A recent white paper entitled Putting the “Human” Back in HR: How to Balance High Tech and High Touch, published in the HR Dive newsletter, asks the question, Where’s the Human in the Future of HR?

The publication voices a concern in the industry that the rush to technologize might be pushing out the human aspect in HR practices where it needs preserving. For companies competing for workers in an economy of record-low unemployment, leveraging emerging technologies is essential. Yet it is important that HR Directors not only choose the right technology but also strike the right balance between “high tech and high touch”—that is, balancing technological capabilities with a talent strategy that’s “for humans and by humans.”

In a similar way, the background screening industry wrestles with its own version of “high tech vs. high touch.” Technology is essential to the business but in a growing, super-competitive market for pre-employment background screens, many companies are turning to technology-heavy, human-light approaches that effectively commoditize background checks. To cut corners on price and speed, some background screening providers may propose using algorithm-based searches, data aggregators, and “unlimited county searches” as a substitute for direct court searches conducted by professional research analysts.

Such practices can put you at risk of civil litigation and federal violations for not following the “maximum possible accuracy” clause within FCRA. It is the legal responsibility of the employer—and the consumer reporting agency, or CRA (the background screening firm)—to verify the information reported matches to the individual concerned (and not to mention, that each adverse record located in a criminal records search is reportable under federal and governing state law). There is only one way to do that: by human verification of the source record at the county court or state court system.

Numerous high-profile examples of civil litigation against background screening companies and their clients serve as proof. Keeping the “human” in background screening is a very sound policy…. Food for thought!