What does a Salary History Ban have to do with Your Background Investigations?

As a new year and decade loom, two states are implementing salary history bans – New York and New Jersey.  As efforts to achieve pay equity are undertaken states are passing salary history ban legislation.

Pay Equity

As human resource professionals adjust their procedures to comply they should look beyond their job application and interview questions and into what information they are capturing during the background investigation process and being relayed on the reports of their background investigations.

Let’s take a look at capturing beyond the job application.  Applicants are asked to sign background investigations consent forms as part of the hiring process.  Sometimes this is in conjunction with gathering additional information to enhance the background and applicants may be asked about employment history, and part of the ask may be salary.  This type of ask is now illegal.  Beyond a hard copy or electronic consent form, there are applicant tracking systems that gather all sorts of information and relay some to a background screening company.   It is imperative that these applicant tracking systems be reviewed to make sure they are in compliance and adjusted accordingly.

The background investigations reports are another place for a quick review, especially if employment verifications are part of the background.  If the employer using the report is in a salary history ban jurisdiction they want to be prudent and make sure salary history information is not being relayed.

Don’t assume salary history bans are being monitored by your background investigations company unless you use Commercial Investigations LLC.

The Fallacy of NYS OCA Misdemeanor Redemption Policy

The fallacy is that NYS OCA (New York State Office of Court Administration) will not be giving results regarding a misdemeanor from more than ten years ago if it was the only criminal conviction that person had in the last ten years.


Reality is that the NYS OCA may not be giving you all the criminal record information you should get because the same person can have multiple convictions under different variations of their name, and thus, NYS OCA applies the misdemeanor redemption policy to each name and date of birth variation.

In reality, they apply the misdemeanor redemption policy to the name and date of birth, not the person.   To run a search with the NYS OCA you must give them the exact first name, exact last name, and exact date of birth.   Each variation requires a new search and another $95.00.

Also, the reality is that the misdemeanor redemption policy is not guided by the law but by NYS OCA internal policy.

Why is this important now?  Because more and more we are seeing name variations leading to missed records or records wrongly suppressed under the misdemeanor redemption policy.

So, let’s look at what the NYS OCA says its policy is:  “As of April 1, 2014, the NYS Office of Court Administration’s Criminal History Record Report (CHRS) will no longer report a criminal history for any individual whose only conviction was a single misdemeanor more than ten (10) years prior to the date of request.”

It is important to note that this is the policy of the NYS OCA, not the individual courts.  So, you can get the information by circumventing the NYS OCA and going directly to the courts.  Which is what CI does for its clients with the help of our Cursory Indicator New York inquiry.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is a list of 20 convictions that are reportable by the NYS OCA regardless of the misdemeanor redemption policy.

It is the antiquated NYS OCA interface and searching parameters that lead to the underlying problem here.  Most companies do not realize that the personal identifying information searched on needs to be entered exactly as the OCA record to result in a hit, including a suffix a person uses.  There is no fuzzy logic in the NYS OCA search engine.  So, Due Diligence and his DOB of 01/01/1970 needs to be entered exactly like that to get his records.  But you will only get the records that match that exactly.  So, if the court clerk recorded the DOB as 01/10/1970 you would not get that record.  Or, say for Duey Diligence, legal name of Due Diligence JR, if you do not enter the JR in the search information you will not get his records with JR attached.  Instead of entering no suffix and getting both with and without a suffix you only get those records with the suffix and should enter your search parameters with the suffix as your default searching scheme, per OCA recommendations.

Per the OCA, “If you run the name with a suffix you would get most of the cases that are available but there are times depending on the court of jurisdiction where including the suffix does not populate all of the arrests.”

 So, that leads me to conclude you need to run both variations, with and without the suffix, to truely get thorough results.  However, in the same NYS OCA response, they indicated, “It’s always better the submit the request with a suffix if you believe the defendant has one.”  We were unable to get further clarification from NYS OCA before publishing this article.  

So, what does this all mean?  Caveat emptor.  Your, $95.00 per name and DOB combination search at the NYS OCA is not necessarily a thorough search.  It is not the gold standard and is only one option available for those searching for criminal history on a subject in New York.


Please note that our Cursory Indicator New York inquiry and our clients that use that data set for New York Statewide Criminal Record inquiries are not affected by this.  Also, Cursory Indicator New York uses fuzzy logic and has no misdemeanor redemption policy applied to it.


New Jeans

You grew up wearing Levi jeans. You love Levi jeans. The last time you needed new jeans you went and tried on a number of different Levi brand models. And you purchased one. The other day you received your trunk club trunk. There was a pair jeans in there from a manufacture you were not aware of. They fit like a glove. Way better than the Levi’s you just bought. So you bought them.

The guy in the airplane row next to me.

When it comes to background investigations you may not have heard of Commercial Investigations LLC, you may still be hanging out with the Levis of the industry. However, there’s a new kid on the block. Actually not so new, Commercial Investigations LLC is 15 years old.

Isn’t it time you considered a new brand? One that fits you like a glove. One that is customizable and right for you. When it comes to your background investigations Commercial Investigations LLC is that company for you.

Isn’t it time for a better fit? Get the right fit today by calling us at 800-284-0906 or email us at info@commercialinvestigationsllc.com.

New FCRA Notice of Rights for Consumers

Today, September 21, 2018, is the effective date for using the new FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) Notice of Rights for Consumers.  The new notice now has information about obtaining credit freezes from the three large credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.  What does this mean?

For Employers – every time you give an applicant or employee the notice of rights obligated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act that notice now has to have in it the credit freeze provisions as provided and governed by the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).

For Consumers – job applicants affected by the FCRA – you are now made more aware of your right to place a credit freeze on your credit report.  Which means employers and credit granting entities cannot access your credit report unless you give then a specific code.  Be aware, this has been known to delay employers from getting your credit report for employment purposes.  Sometimes the delay has been as much as two weeks.  You need to timely obtain the code required and relay that to the background check company in a timely fashion.  This process can be confusing for consumers.

For CRAs – that’s Consumer Reporting Agencies (NOT Crazy Rich Asians) – aka, background screening companies – every time we (Commercial Investigations LLC is a consumer reporting agency) provide our client’s applicants and employees with the FCRA Notice of Rights it now has to have the credit freeze language in it.  We do not put credit freezes on individuals credit reports.  Only the three large credit reporting bureaus do.  They are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.  This is because we do not gather credit report element and create credit reports.  We simply obtain the credit report from TransUnion.

More about the notice – the notice needs to be similar to that as provided by the CFPB.  It does not have to be exact.  At Commercial Investigations LLC, we chose to make it another page as an add-on to the already existing form.  We also choose to include more helpful information for consumers than the minimum required.

For more information and a detailed understanding simply give us a call at 800-284-0906 and ask for our compliance department.


Redemption – Is it possible . . .

“Is it possible to determine empirically when it is no longer necessary for an employer to be concerned about a criminal offense in a prospective employee’s past?”

Click to access Redemption_Blumstein_Nakamura_2009Criminology.pdf

Yes, I read Criminology from 2009.  Actually, a mentor of mine and I were talking about recidivism, and he mentioned this article.

I think the business world may finally be ready for what academia was into almost ten years ago.  However, it would be neat to see some updated statistics.  I did a quick Google search and did not find any.  With the labor pool getting tight employers are looking at candidates with a criminal past differently.  But they still need to weigh the risks to their businesses.

As an employer, would you be comfortable with using such statistics?  Would you be more likely to if there was protection under the law if you did and something went bad after you hired the person?

In one sense, the New York State Office of Court Administration took it upon themselves to not pass along misdemeanor records older than ten years if the person was not convict of a subsequent offense.  Do employers want to not see that information?  Are employers not able to make wise decisions themselves when paying $65 plus per name searched?  Why should they not get all the records?

I find myself in a bit of a quandary today.



Click to access Redemption_Blumstein_Nakamura_2009Criminology.pdf

Happy 14th Birthday Commercial Investigations LLC!

Thank you to our loyal clients and supporters for making this happen for us. I am so excited for our fourteenth year in business. Fourteen is my favorite number and has been ever since I realized you’re supposed to have a favorite number. This takes me back to the beginning and an article I wrote for our tenth birthday – The CI Fairytale

Click to access 2014-Vol_11_Issue_2_March_2014-Final.pdf

CIware 2.0 Highlighted Services

Commercial Investigations offers Drug Testing services that are now fully integrated and have tracking details right in CIware 2.0!  This means you don’t need to log into another application to schedule a drug test and you can easily determine if a subject went for a scheduled drug test.

Our Electronic I-9 and E-Verify services are now also fully integrated and do not require separate logins.  Clients are also using the CBSV (Consent Based Social Security Number Verification) service.   Our Vigilant services (continuous monitoring) are also easily ordered and tracked in CIware 2.0.

CIware 2.0 is everything we hoped it would be for our clients!  If you are one of our few clients who have yet to convert, please contact us now to start enjoying these improvements and avoid getting caught in the sunsetting of our old software.

Email or call us at info@commercialinvestigationsllc.com or 800-284-0906 with a date and time that works for you to get a customized webinar overview of CIware 2.0 and a conversion scheduled date before the sun sets.

CIware 2.0 Reporting and Communication

Account administrators have virtually unlimited reporting options in CIware 2.0! Our staff at Commercial Investigations see that some of the most popular reports are the Invoice Report, Turnaround Time Reports and Department Allocation Reports.

CIware 2.0 allows for improved interactions with CI staff regarding your background investigations. Whether it be a group of backgrounds or an individual background investigation, users can communicate directly within CIware 2.0.
As always, you can use email if it is your preferred communication tool, but this option can help you avoid switching to an email application to ask a question or follow up on something. We are confident you will love it as much as we do! We’re always be happy to hear from clients via phone as well.

Email or call us at info@commercialinvestigationsllc.com or 800-284-0906 with a date and time that works for you to get a customized webinar overview of CIware 2.0 and a conversion scheduled date before the sun sets.

More on CIware 2.0

Commercial Investigations has been busy converting clients over to our enhanced software, CIware 2.0. Our new software platform works on all devices, from cell phones and tablets, to MACs and PCs. CIware 2.0 users also enjoy the improved quick and easy online password reset feature, which eliminates the need to contact a CI staff member to have your password reset!

There are many customizable email notification options within CIware 2.0, e.g. immediate notification when derogatory information is identified and verified. This draws your attention to adverse information sooner rather than later, so you don’t waste valuable time during the recruiting process. Users can also be notified by email when a report is complete, or when each portion of the report is complete. The options are endless!

Email or call us at info@commercialinvestigationsllc.com or 800-284-0906 with a date and time that works for you to get a customized webinar overview of CIware 2.0 and a conversion scheduled date before the sun sets.