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Lack of background checks leaves citizens vulnerable

Apr 27, 2011 Matt Roesly

Lack of background checks leaves citizens vulnerable
A recent report by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes has found that 25 percent of caregivers identified in media reports as being convicted or accused of wrongdoing on the job had previous offenses on their records, according to the Sacramento Bee. The report blames lack of state oversight of in-home care agencies for the elderly and disabled, as previous convictions would likely have been identified by pre-employment screenings if any had been carried out.
 "Without criminal background checks, these consumers may unwittingly open their homes and finances to those who have shown a willingness to exploit or harm others," said the report, as quoted by the news source. The report suggested implementing a public awareness campaign in order to inform consumers of their options for obtaining background reports. Establishing standards for agencies that claim to carry out employee criminal checks but may not deliver was also recommended. According to BusinessWeek, legislation is presently pending in Texas that would require customers to be notified when a different kind of background checking system is in place - one related to online dating services. The bill would also require sites to remind customers that background checks, though a helpful tool, can still be circumvented. If passed, the legislation would require dating sites to clearly disclose whether criminal background checks were conducted on their members. Similar bills are being considered by Connecticut and New York lawmakers. "The last thing [online dating services] need for business is for somebody to get harmed by something through their site," said Donna Rice Hughes, CEO and president of Virginia-based nonprofit Enough is Enough, which works to improve online safety for children and families. "They should be running their database against the sex offender registries. That's a no-brainer." Online dating giant Match.com recently announced that it will begin cross-checking its users against such databases, according to the Los Angeles Times. The announcement came several days after an unidentified Los Angeles woman filed suit against the company following an alleged sexual assault that had occurred while she was on a date with a man she had met on the site. However, Match.com warned that the measure would not be completely effective in weeding out predators. "It is critical that this effort does not provide a false sense of security to our members," said a Match.com statement.