HireRight and the Background Check From Hell

5 Oct 2017 /

I got a job offer recently contingent on a background check to be conducted by a company called HireRight.

HireRight has an office right here in Irvine but for some reason, everyone I communicated with during the background check, either by phone or email, was in the Philippines.

Why is that a problem? Well, if I were tasked with doing background checks on people in Orange County, it would be to my advantage that I live here, I work here, I know people, I know the companies and I know how to get things done.

For the same reasons, if you wanted to do background checks on people in the Philippines, you’d be better off hiring someone in the Philippines to do them.

Cyclist in side street, Apas, Cebu City (The Philippines)

HireRight background checker, probably

The first communication I had from HireRight was this email:

The dates of employment we have currently verified for your employer Company A differ from the dates initially submitted to HireRight. The original dates provided were [dates from 5 years ago] and the dates we are able to verify are [dates within the last year, when I actually worked for Company B]. If the dates we have verified are not correct, we ask that you please supply us with clarifying documentation that indicates your correct employment dates (such as copies of W2’s, 1099’s or tax documents) to assist us in completing your background check.

They mixed up the dates for Company A and Company B so I sent an email in response:

The dates you’ve listed for Company A are the dates for a different employer — Company B. You’ve mixed up the dates for Company B and Company A. If you can fix this, let me know, otherwise I’ll call and talk to someone.

Automated response from HireRight:

Dear Valued Customer.

Thank you for contacting Customer Service and Support. Case Number 61889631 has been created in response to your email.

(I made up that case number but notice as we go along that it keeps changing. HireRight seems to assign a new case number to every communication they have with you.)

 

That was followed up by a personal email from Gauntlett Brown of HireRight’s Service Excellence department (I don’t mean to single out Gauntlett Brown but I like the name and gauntlet is a perfect description of the HireRight process):

Hello Paul Epps,

This email is response to the one we received from you for employment history verification related to the employer Company A. Thank you for responding to our request clarification of the dates of employment we received from the company. We understand that the dates the company provided were incorrect. I just wanted to inform you that the information we received was the information the company had submitted to the database we normally use complete these processes. In addition to this, because the information we received is incorrect you can have a dispute filled for the results. We appreciate your assistance and wish you the best.

If you have any further questions or need my assistance, please feel free to reply to this email and reference your case number of 61872735 [note the new case number].

Thank you and have a great day!

I wish they hadn’t just ignored what I said about mixing up the dates but I tried to work with what they gave me:

Yes, I would like to dispute the results.

I don’t think what you said is correct though. Company A didn’t provide you with the wrong dates. I would be very surprised if Company A mistakenly provided exactly the same dates that I worked for Company B. I worked for those companies five years apart. You’ve just got the dates mixed up for the two companies.

That drew another automated response from HireRight customer support:

Thank you, Paul.
We have received your submission and a member of our Consumer Support team will contact you shortly if additional information is needed to help complete the process. Your case number is 61892502
[another new case number].

 

The next I heard from HireRight was via a phone call:

“Hello, I’m trying to verify employment for Paul Epps. Do you know Paul Epps?”

“I am Paul Epps.”

“Do you know who I can call to verify employment for Company A?”

“If I were you, I’d try calling Company A instead of calling me.”

Unbelievably, I got this exact same “Do you know Paul Epps?” phone call again a couple days later.

 

Here’s the next email from HireRight:

Dear Paul,

We’re working to complete your background verification. We are requesting additional information to help expedite the completion of your background verification.

Information requested:

We have been in contact with Company C. Unfortunately, we couldn’t obtain the information needed to complete this verification. Please provide us with W-2s, 1099s, or pay stubs to represent your start and end dates of employment. We are dedicated to completing this screening in a timely manner, and we are depending on your assistance make this happen.

We have been in contact with Company B. Unfortunately, we couldn’t obtain the information needed to complete this verification. Please provide us with W-2s, 1099s, or pay stubs to represent your start and end dates of employment. We are dedicated to completing this screening in a timely manner, and we are depending on your assistance make this happen.

I can’t imagine what attempts they made, if any, to get dates of employment from these two companies. Remember that HireRight already had my dates of employment for Company B, they just assigned those dates to Company A by mistake.

Company B and Company C are local companies, one in Anaheim and one in Newport Beach. I worked with both of them within the last two years. Any reasonably bright 4th-grader could call them, say “Hi, I need to verify dates of employment” and get the information they need.

The only possible way to screw this up is to outsource it to someone in a remote part of the world, and even then the person would have to be exceptionally lazy and/or inept.

That being said, I sent them W-2s for Company B and Company C, and got this email in response:

We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with the requested documentation shown below and will utilize it in the processing of your background verification. While we try our best to minimize the inconvenience to you, please note that HireRight may reach out to you again should we need additional information and or documentation for this or an alternate component of your background verification.

Thank you again for your assistance.

My “assistance” . . . I’m doing all the verification and legwork myself and they thank me for my assistance.

 

I’ve actually condensed this process . . . there were other emails and phone calls but they were all the same . . . “We’re terribly sorry about the inconvenience, we understand the information is wrong, we’ll pass your input along to the researcher . . .” and nothing is done.

HireRight calls their people “researchers.” That is a scream . . . not only do they not research anything, they can’t figure out what’s right in front of them and they ignore anyone who tries to point it out.

When HireRight finally finished the background check, they sent me a link to it. It was a disaster. There were red flags all over it and all of them were wrong.

I sent an email to the HR person at the company extending me the job offer:

I’ve spent about a week emailing, calling and sending documentation to HireRight. They just sent me a link to their report, which doesn’t take any of that into account.

Among other things, they’ve listed my Company B work dates as Company A work dates and flagged it as a major discrepancy. I worked at those companies 5 years apart. I’ve talked with four different people in the last week to say that they mixed the dates up and they never fixed it. They were polite and apologetic but they never fixed it.

They’ve listed Company B and Company C as “unable to verify” even after I sent them copies of W-2 forms.

They actually called me twice to say “We’re verifying employment for Paul Epps. Do you know Paul Epps?” Anyway, I don’t know how this compares to their usual quality of work but I’ll give you a call in the morning.

– Paul

Her response:

Go ahead and send me what you have for your companies (the W-2’s). I will take a look at your background. Most likely I can add notes to clear up everything 🙂

Thank you!

So the saving grace was that this woman was familiar with the appalling quality of HireRight’s work and was able to take corrective action.

I can easily envision a job offer that someone really needs being revoked over a background check that comes back with “major discrepancy” and “unable to verify” all over it.

And shame on HireRight for doing this to people.


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