If you can't get a government issued photo id this
company will sell you one legally. They make badges
for employees of companies that say the employee has
not been convicted of a crime for 5 years.
Badge of approval
Ike Tippetts' Tempe plumbing business used to do its own criminal background checks on job applicants using Internet databases that are easy to access but give incomplete information.
When the company was hiring for a controller last year, Tippetts said, he decided the business needed to do a more thorough check.
A local trade association referred him to CrimShield Inc., a Mesa-based screening firm that works mostly with on-site labor providers, including plumbers, landscapers, contractors, pest companies and others.
For $55 a person, CrimShield's licensed private investigators search county, state and federal court records and other documents to find out whether both current and potential workers have criminal pasts. CrimShield operates similar to other criminal screening companies in the state in that their investigators are licensed with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, a requirement under state law, according to John MacIntire, president of the Arizona Association of Licensed Private Investigators in Tucson.
But the company has added a marketing twist to a commonly offered service by issuing identification badges to the employees they screen.
The badges include a picture of the employee, CrimShield's logo and the logo of the actual company for which they work. They also contain an ID number, which an employer can use to track their information on CrimShield's database.
CrimShield's business customers can also use the system to send their own customers an e-mail before a plumber, landscaper, electrician or other on-site service provider arriving at their door. The e-mail shows the worker's picture and states that they have undergone a background check.
David Pickron, CrimShield's founder and president, says the badges give businesses a new way to market themselves by showing they are doing their due diligence on the people they hire. It also gives consumers peace of mind that the people they bring into their homes and businesses have been screened.
For CrimShield to issue an employee a badge, a person must not have had any violent misdemeanors in the last five years, felony convictions in the last 10 years, no drug-related misdemeanor in the last five years and no sex crime convictions ever, among other criteria.
"We want homeowners to know that this guy hasn't been known in the past to have behavior that would affect him being in your house," Pickron said.
He and other employment screening experts agree that a criminal conviction would not necessarily preclude someone from obtaining a job. A company's policy to hire or not hire an applicant with a criminal history depends on what the infraction was, the type of job they are applying for and other factors.
Pickron stresses that like other screening firms, his company does not making employment decisions for its clients.
"We're not saying hire or don't hire," he said. "We're saying based on our criteria, we will not issue a card."
Pickron, who has operated similar businesses during the past two decades, founded CrimShield in 2006. The company began competing for business last October, he said.
The serial entrepreneur said he was inspired to start the business after an experience he had several years ago with a landscaper working at his home. When he asked the landscaper about pricing increases, the worker became so angry that Pickron said he feared for his family's safety. Later Pickron said he discovered that the landscaper had a record of felony drug charges.
Pickron and his team have provided tenant screening for apartment complexes since the early 1990s through AAA Landlord Services Inc., another company he owns.
By expanding into employment screening, Pickron is entering a crowded field.
The number of businesses selling such services has jumped in recent years, said Tracy Seabrook, executive director of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. The Morrisville, N.C.-based organization has 677 members, 427 of which are considered consumer-reporting agencies, which means they are allowed to perform employment background checks.
Employment screening experts say the type of background checks an employer can perform vary drastically.
Some companies offer employers instant results, selling services that cost as little as $10.
Pickron and others say those types of services, which are all over the Internet, typically do no more than run a person's name through online databases that don't have complete information.
Rich Robertson, owner of R3 Investigations in Mesa, said the background checks his company performs can cost $800 to $1,000. They include criminal and civil records searches, employment and education verification and personal interviews with references.
The businesses who come to him are often hiring for high-risk positions in which a job candidate would have control over a company's finances, Robertson said.
Pickron said he has chosen to target service-oriented businesses like roofing companies, landscapers and pest eliminators that may not using an outside screening company because they don't think they can afford the service.
Since October, CrimShield has built a client base of about 85 companies and has screened close to 2,000 people, Pickron said.
"We're really happy with the response," he said. "We don't want to grow too fast."
David Selden, an adjunct professor of employment law at the Phoenix School of Law, said businesses are not required to hire outside companies to conduct screening, but those who do not could open themselves up to increased liability if an employee commits a crime. "Juries have tended to be quite sympathetic to the innocent victim of a crime when the person who was perpetrating the crime was someone who was placed there by the business," he said.
CrimShield's customers say they think the service adds credibility to their business.
When Tippetts, president of RainForest PlumbingWorks in Tempe, first hired CrimShield, he said he was nervous about what the company might find on his current employees.
"I almost wanted to keep my head buried in the sand in a sense," he said.
He ended up firing two employees based on the information CrimShield presented. He said the service has also helped RainForest avoid other potential litigious situations, including hiring a job candidate who had two DUIs in one month.
John Beebe, owner of Atomic Pest Control in Mesa, said his company also did its own background checks on applicants before hiring CrimShield last year.
"It got to be pretty labor-some," he said.
They decided to hire CrimShield after their residential and commercial customers began asking what type of checks they did on their service technicians, Beebe said.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-444-8280. Read his entrepreneurs blog at innovation.azcentral.com.