A recent news piece by WBAL TV in Baltimore related the story about a background check company that suddenly went out of business – closing its doors with no notice and leaving job applicants in the lurch. The company Worldwide Management, partnered with the state of Maryland in doing fingerprints. The company collected the fees from persons who needed fingerprinting done, and paid a processing fee to the state. The company owes the state over $300,000.

And the people who were waiting on fingerprint results? Fortunately an update to the state of Maryland’s website, alerts customer that Worldwide Management no longer works with the state, and added “former customers with a receipt can be re-fingerprinted at no charge.” These consumers were the lucky ones, since there’s no guarantee that when a company closes and takes your money that you’ll get it back.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Key factors to consider when comparing background screening  service providers »

What you can do to protect yourself?

We recommend you ask the following questions and consider the suggestions below when you’re interviewing a prospective background screening provider:

How long has the company been in business?

In general, established companies are more stable. An interview with another background vendor said he had “seen a number of similar fingerprinting businesses come and go” – ones that open then close down quickly, some even just days later.

Is the company accredited?

In order to become accredited, a background screening company must pass a demanding onsite audit of its policies and procedures as they relate to the following six areas: consumer protection, legal compliance, client education, product standards, service standards, and general business practices. Only about two percent of background screening companies in the U.S. are accredited. Accreditation demonstrates a company’s commitment to excellence in backgrounds.

Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Most people are familiar with the BBB. Check the company's rating as well as any customer complaints.

The events reported were unfortunate for the people who relied on this business to do what it promised to do. Following the above suggestions may one day save some people – possibly you – from having the same thing happen.

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