a breach affecting over 11.9 million accounts, exposing names, email addresses, and encrypted passwords (SecurityWeek).
  • Checkr: In 2019, Checkr suffered a data breach that exposed tens of thousands of sensitive documents (TechCrunch).
  • Intelius: Intelius has reported significant data breaches, compromising sensitive personal information of users.
  1. Regulatory Interventions:
    Government regulators have had to intervene due to the numerous issues with third-party background check providers.
  • In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged HireRight Solutions with violating the FCRA by failing to use reasonable procedures to ensure the accuracy of information it provided and failing to give consumers copies of their reports and a summary of their rights under the FCRA (Federal Trade Commission).
  • In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against two of the largest background screening providers, General Information Services and its affiliate, e-Background-checks.com, for failing to ensure the accuracy of reported information and denying affected consumers access to their reports (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).
  • In 2018, the FTC reached a settlement with RealPage, Inc., a Texas-based background screening company, over allegations that the company failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of tenant screening information (Federal Trade Commission).

Why Third-Party Background Checks Are Not Accepted for Dual Citizenship:

Harry emphasizes that no country will accept third-party background checks for dual citizenship purposes due to the strict requirements set forth by the 1961 Hague Convention and Apostille process. “These countries only accept federal FBI background checks with an Apostille issued through Washington, DC,” he explains. “The stringent requirements ensure that the background checks are accurate, secure, and adhere to international standards.”

White Plains Apostille and Mobile Notary’s Company Policy
“Our company does not permit any non-governmental agencies from obtaining private information from any of our Apostille expediters or notaries,” says Harry. “Many of our notaries already hold bonding certificates and maintain additional licenses such as real estate, insurance, and sometimes even governmental financial securities licenses. This ensures that all background checks are handled with the highest level of security and professionalism.”

White Plains Apostille and Mobile Notary’s Recommendation
Harry strongly advises against using third-party background check companies for dual citizenship applications or other highly sensitive clearances. Instead, he recommends utilizing the FBI background check system. This government-provided service offers:

  • Strict Regulatory Oversight: FBI background checks are conducted under rigorous standards and oversight to ensure accuracy and compliance with international requirements.
  • Robust Data Protection: Government agencies are held to higher data protection standards compared to private companies, reducing the risk of breaches and unauthorized access.
  • Global Acceptance: FBI background checks are the only reliable and internationally accepted option for dual citizenship applications under the 1961 Hague Convention and Apostille process.

“Using third-party background checks is not only a waste of time and money but can also jeopardize your entire dual citizenship application,” warns Harry. “Protect your personal information and ensure the success of your application by exclusively using government-provided background check services.”

White Plains Apostille and Mobile Notary encourages you to further research the cases and issues mentioned in this article to make an informed decision. If you have any questions or concerns, Harry and his team are always available to provide guidance.

For more information just see are searchable articles on FBI Background Check resources near our White Plains or New York City offices.

And One Final Thought…

It’s worth noting that even seemingly innocuous organizations like the National Notary Association (NNA) have found themselves embroiled in legal issues. In 2020, the NNA was named as a defendant in a class action lawsuit alleging that its remote online notarization (RON) platform, NotaryGO, overcharged customers for notary services (ClassAction.org). The lawsuit claimed that the NNA and its partners engaged in unfair business practices and violated consumer protection laws.

This case highlights the potential risks associated with private entities involved in regulation. As for-profit organizations, their relationship with applicants can be clouded by financial incentives, which may not always align with the best interests of the individual. This further underscores the importance of relying on government-provided services, such as FBI background checks, for sensitive matters like dual citizenship applications. These services are not driven by profit motives and are subject to strict oversight and regulations designed to protect the public interest.

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