Top 3 Volunteer Background Screening Questions – and Answers from Sterling Volunteers’ Webinar, Volunteer Background Screening: Ask Us Anything! (seriously, ANYTHING)

Posted Thursday, August 3rd, 2017 by Sterling Volunteers Staff

We recently hosted a fun and informative webinar, Volunteer Background Screening: Ask Us Anything! (seriously, ANYTHING), and had a great time answering questions from our audience. At the top of the webinar we discussed the most commonly asked questions we get asked by those in the volunteer management space. We offered 3 tips for creating and managing a successful screening program; ran through all the various background screening sources and databases that are out there ― and which ones volunteer managers should consider for their organizations; and shared tricks on how to run an efficient screening program on a limited budget.

Then, our panel of experts got to answering attendee questions.

Here are 3 of the most frequently asked questions we received, along with their answers:

  1. What’s the difference between SSN trace and SSN verification/validation? There are a group of products that surround Social Security numbers (SSN). These products have similar titles so they can be a bit confusing. What exactly is the difference between SSN trace and SSN verification/validation, and do they work together? The SSN verification/validation is a product that at one time could confirm a SSN as valid and gave an approximate date of when it was issued, but did not tie the SSN to a candidate. But a few years ago the SSN Randomization Act was passed (due to many instances of identity theft) and the Social Security Administration began to assign numbers at random. This rendered SSN verification/validation largely ineffective for use in background screening.SSN trace is a tool that allows a candidate’s SSN to be be entered into an address history search. This method does not report back things like the validity of the SSN itself or date of issue. The SSN trace is a great tool that should be used to complement volunteer screening but should not be used by itself due to obvious limitations.There are tools available that link your volunteer /candidate to their SSN. Called the Consent Based Social Validation (CBSV), this tool goes directly to the Social Security Administration to validate that the social security number provided does tie to the person who provided it. There are also other ways to confirm identity. Products like ID Confirm validate the information and photo on a drivers license. Of course, we always recommend checking the individual’s identity when they show up to volunteer if possible.
  2. Can I screen my teen volunteers? The short answer is yes, of course you can! But if you reword the question as “SHOULD I screen my teen volunteers?” that’s another story. Why? You can screen anyone as long as you have their full name, date of birth (and parental consent when it comes to those under 18) – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it makes the most sense for your organization, considering your budget and the chances of finding criminal history information on minors. To be more specific, the chance of screening volunteer candidates who are, say, 12 or 13 years old and finding any information about them is extremely rare. Your chances increase when a teen hits 16 years old as they could be tried in adult court. Keep in mind that if a teen volunteer candidate does have a criminal hit on their record it will be sealed up in juvenile court and not legally reportable (unless they are tried as an adult for an especially heinous crime). So if you’re interested in screening teens, take into consideration the role they will be filling and your budget dollars before doing so. There may be other ways to ensure they are a good fit such as structured interviews and references.
  3. What do you recommend when it comes to rescreening volunteers? How often should I do this? This really depends on two factors: your organization’s budget and the volunteer position. Volunteers in leadership roles and regular volunteers working with vulnerable populations should be rescreened annually. Sterling Volunteers recommends screening all your volunteers if your budget allows. You may be surprised the hits that come up on someone’s background check 2 to 6 months after the initial check – this happens in just under 1% of volunteers screened! If your budget is tight you can always run a lesser level of screening for rescreenings. Products can be mixed and matched so that you can keep your organization safe AND stay within budget!

Didn’t see the question you wanted answered above? Check out the whole webinar here for more important volunteer background screening questions answered! And don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and share your comments below.