Live Chat Support Now Available on AAA Credit Screening Websites

All websites associated with AAA Credit Screening Services, LLC will now feature a live customer support chat feature.chat

Previously, current and potential clients of the Houston-based credit and background screening agency contacted customer service by e-mail, fax, phone, or through the use of a website-contact form. The new live chat feature will provide fast responses to clients who need immediate help, but do not wish to call the office for live customer service.

The live chat service will appear to customers during business hours from 8:15 AM – 5:45 PM CST Monday – Friday and 9:15 AM – 3:45 PM CST Saturday. Live customer support will be provided by trained AAA Credit Screening customer service representatives. These customer support experts can answer a variety of questions, help with web navigation, provide troubleshooting for InstaScreen login and password troubles, and offer free consultation on report prices and options.

The live chat support is accessible through web browsers on PC, Mac, and mobile. All a user has to do to locate the live chat feature is navigate to the bottom right corner of the webpage. From there, they can click on the green bar noting the “Online” status of the customer support. Mobile devices will have a small chat bubble in the bottom right corner of the website page on their internet browser which they can click to initiate chat support. This will prompt a chat box to open, and a live customer support agent will be immediately available to answer questions.

The live chat provides a quicker alternative to the e-mail or the website contact form system which requires the user to input their e-mail address into the system along with their message to receive a response by e-mail. The live chat support system allows for a user to be connected with the customer support representative in a matter of seconds, questions to be answered instantly, and support to be provided without the hassle of a lengthy phone call.

Features of this live chat service include a rating system, chat transcription, name, and file sharing.

The rating system allows for customer service managers to monitor the quality of customer support that is being provided. A user can rate their chat at any time by clicking the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” symbol to the right of their text input box.

Copies of the chat’s transcript are also readily available to all users. To send a copy of the chat transcript to their e-mail address, a user simply must click the mail icon at the bottom of the chat box. The user will then be prompted to type in their e-mail address, and a transcript of the chat will be sent to that e-mail address shortly thereafter.

Chat users can set their name on the chat to feature their name or company name. The chat support system will remember past users and conversations, so this feature is a great way for current or prospective clients to cut down on the time needed by a customer service agent to locate their screening account. Past chat logs will only appear to the customer service agent, so as to not clog the chat window for users. This feature will be very useful to users who often find themselves requiring customer support while on-the-go, as they can start and stop chat support as needed, with all pertinent information related to prior support being retained by the customer service staff.

The file sharing feature is possibly the most versatile and useful feature included in the live chat support. This feature can be accessed by clicking on the paperclip icon on the bottom left corner of the chat box. Users can upload files directly to customer support as a safe, quick way to submit documents for account set up or screening purposes, share a screen capture for online troubleshooting, or to submit additional or missing documents associated with a previously submitted screening request. The file sharing feature is two-way, meaning that customer support agents will have the ability to share documents to the user visiting the website. This will allow the representative to send necessary applications, forms, disclosures, price lists, order forms, or other requested documents through the chat. To download an item sent through the live chat support, users just have to click the file name, and a download will be initiated through their web browser. This will make client account set up and troubleshooting quicker and easier than ever, as files can be shared while live customer support is ongoing through the chat.

Overall, the live chat support feature will allow for higher levels of convenience, accessibility, and functionality for current and prospective clients of AAA Credit Screening Services, LLC seeking customer service.

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Employment Screening Adverse Action

As an employer, navigating employment laws can be a tricky endeavor. Compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act adds to the headache inducing, pain staking chances of making mistakes that opens your company up to litigation. The FCRA has specific guidelines that must be followed when you are considering not hiring an applicant called Adversepre employment checks Action that applies when you have utilized a background screening company. Adverse Action is defined by the FCRA as “A denial of employment or any other decision for employment purposes based in whole or in part on a consumer report that adversely affects any current or prospective employee.” -FCRA §603(k)(1)(B)(ii) and FCRA §615.  Adverse Action not being properly followed is the top reason for class action lawsuits for FCRA violations.

So how do you keep your company out of the cross hairs for this type of litigation? Follow these simple steps:
If you think you might not hire the candidate:

  • Send the candidate a letter (the pre-adverse notice) that explains that the background check results are under review and a decision is pending
  • Include a copy of the candidate’s background check results
  • Include a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act”
  • Keep a copy of the letter and attachments, and document the date sent. (send by certified mail if you’re sending the notices yourself)
  • Consider sending by certified mail if you’re sending the notices yourself
  • Wait no less than five (5) business days before taking any additional actions so the candidate has time to dispute inaccuracies.

If you decide to not hire:

  • Send a denial of employment adverse action letter to the applicant informing them of decision, and that the decision was based on, at least in part, of the background check results.
  • Include the name, address, and phone number for the CRA that performed the background check and a statement explaining the CRA wasn’t the decision maker and can’t explain why adverse action was taken.
  • Inform the job candidate of the right to request a free copy of the background check within 60 days and the right to dispute inaccurate information.
  • Keep a copy of the letter and attachments, and document the date sent (send by certified mail if sending them yourself)

You are able to view and print the pre-adverse and adverse action letters by logging into your Instascreen account. You will select the applicant you would like to send the adverse action letter to, then on the reports results page scroll down to the “Disclosures and Forms” section and use the drop down box to select the appropriate document. Your choices at that time are to view, print, or email to applicant.

How can you find previous addresses or counties without asking the applicant to write them down?

If you’re an employer or landlord with some applicant-screening savvy, you’ll know that county criminal reports are the most accurate and up-to-date records of criminal history that you can find. While county criminal reports may take a few business days to complete, the non-instant turnaround time is compensated for by the detail and precision of information found on the record.

prior addressThe one problem with county criminal records, though, is coverage. When you run a statewide criminal report, you are covering all areas that report to the state. The same goes for when you are running a nationwide criminal report; you get a report that covers most states and territories within the United States. There are, however, gaps in these reports. Not all county courthouses or police departments report to the state, and not all states report to the nationwide databases. How, then, do you get a fully comprehensive report, which covers all areas the applicant has lived at, while maintaining the accuracy and detail that you need in a report that will affect a hiring, rental, or credit decision?

Many employers and landlords will have their applicants write down the addresses they have been at for the past 7 years. Because criminal reports don’t go back further than 7 years anyway, it would make sense for anyone wishing to obtain a criminal report to only run county criminals in the counties that the applicant has resided in for the past 7 years. The problem with this? If the applicant knows that they have committed a crime in a certain county, they can always omit addresses from that county when they are writing down their account of their address history. Persons with criminal records will assume that you won’t know the difference… and most of the time, they’re right.

This comes to our question: How can I find previous addresses or counties without asking the applicant to write them down? Simple: an address history report. Unlike the “Address Comparison” section on a credit report, which only reflects the address history for the applicant the credit bureau has on file, and the applicant’s own record, which can often leave out certain addresses, AAA Credit Screening’s address history report pulls address information from hundreds of different places, including the U.S. Postal Service, utility bill records, creditors, voter registration records, and other comparable sources.

While the address history report is not classified as a consumer report, and therefore cannot be used to make a hiring or rental decision, it can be used as a tool to determine the counties that should be ran for an applicant’s criminal reports, which are a part of their consumer report and can be used to make an employment or rental decision. This leaves one gap, though, in your comprehensive criminal report: federal felonies. Federal criminal records are created by the federal court system, which exists outside of the traditional county courthouses. See our article on the difference between nationwide criminal reports and federal criminal reports for more information on this topic.

In summary:

If you want a comprehensive record of all possible criminal history for your U.S. resident applicant, you should be ordering 3 kinds of reports. The address history report, which will let AAA Credit Screening know what counties to search for criminal records in. County criminal reports, which will be run in all counties the applicant has lived in during the past 7 years. Finally, a federal criminal report, which will fill the final gap in your comprehensive report.

Key Differences between In-House and Outsourced Background Checks

If you or your company perform background checks on tenant or employment applicants, it is important to decide whether in-house or outsourced background checks are right for you.

First, what is the difference between in-house versus outsourced background screening?

In-house background screening is when a landlord, realtor, or employer individually searches sources for background screening. A common example of this would be a landlord calling a tenant applicant’s employer to verify the applicant’s position and wage/salary. Another instance of in-house background screening would be a hiring manager visiting a county courthouse’s databases to search for records under an employee applicant’s name.

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Outsourced background screening is when a landlord, realtor, or employer hires a third-party background screening company to take care of their background checks. Typically this third-party is either a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) such as AAA Credit Screening Services, or a “Reseller” that purchases its background reports from a CRA. Processes vary from company to company, but in the case of AAA Credit Screening Services, the landlord, realtor, or employer (“client”) sends in a request along with the individual’s application and/or authorization form(s), specifying the scope and type of background check that they would like, such as a Nationwide Criminal Search or a Worker’s Compensation Report. From there, AAA Credit Screening Services procures the report information and returns it to the client requestor.

The main arguments for and against in-house and outsourcing background checks are as follows:

In-house Background Screening Pros:

  • Background checks do not have to conform to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), meaning they can include searches for information going beyond seven (7) years of history
  • No service fee, other than those charged by the sources (e.g. courthouse record clerks, high school registrar’s offices)

In-house Background Screening Cons:

  • Scope is limited to what the landlord/realtor/employer can do on their own, without the use of CRAs or Resellers. Usually this means visiting county courthouses and police departments for criminal records or contacting the applicant’s references left on their resume or application. Some counties do not have online or phone access to court or police records.
  • Background screening is a time-consuming process, especially for those who are not in the background screening industry. A single applicant’s background check can take hours of work; for a human resources worker paid the industry average of $62,960/annually, in-house background screening can be a waste of company time and resources.

Outsourced Background Screening Pros:

  • Third-party background screening companies typically have a wide scope of searches. AAA Credit Screening Services, for example, is able to perform criminal background checks at the county, state, or nationwide level. Additionally, AAA Credit Screening can obtain criminal records from foreign countries, something that is simply impossible for most individual landlords, realtors, or employers performing in-house background screening. AAA Credit Screening also has access to certain searches that are not available to most individuals, such as Social Security Number Verifications or Business Credit Reports.
  • Time and resources used on background screening are limited to the amount of time spent ordering the report and the cost of the report as purchased from the third-party background screening company. A client can purchase a Statewide Criminal Report from AAA Credit Screening and have the report turnaround in one business hour, or spend weeks of time and hundreds of dollars on court access fees, trying to search the county courthouses within the state for criminal records.

Outsourced Background Screening Cons:

  • Individuals must careful with the company they chose to perform their background checks. CRAs and Resellers who do not hold a membership with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) may be unreliable, or not conforming to industry standards, leaving clients with low-quality, unfinished, or falsified reports.
  • Third-party background screening companies must conform to the guidelines set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This means that on most searches, CRAs and Resellers can only return 7 years’ worth of history. The FCRA also requires that the client’s permissible purpose (such as tenancy, employment, extension of credit, or insurance underwriting) for background screening be determined by the CRA or Reseller before any background screening can occur. Additionally, the FCRA mandates that all consumer reports (that is, credit or background screening reports on individuals) must be authorized by the consumer, that is, the individual whose background is being reported, in writing.

AAA Credit Screening Services is not only a member with the NAPBS, but also an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and a partner of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). AAA Credit Screening Services has a global reach for background checks, able to perform searches in many locations that other companies are not. AAA Credit Screening also stays up-to-date on tenant, credit, and employment background screening laws so that its clients can be protected from undesired litigation.

To start outsourcing your background checks today, complete AAA Credit Screening Service’s new customer sign up form or call our friendly customer service staff toll free at 1-888-282-0447 to speak to a live representative during business hours.

Updates That Will Affect Your User Account Login: Multi-Factor Authentication

On 11/15/2017 we will begin requiring all user accounts to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). This is a method of confirming a user’s claimed identity by using a combination of two different components. The first time you log in on after this day, you will receive a 6-digit code via a method of your choosing (text, authenticator app, or email) that you will then be required to enter before you can finish logging in to your account.

For your convenience, you do not have to verify every single time you log in. You will only be prompted to re-authenticate every once in a while, to continue maintaining your device security, or whenever you log in on a new device.

The next time you log in after 11/15/2017, before you are able to access our site, you will first be prompted to choose your authentication method:

You have three options for your second authentication method: text message, authenticator app, or email.

MFA options

Text Message

If you choose text message, you will be asked to enter your phone number into the available field for where you would like to receive texts. A code will then be texted to the phone number you provided, and you will type that code in before you can finish logging in to your account.

 

Authenticator App

If you have a smartphone, you may choose to use an authenticator app. If you choose to use an authenticator app, you will receive a QR code to scan and set up your app. A code will be displayed on the app after set up, and you will type that code in before you can finish logging in to your account.

 

Email

Email is less secure than text or app, so if you choose this option, you will be prompted to certify that you do not have a device that can use the other methods and acknowledge that it is less secure. A code will then be sent to the email you provided, and you will type that code in before you can finish logging in to your account.

Why do background screening companies use court documents instead of social media or Google to perform their screens?

Using entities like Facebook and Google can result in discrepancies between a person’s factual history and the information provided online.  Online records can also confuse those who are background screening as they may have common names or even have relatives in which they share a name with.  What does that mean for employers and landlords?  It means that the information found online has no promise of accuracy and can hinder and harm the selection psocial mediarocess.  In addition to these concerns, there have been cases where information presented online can be taken out of context such as the case with Sherry Sherrod, the former Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the US Department of Agriculture.  A blogger posted excerpts that were taken from an event of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People which were misconstrued as racist.  The result?  Sherry Sherrod was met with demands by government officials to resign.  In short, Mrs. Sherrod turned around and sued the blogger and a co-defendant.  She was offered a higher position by the USDA but declined.

What should employers look for on background checks?

Employers should have specific goals for considering individuals with a criminal history.   For instance, the United States Department of Labor reports that nearly 2 million American employees experience violence in the work place within each year.  Employers that operate their businesses in high stress atmospheres or serve alcohol may want to contemplate hiring individuals with prior record of violent crimes.

In other cases, employers who operate their business based on a delivery system may not want to employ those with DUI records and repeat drug abuse.  As well as those records, they may also want to review the number of traffic laws broken which may sometimes appear on a person’s reported history.

In addition, unless the potential employee is on the sex offender registry, reporting agencies are legally bound to only reveal records that have occurred within the last seven years.  Going outside of these bounds may result in legality problems and lawsuits.

Another type of background screening which is often sought after includes credit history.  The results of this screening may indicate that the potential employee has had or may have questionable history of mishandling debt.  These records could go hand in hand with persons who may have a recording of theft or fraudulent charges on their criminal record.  Employers that create an environment in which the employees complete monetary transactions may want to scrutinize between applicants who have documentation on their record which indicates financial trouble.

In addition to the previously mentioned reports, employers must also take into account a person’s employment history.  Verifying the terms on which someone has left a job and whether they are qualified based on experience to take on a newly offered role can greatly affect the workplace.

So what does all of this mean for employers?  It means that employers must greatly consider in which way they differentiate between those they wish to hire and those they wish to not.   Being thorough about having a set of goals and guidelines will assist the employer in deciding in which areas they want to review of a person’s background.

As always, AAA Credit Screening is here to help determine which types of reports will best suite your needs. Give us a call today! 888-282-0447