FBI Rapback is Daring New Approach to Due Diligence

A company invests a great deal of time and money into hiring the right candidate for high-level positions that will also meld seamlessly into the culture of the company and produce amazing results. Now, fast-forward a few years: what happens when the employee has been with the organizations for a while? Is it worthwhile to perform ongoing screening to prevent a bad hire situation? Without a doubt – yes, it is! A routine background screening check will give an employer a one-time “snapshot” of their employee’s past criminal history. The FBI has a background check program that has been running updated checks on a company that participates in the program. The FBI’s Rap Back Program has been providing organizations enrolled in their program real-time notifications and updates of employees’ current arrests and charges.

What is the FBI’s Rap Back Service?

The Rap Back, short for Record of Arrest and Prosecution Background, is a service that employers can use to continuously monitor their employee’s criminal and arrest records by receiving alerts from the FBI if there are any additions to an employee’s FBI records. The Rap Back uses the capabilities of the FBI’s Next Generation Identification program, the world’s largest electronic repository of biometric and criminal history information. With Rap Back, authorized agencies can receive on-going national status notifications of any criminal history reported to the FBI after the initial processing and retention of the criminal or civil transaction.

Launched in June 2014, the Rap Back program offers notification of future events that may affect the hiring of people serving in positions of trust. The program is triggered after the original FBI fingerprint background check submission of fingerprints for civil applicants, volunteers and licensees. Instead of disposing of the background check results after a designated time, the FBI will retain them indefinitely in the NGI database. An employer or organization will be notified of future specified events cross-checked against the original fingerprint file. Applicants must receive notification that their fingerprints will be kept on record and that there could be a report triggered by future events against those prints.

Most states have their own background screening databases which have accessed in-state Rap Back programs since 2007. Since the program launch, states and agencies partnering with the federal government for screening will enter their data into the FBI’s NGI database. Utah was the first state to join the federal Rap Back program and since other states and federal aviation employees have joined the program.

Pros and Cons of FBI Rap Back

There are many possible risks that can occur because of the Rap Back, including privacy, accuracy and security. The privacy risks involved with the Rap Back include the release of criminal history record information (CHRI) to unauthorized entities, the release of personally identifiable information and extended retention of the records that are of no longer interest to an agency. Another potential risk factor is that the FBI system is not subjected to labor laws regarding accuracy, fairness and accuracy. The FBI databases have been known to have accuracy issues with records not being updated after the original report. The National Employment Law Project reported in 2013 that as many as 50% of the FBI’s arrest records fail to include information on the final disposition, (If a person was convicted, acquitted or charges were dropped), of a case. Also, the events triggering the notification vary per the state and organization using the program.

Due Diligence Screening Choices

For employment screening, it is very important to get the entire “story” of the candidate. Consumer reporting agencies such as due diligence companies do more than just fingerprints; they use names, addresses and social security number as starting points for top-to-bottom screenings. CRA’s use more complete, up-to-date-services and multiple sources for effective name-based criminal background checks. Sterling Diligence (formerly Bishops®)’ proprietary background screening method simplifies the process to give employers peace of mind.