Negligent hiring lawsuits are on the rise. If an employee's actions hurt someone, the employer may be liable. The threat of liability gives employers reason to be cautious in checking an applicant's past.
Child abuse and child abductions in the news in recent years have resulted in new laws in almost every state that require criminal background checks for anyone who works with children.
Terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, have resulted in heightened security and identity-verification strategies by employers.
Corporate executives, officers, and directors now face a degree of scrutiny in both professional and private life unknown before the Enron debacle and other corporate scandals of 2002.
False or inflated information supplied by job applicants is frequently in the news. Some estimates are that 30% to 40% of all job applications and resumes include some false or inflated facts.
Federal and state laws require that background checks be conducted for certain jobs. For example, most states require criminal background checks for anyone who works with children, the elderly, or disabled. The federal National Child Protection Act authorizes state officials to access the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database for some positions.
The "information age" itself may be a reason for the increase in employment screening -- the availability of computer databases containing millions of records of personal data. As the cost of searching these sources drops, employers are finding it more feasible to conduct background checks.