Archive for February, 2012

How to establish the reliability of International Background Check data

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Today I’d like to share a recent discussion that has been taking place the last few weeks on our LinkedIn Forum, the International Background Screening Forum that I think our readers will find resourceful.

The discussion provides an interesting primer and an insight into the rather fragmented nature of the global background check market and the challenges faced by screening companies outside of their geographic location (country of domicile) that look to source U.S. or overseas based clients international background check research either through direct to source i.e. a government agency abroad or to third-parties whether they are global wholesale providers or even in-country providers.

In summary a rather thought provoking statement and question was made that not all countries are equal when it comes to the reliability and accuracy of records around the globe. It was also  expressed that clients (multinational employers) are paying a premium for international searches and that there is a growing concern from a US based background screening company’s point of view as to how one should go about evaluating the reliability and accuracy of such results on a country basis. From a practical point of view it is believed that there might be countries that may not be worth performing a records search because… “there are no records to search”, or “70% of the people in a country can pay officials to lose the record”, or “50% of the records become “nonexistent” for political or religious reasons,” etc.

These are all very valid questions, (1) what is the reliability / accuracy and (2) if based on available information, local records might not necessarily provide at least a certain level of accuracy should an organization even attempt such research? As a global advisory firm specializing in this area we receive these types of questions more often than you would think. We’ll discuss both of these points.

How to Establish Reliability / Accuracy in International Background Check results

In many respects even after 12 years of specializing in the global background check market many would agree that it is still very much considered “The Wild West” and at its emerging stage due to the fragmented nature of differing laws, availability and access to local records and data required to undertake a legitimate check, costs, and most importantly differing points of view on what is legally permissible versus folks that just want to turn a quick buck for less than ethical work product. In the end the latter has done more harm than good but it’s getting better through education and the effects of increased global trade (increased demand) but also increased enforcement action of those that flagrantly violate compliance and personal privacy.

Unfortunately there is no public available resource that details by country each of these aspects of background screening on a country basis, at least at this time. This type of information is generally closely held by companies that actually specialize in this area of the market and many may feel that it is considered part of the “secret sauce” that differentiates them from their competitors (particularly global specialists). Aletheia Consulting has in fact conducted such research on a number of geographies around the globe.

With that in mind we will discuss the guiding principles we apply when working with our CRA (background screening) clients no matter whether they may be a US based or overseas based provider (ie. a screening provider located in Bangladesh as an example) looking to expand their geographic footprint and design their international background check product portfolio.

We carefully examine each local data source (i.e. criminal records, credit, etc..) by country and by product type with the following 8 specific questions in mind:

  1. Existence of information in target country? (locate possible sources of the data)
  2. How is information maintained?
  3. Reliability and credibility of information? (whether held directly by gov agency but also how credible the third party that may be in conducting the search on the customers behalf)
  4. Legality of using consumer information for employment purposes? (can it even be used for employment purposes?, if so
  5. If based on answers related to No. 4 that it is legally permissible for employment – how can research be accomplished? Direct to source or through a third-party?)
  6. What is required in order to obtain the information?
  7. Timeliness of delivery?
  8. Affordable cost of information?

Questions 1-5 can then be applied to a Risk Matrix and conclusions drawn as to the quality and credibility.

This of course assumes one also factors in the cultural and environmental factors involving a country’s level of corruption (i.e. the practice of paying bribes in order to get out of being arrested or to pay off a claimant prior to court in order to avoid a trial which is actually a common practice in some countries).

A country’s level of corruption and actual fundamental issues around the quality of source data will always be potential factors in international background investigations that one should consider but should never be a deterrent or an excuse for not conducting an adequate level due diligence on a potential non-US or local employee, contractor, or trading partner. Remember many countries including the U.S. have enacted various anti-corruption/bribery and terrorism statutes (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) as well as various industry specific guidelines (US Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations) such as within the financial services, IT, healthcare, and many other industries that require a reasonable/responsible level of due diligence be applied when making a business decision.

What to expect from your local or global background check provider

When working through a 3rd party (in-country partner or even one of the “wholesale international providers”) aside from the usual production guidance i.e. what they require from you to undertake the search and what to expect in return I recommend you require them to demonstrate a sufficient working knowledge of the geographies they claim to be able to support. This needs to be supported by their willingness to educate you and or provide sufficient guidance for you to be able to communicate the local cultural and legal provisions governing access and use of the data to your clients or even candidates. You should then have this information cross referenced and verified independent and directly with the source agency and the relevant privacy commission (if applicable).

In the end there must be transparency with your overseas background check providers. If not than you or your organization may be placed in a risky situation of possibly violating an applicant’s personal privacy rights or even worse an organization failing to be able to demonstrate that they applied the necessary level of due diligence in their background screening process.

I am not a firm believer in “blind faith” or “blind trust” as someone mentioned in the discussion about relying on their provider without verifying the facts.  This is an unwise practice and creates significant risk for you and your client. Our clients come to us for expert advice and if we don’t know the answer to their question than we should know how to derive the right (accurate/truthful) answer or tell them we simply don’t know.

Some folk’s spoke of records not being available in certain geographies and that is absolutely accurate. In fact one of my most famous recommendations to clients is that “any firm that purports to offer and deliver criminal records for employment purposes from every country on the planet, don’t walk away, run away!” This simply isn’t legally permissible in a multitude of countries and is an outright criminal offense. As a provider of international background screening services however it is our job to be able to speak to both the local environment as well as our experience to be able to offer best practice advice for our clients in order to address and in some cases offer next best available options to consider.

In conclusion, just because criminal records in a country may be paperwork intensive, expensive, take an extremely long time to accomplish, or worst case scenario not very accurate due to the reasons discussed today as long as the organization has applied that reasonable level of due diligence..meaning that if it is legally permitted and available for employment the organization should have the check done by a responsible provider. The question then may become what source and as long as you’ve applied the guidelines we discussed above during the sourcing and selection process you should be okay. If as a provider you don’t have the in-house expertise of the local geographies than we believe you have one of two options (1) spend the time to research the various geographies on your own (although it will be a very long, painful, and expensive process), or (2) hire or partner with local and or global subject matter expert that has already done the leg work and who is able and willing to be your subject matter specialist.

International Background Check Market Outlook

All and all the international background check market even with its rather interesting challenges continues to grow and further develop in leaps and bounds nearly by the month. I am a firm believer that through continued education of our buyers, providers, applying best practice concepts, and striving to do the right thing as a business owner and as an industry will many of these challenges have less of an impact on the emerging international background check market.

For more information about Aletheia Consulting Group’s advisory services in international background screening please feel free to visit our website or email us at .


Five African Nationals Arrested for Fake Visas, Passports, and Counterfeit Currency

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Five foreign nationals from Africa in India, including a woman, were arrested in the national capital for allegedly providing fake passports and visas, police officials said Friday.

“Gabriel Olawale Ajisafe, Sunny Odigie Sunday, Enwere Okethukwa Kelvin Enwere from Nigeria, Karolin Cherotich from Kenya, Augustine John Johm Kwaku Kyare from Ghana were arrested Wednesday from the Golchha theatre in Daryaganj and Ganesh Nagar,” said an official from Delhi Police.

It is believed that there were at least two more similar units functioning out of west Delhi, a place that has a high concentration of foreigners.

Around 120 fake passports, 300 Visas, and $22,000 USD worth in counterfeit US currency were recovered from the accused. “The mastermind of the gang was identified as Gabriel Olawale Ajisafe, 52. Ajisafe has been residing in Delhi for the last 30 years,” police officials add.

Sources said the east Delhi gang had operated from rented apartments and kept shifting to avoid detection. The gang spread its “message” in a unique manner. “The gang would arrange for fake passports for a certain client and offered them nominal discounts (the charges were anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000) if they spread the word about their ‘good work’ to the rest of their contacts. The gang also kept in regular touch with Indian “touts“, who would inform the gang about potential clients from FRRO, the passport cell and even local courts,” claimed a source

The arrests come days after the cops busted one of the biggest such networks run by Pakistan-based Kana and recovered fake currencies with a face value of Rs 2.3 crore and believe that the gang can have links with the illegal immigration rackets operating from Nepal and Bangladesh. The gang has also been producing fake passports of African and European countries and rough estimates show that they had sent over 110 men out of the country using fake documents and currencies. Most of those who sought their help were African nationals, whose passports and other travel documents had been confiscated by the Indian authorities after they violated Indian laws.

“The printing was exquisite and they could even reproduce the impression of the water mark of the genuine US Dollar. The prepared fake passports of the African countries were provided to the citizens of African countries whose passports had either been impounded in criminal cases or they had entered India illegally through the neighboring countries. The accused used multimedia technology software like Autocad, Corel Draw and other software for preparing the counterfeit dollars and fake documents,” said additional DCP (crime) Sanjay Bhatia.

The suspects had been running their office from Ganesh Nagar in east Delhi for the last one year.

EU Data Protection Proposals: Outsourcing and Employee Data Issues

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

The following article by  Matthew Howse, Partner, and Celia Kendrick, Associate, at Morgan Lewis should serve as a great primer for US as well as other multinational organizations that deal with human resource data of EU citizens. The EU’s proposed new revisions to data privacy could have broad ramifications for the unwary.

Outsourcing arrangements often require the transfer of employees’ personal data from the customer to the supplier or vice versa.  For example, an outsourcing of payroll functions will involve the transfer of employee data.

Particular issues arise if the data is to be transferred outside of the EU.  In addition, notwithstanding that most data protection legislation within the EU derives from the EU Data Protection Directive, there are important differences between countries on how personal data can be processed.  The UK rules are currently contained in the Data Protection Act 1998.

In January 2012, the European Commission published its proposal for a new General Data Protection Regulation.  The extensive proposals would overhaul this area of law and significantly increase data protection across Europe.

The key proposals are:

Harmonization: A single set of rules will apply across Europe.

Scope extends beyond Europe: The new rules will apply to EU businesses and businesses based outside the EU that process European citizens’ personal data for the sale of goods or services or the monitoring of behavior.

Fines: Penalties for non-compliance will be significant, with businesses facing proposed fines of up to €1 million or up to 2% of their annual worldwide turnover (depending on whether the organization is an ‘enterprise’).

Explicit consent: The new definition of “consent” will include a requirement that individuals’ consent must be explicitly obtained; it cannot be assumed.

Notification requirements: Organizations will be required to notify their supervisory authority of a security breach without undue delay, meaning within 24 hours if that is feasible.  If not, the notification must be accompanied by a reasoned justification.

Right to be forgotten: Individuals will be able to ask to be forgotten and have their data deleted unless there is a legitimate ground for keeping it.

Data protection officers: Organizations with over 250 employees will be required to have a designated data protection officer who will have specific duties in relation to monitoring and advising the organization.

These changes are probably long overdue – the current law was drafted when recent technological advances could not have been contemplated.  However, preparing for the changes and ensuring compliance will place a large administrative and financial burden on businesses with a European presence, including businesses involved in outsourcing.

The next step is for the proposed Regulation to be considered by the European Parliament and Council.  It is expected there will be widespread debate on the proposals, and that the Regulation will be amended.  Once the Regulation is approved, it is likely to be a further two years before it comes into force.

If the current drafting of the Regulation is approved, there will be a significant change in data protection obligations for both customers and suppliers.  Under the current law, only data controllers – organizations that control the purposes and manner for which personal data is processed – are subject to the obligations and restrictions on personal data.  Most suppliers are data processors as they process personal data on behalf of the customer (the data controllers).  However, the proposal is to impose restrictions and obligations directly on data processors (i.e. suppliers) for the first time.

Currently, it is important for all parties to establish who the data controller is and for the data controller to impose contractual obligations on the other party to ensure compliance with data protection legislation.  It is also key to ensure that, if personal data will be moved outside of the EU, this is done in compliance with the strict restrictions on exporting data.  Arguably, by extending the scope of data protection legislation to cover data processors and organizations based outside the EU which process EU citizens’ data, these considerations will become less significant for EU-based data controllers (i.e. customers).  However, the effect on data processors and international organizations will be much more significant.  The more stringent rules will place a tougher administrative burden on suppliers, which could lead to an increase in the overall cost of outsourcing.

Organizations that are about to enter into new outsourcing arrangements should be aware that their data protection obligations may change during the course of the arrangements.  Contractual provisions should be drafted accordingly, for example to make data protection provisions subject to amendment to comply with legislative changes.

The key message for customers and suppliers is: watch this space.  It will be some time before the measures are implemented, but the scope and effect of data protection legislation is likely to change significantly.

As published by © 2012

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