What to Know About LA's New Background Check Regulations

How Leveraging Online Screening Solutions Can Help

In February 2024, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County announced the decision to remove birth month and year from its criminal name search criteria. Birth month and year was a critical data point used to verify identity during the criminal background checking process. This change now presents unique challenges for employers and Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) who are now struggling to run background checks.

More and more jurisdictions are adjusting regulations on background screening processes in order to prioritize privacy. California often sets the precedent for regulatory updates, and states like Michigan are already considering similar legislation. This trend necessitates a shift in how employers across the nation approach the vetting process.

Background screeners and employers are now looking for alternative methods to verify identity and conduct background checks in lieu of LA’s new regulations. Many are turning to Fama’s Online Screening as the answer.

Here’s what employers need to know about LA’s new regulation, how to navigate these changes, and how alternative screening solutions like Fama can help.

What Employers Need to Know About Los Angeles' New Background Screening Regulations

Los Angeles County will no longer allow searching by birth month or year in court records

Effective February 23, LA County has removed birth month and year from criminal search databases both online and in courthouse kiosks. This makes it difficult to accurately match criminal records, especially among individuals with common names or limited identifying information.

This modification not only affects the efficiency of background checks but also raises concerns about the completeness of criminal history reports. The court's decision introduces a complex hurdle in the identification process, leading to delays in background screens in Los Angeles. We are hearing from our partners that they are only able to clear between 50 - 65% of backgrounds submitted in LA County due to this change.

Why this change matters

Birth day is used as a critical identifier that helps ensure the accuracy of background checks. In most instances, it’s one of the only identifiers that screeners can use to differentiate individuals with the common names or those with the same name. In just a few weeks, removing this identifier has already resulted in more false positives of people with the same names, mismatches among people who use nicknames, and even an underreporting of criminal records.

How this impacts CRAs and employers

The change is making it harder to conduct background checks as it’s harder to identify people and their records. In some cases, background checks are being delayed impacting time to hire. In other cases, it’s making search results less reliable and comprehensive. In worse cases, it means that nearly 1 in 2 background checks can’t be completed.

This is leaving background screeners and employers unhappy, reassessing risk tolerances, and looking for other screening options.

What Employers and CRAs can do to adapt

These process changes mean screeners will have to get creative to effectively screen in new ways. This entails revising the way they search for criminal records in Los Angeles County, and other jurisdictions that may pass similar regulations. That means leaves screeners and employers with three options:

#1. Figure out new ways to identify individuals

For people with unique names or other recognizable identifiers, this may not be a huge problem. However, birth month and year was a critical data point in more than 40% of background checks in LA. Some CRAs and employers may be able to make do by cross referencing information like addresses and social security numbers if available in any records to verify identity. However, this isn’t a good long-term option as it’s not available in most records.

#2. Reassess risk tolerances and the need for screening

Some workplaces are using this time to reassess risk tolerances and set other misconduct controls in place. This could mean increasing insurance policies, beefing up anti-theft protocols, and even leveraging workplace violence programs. In more extreme cases, some may even consider moving the location of roles to jurisdictions that don’t have these limitations.

#3. Find alternative ways to screen people

Many background screeners and employers are turning to alternative screening methods. Online screening solutions like Fama stand out as an essential tool for employers and offer a sophisticated approach to background screening that aligns with the latest compliance standards, ensuring employers can conduct thorough evaluations of potential hires while upholding the utmost respect for privacy.

How Fama Allows for Compliant and Accurate Screening in LA County

Fama specializes in screening publicly available online information and reporting misconduct issues found in a candidate's online behavior and activity. This method respects individual privacy and complies with legal standards, offering a valuable dimension to the background check process that goes beyond traditional methods.

Here’s why CRAs are choosing Fama:

1. Comprehensive Social Media and Online Screening:

Fama’s online and social media background checks screen over 10,000 online sources of public information and major social media platforms for critical misconduct issues like crime, harassment, and fraud. The out of the box solution screens for 8 types of misconduct and has options for employers to personalize searches with custom keywords. Online screening checks can be completed quickly – our turnaround time is one business day.

2. Online Screening Verification Processes

Fama’s online screening leverages an entirely separate identification process than criminal background checks and can still be run compliantly in LA County. This process, known as Profile Confirm, uses basic personal information already in an ATS or background screening portal to create its reports. Fama upholds the industry best practice of confirming three points of data found on a candidate in order to match to their social media profiles. By streamlining the screening process and eliminating the need for invasive requests, Fama empowers employers to mitigate risk while uphold compliance.

3. Compliant and Integrated (aka Easy to Use)

Fama's platform is designed to operate within the framework of new compliance regulations, including those emerging from Los Angeles. By focusing on publicly available information and requiring no invasive access to personal accounts, Fama ensures that employers stay on the right side of privacy laws.

Because of and in addition to this, Fama is integrated with over 95% of global background screeners to expand their screening capabilities to uncover online misconduct. This allows employers to use the same tools they know and love to  gain a deeper understanding of their candidates without compromise. This comprehensive view helps in making informed hiring decisions, ensuring that new hires are not only skilled but also align with the company's values and culture.

The Future of Background Screening

As regulations continue to evolve, the importance of flexible and comprehensive screening solutions becomes increasingly evident. Online screening platforms like Fama represent the future of background checks, offering a path forward for employers to navigate the complexities of compliance, privacy, and risk management.

In conclusion, the changing landscape of background checks, driven by new compliance regulations in Los Angeles, underscores the need for innovative solutions. Online screening platforms, particularly Fama, provide a powerful tool for employers to conduct essential background screenings while respecting privacy and adhering to the new legal framework. As we move forward, embracing these technologies will be key to maintaining high standards in hiring practices, ensuring both the integrity of the process and the privacy of candidates.

For any questions about how Fama can help, contact us here.