EppsNet Archive: Orange County

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.

Looking For a Vet in Orange County?

8 Apr 2017 /

We took Lightning to Animal Hospital of Irvine his whole life — 13 years. We boarded him there too when we went out of town. They took excellent care of him.

How do I know that? Because years ago we used to board him at PetSmart and it was always a struggle. He didn’t want us to leave him there.

I thought it was because he didn’t want us to leave him anywhere but when we started boarding him at Animal Hospital, his tail was wagging like crazy when we dropped him off. They gave him lots of attention and took him for lots of walks and even let him out of the kennel and let him walk around the office.

We had to let Lightning go last weekend. Wendy, one of the staff members, came into the procedure room where we were waiting and said how sorry she was. She was crying.

Lightning was her favorite. Wendy is older than the other staff members and what she liked most about him is that the effects of aging never affected his heart or his personality. I hugged her and told her that I know he loved her and was always happy to be there because she took the best care of him.

This week in the mail we got a picture frame and a sympathy card from the staff.

Card and picture frame

Animal Hospital is probably not the least expensive vet in town (is there such a thing as an inexpensive vet?) but they really do care about the animals and their owners . . .

Learn to Code

24 Jan 2017 /

I’m a programmer . . .

Job searches for me go like this: I’m old, I have to compete with people half my age, but I’ve worked in Orange County since forever so I know some people, and I can write good code in interviews, which the majority of programmers who show up for interviews can’t.

I was out of work on January 5. It’s now January 24. I have three job offers and picked the one I like best.

Moral of the story: Learn to code, kids . . .

Thus spoke The Programmer.

It Never Ends

10 Dec 2016 /

I just received an email alerting me that the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s annual fundraising campaign ends December 31.

Let me guess, the next annual fundraising campaign starts on January 1.

Christmastime in Irvine

20 Dec 2015 /

Christmastime in Irvine

Moving Back

12 Dec 2015 /
Moving box

Our boy was home recently for a visit . . . he lives in San Francisco now . . . we were driving to dinner one night and his mom, from the back seat, said to him, “You can move back if you want to.”

“I don’t think I would move back to Irvine,” the boy said matter-of-factly.

“I meant you can move the seat back. I have plenty of room back here.”

Walking in Irvine is Not a Good Way to Meet People

14 Nov 2015 /

Unlike walking in San Francisco, walking in Irvine is not a good way to meet people. This is what my walk to Starbucks looks like on weekend mornings . . .

Walking in Irvine

See You in Hell

11 Oct 2015 /


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

I’m hearing a lot of Orange County residents complaining about the heat this weekend. Take it from someone who knows about heat: 98 degrees is not heat. You’ll see what I’m talking about soon enough. Enjoy the 98-degree temperatures while you can.

On a related note, why does everyone say “Jesus Christ, it’s hot” and no one says “Satan, it’s hot”?

See you in Hell . . .

The Coffee Goes to 11

14 Sep 2015 /

We stopped in at the Nespresso coffee bar at Geary and Grant just before leaving San Francisco to drive back to Orange County. For the iced latte that I wanted, the menu offered a choice of three coffees ranked by “intensity”: 4, 9 or 11. The 4 seemed too low, and I saw no reason to go with the 9 and leave the extra two intensity points on the table, so I selected the 11.

I didn’t notice any off-the-charts intensity as I was drinking the coffee but it kicked in on the drive home, somewhere near Salinas. I could have driven straight through to South America, such was my level of alertness and energy.


Dogs in San Francisco

7 Sep 2015 /
Dachshund and Golden Gate Bridge

If you’re a dog or a recently released felon, you are welcome in San Francisco. Not only are there lots of people walking in SF, there are lots of people walking with dogs. French Bulldogs, Huskies and Pomeranians seems to be especially popular.

Until he got too old to really enjoy it, I took Lightning to the Irvine dog park six days a week (it’s closed on Wednesdays) for years. I’ve spent a lot of time around dogs, so I’m better than most people at identifying dog breeds.

We were walking in San Francisco last weekend when my wife pointed and asked “What kind of dog is that?” Before I could say “It’s a Labradoodle,” our boy said “Labradoodle.”

I must have been visibly stunned because he then asked me “Were you going to say ‘Goldendoodle’?”

“No . . . you’re pretty good at identifying dogs now.” This is a totally new talent. When he left Irvine, I’m not sure he could tell a dog from a squirrel . . .

Walking in San Francisco

6 Sep 2015 /

Our boy is working and living in San Francisco now, We went to visit him last weekend . . .

It’s hard to drive and park in SF so a lot of people walk to where they need to go. Our hotel was a few blocks from the boy’s apartment but for the most part, we left the car in the parking garage and walked everywhere.

On a couple of occasions, we met one of his co-workers walking past us in the other direction. (His office is nearby, 7-8 blocks from his apartment, but it’s a startup, not a huge company like Transamerica with lots of employees.) On another occasion, we met a couple of his college classmates from Cal sitting near us at a local eatery. This is not to mention the friends, classmates and co-workers that we planned to meet up with because they also live in the vicinity.

I’ve lived in Irvine and worked in town or nearby for 15 years and I never see anyone I know walking around the city, probably because I don’t walk around the city and neither does anyone else. Well, I take that back . . . on weekend mornings I usually walk about a mile to Starbucks for coffee. The average number of people I meet on those walks is approximately 0.0.

But even when we go to restaurants. movies, stores, public events, etc., I very rarely see anyone I know. Very rarely.

It’s funny that a big, international city like San Francisco feels more like a neighborhood than does a typical suburban community . . .

San Francisco from Nob Hill

Photo Credit: louisraphael

At the Kite Festival

23 Aug 2015 /

Kite festival kitefest2

It’s Later Than You (I) Think

24 Jul 2015 /

Driving through the parking lot at Irvine Marketplace, I slow down to let an old man walk across in front of me. Hurry it up you elderly bastard!

As I get a closer look, I recognize him as a former college classmate. Which means he’s the same age as me.

He is fatter and balder than I am though, so at least I’ve got that going for me.


18 Jul 2015 /

Rain cloud

Unexpected rain in July makes my decision not to wash my car since last year look eerily prescient.

The Bamboo Ceiling

7 Jun 2015 /

Michael Wang had a 4.67 GPA and a perfect ACT score. He placed first in the state of California at the AMC 12 – a nationwide mathematics competition. He performed with the San Francisco opera company, and sang in a choir that performed at Barack Obama’s first inauguration. He volunteered his free time to tutor underprivileged children.

He applied to seven Ivy League schools and was rejected by all seven.

I saw recently that a local kid from Fullerton High School here in Orange County was accepted at all eight Ivy League Schools. His name is Fernando Rojas.

Fernando Rojas

Here’s another young man, Harold Ekeh, who was also accepted at all eight Ivy League schools:

Harold Ekeh

Last year, Kwasi Enin was accepted at all eight Ivy League schools:

Kwasi Enin

A study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade examined applicants to top colleges from 1997, when the maximum SAT score was 1600 (today it’s 2400). Espenshade found that Asian-Americans needed a 1550 SAT to have an equal chance of getting into an elite college as white students with a 1410 or black students with an 1100. I suspect that disparity has, if anything, widened.

If you’re Asian and applying to Ivy League schools, don’t hesitate to check the box next to “Black” or “Hispanic.” Or Eskimo. Eskimos are kind of Asian-looking.

Teaching Computer Science: Ask More Questions

20 Apr 2015 /
Primary School in "open air"...

English: Primary School in “open air”, in Bucharest, around 1842. Wood engraving, 11x22cm

You need to ask more questions. I think there’s a general fear about asking questions. There’s a risk of looking foolish in front of the whole group when it turns out that everyone else already knows the answer.

It’s actually very unusual for someone to ask a question to which everyone else knows the answer. If you find it happens to you a lot, you probably want to get that checked out, but normally it’s very unusual.

Another scenario: Somebody, maybe a teacher, says something and you think “That doesn’t make sense. I wonder if it makes sense to everyone else. Rather than risk looking foolish in front of the whole group, I’ll wait and see if someone else asks a question.”

So you wait for someone to ask a question and no one asks a question. Why? Because they’re all waiting for someone to ask a question.

Many people, including teachers, are not good at organizing their thoughts and articulating them with precision and that’s why you can’t understand what they’re saying. Don’t assume that it’s a problem with you. You need to move people to a position of clarity by asking questions.

Also, people love the person who’s willing to ask questions because it relieves them of the need to ask questions.

Education, like everything else, you get out of it what you put into it. Don’t sit in a class with unanswered questions in your head and let everything wash over you like a tidal wave.

My own kid, even in a good school district, I don’t feel like he got a good education because of good teachers, I feel like he got a good education in spite of bad teachers. He got a good education because he put a lot into it and he got a lot out of it. And his classmates who got a good education did so because they put a lot into it and they got a lot out of it.

All of which is a long way of saying “ask more questions.”

Any questions?

Carjacking Diversity

20 Mar 2015 /

Female carjacking suspect

Carjacking is like STEM in that it’s a profession in which women are seriously underrepresented so I celebrate this woman as a champion of diversity and inclusiveness.

No Class Today

2 Mar 2015 /


— via KTLA

Merry Christmas from Irvine

10 Dec 2014 /

Christmas in Irvine

Teaching Computer Science: No School After Halloween

4 Nov 2014 /
Indonesian scholars

Indonesian students crossing a collapsed bridge to get to school

There was no school yesterday because the Newport-Mesa Unified School District at some time in the past noticed that a lot of kids didn’t show up the day after Halloween, so they decided not to have classes on the day after Halloween. Evidently this applies even if Halloween is on a Friday, followed by two weekend days plus an extra hour on the time change. Kids still need that extra day to get ready for academics again.

Some time ago, I saw a news story about kids in Indonesia who had to cross a river via a rope suspension bridge to get to school. Then the bridge partially collapsed so it looked like the photo on the right. And of course the kids are determined to get an education so they’re all basically climbing their way across the river and back every day.

If the bridge collapsed completely, they’d probably swim across.

Meanwhile, American kids need 3 days off to bounce back after Halloween. I showed the class the photo of the kids crossing the river. “This is why everyone hates us,” I told them.

I don’t understand this policy of “kids don’t want to come to school after Halloween so we’ll just take the day off.” I don’t think kids want to come to school any other day either. It’s inconvenient. You have to get up early, sit at a desk and listen to people talk all day. Let’s just cancel school entirely!

If I were in charge of education, not only would schools be open after Halloween but I’d make sure that we covered a ton of critically important material that day so that anyone who wasn’t there would be hopelessly behind and never catch up. I want to see who the competitors are. You don’t want to show up after Halloween? OK . . . have fun at community college.

Work is the same way . . . on the plus side, it gives your life the illusion of meaning but on the other hand, it really cuts into your day. Get used to it kids . . .

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