The subject of background checks, in general, is an extensive topic – including issues like what is it, who does it, when they do it, and not to mention, why do they do it?

Most people have surface knowledge when it comes to background screening, and in most cases, this is from the context of pre-employment screening and risk mitigation.

Although there is a significant interest in the investigations, legal, rental, etc markets, the more uniform adoption has been from the recruitment and compliance sectors.

This article will explore the various background checks and verifications available in South Africa, how the background screening industry operates, and the nature of the background check market.

” A background check is a process a person or company uses to verify that a person is who they claim to be. Background checks provide an opportunity for someone to check a person’s criminal record, education, employment history, and other past activities in order to confirm their validity. Whether you’re applying for a job, looking for a new apartment, or purchasing a firearm, you may have to undergo a background check. ” GoodHire

Defining background checks, screening, or investigations

A background check, screening, or investigation is the process of reviewing an individual or organization to uncover any potential threats or risks that may not be visible without further exploration.

The background screening process compiles criminal, financial and commercial records to give you a better understanding of the person or organization you’re dealing with so are able to make a well-informed decision based on factual and unbiased results.

Verification: Establishing accuracy

On the other hand, the purpose of a background check is also to verify information/credentials given so that a conclusion whether or not an individual is sincere is established.

Who can conduct background checks?

A very important aspect to know is that a background check is not a task that can only be conducted by one institution or organization.

Many people are under the impression that certain organizations or a group of people have the capability legally and infrastructure-wise to offer background screening or pre-employment checks to the public.

The various information provided by the checks is not limited to certain people; anyone can legally perform a background check and have access to information that will help them validate and verify certain information and documentation.

Service Providers- Organisations that offer background screening

” Besides just credit reports, court and police records, driving records, financial and real estate holding can also form part of a background search. Using third party agencies for running these checks helps avoid violating any laws. “

Tela Lewis General Contractor Project Coordinator

There are a variety of background check service providers that can assist you with performing the various checks, with a few, that can be conducted locally and internationally.

Using one of the many South African screening service providers that are licensed and credible will make the process much more efficient. What happens is these service providers normally have longstanding relationships with the data source’s (where the information is verified/confirmed) and can easily get the information you need, they have met the necessary requirements to obtain sensitive information on your behalf.

The long list of companies in South Africa offering background screening is extensive, some organisations may be more popular than others but you’re not limited to those the masses uses. When picking a service provider, pick one that gives you the best price, has a user-friendly platform and great customer support.

To emphasize the importance and value of background checks- they help provide clarity by confirming and verifying records, documents and employment history.

The results help you gain tangible evidence, make informed decisions and minimize risk in your life or organization.

What is risk

The Business Dictionary explains risk as “A probability or threat of damage, injury, liability, loss, or any other negative occurrence that is caused by external or internal vulnerabilities, and that may be avoided through preemptive action.”

Risk is facing potential dangers that will place you in quite an unfavourable situation and make life difficult. No one is particularly a fan of risk and do their utmost to avoid it.

Fortunately, risk most times can be managed, and background checks help prevent and eliminate risk by providing you with essential information that allows you to make well-informed decisions.

Why are background checks important

Background checks are essential for individuals and organizations because they help acquire the truth and minimise risk. Check results give depth and are an affirmation for individuals, that they are trustworthy and a relationship with this person will be beneficial.

Background check terms (verifications, screenings, references)

The nature of checks can be characterized by three categories: verifications, screening and references, which all have the purpose of revealing authenticity and threats about a subject.

Although various definitions and semantics exist around the subject of background checks and considering this may be the first of many articles you read on this site, we’d like to take a firm position on our definition of terms.

The following conditions will form the core definitions we will refer to in the rest of this article and future articles to come:

Terms widely used

Background Check/Investigation: The activity and process of gathering background information about a subject, with the intention to uncover known unknowns, as well as unknown unknowns with the goal of identifying threats and mitigating risks.

To us, this term represents a set of checks performed to achieve a more in-depth perspective of subjects overall trustworthiness.

Background Verification: Is the comparison of two or more items, or the use of additional tests, to ensure the accuracy or truth of the information. 

A verification check aims to confirm that the information given is accurate.

An example of background verification is Identity document checks, finding out if the document you have is valid and the information on it is a 100% factual.

In the case you perform a criminal record check, a copy of the person’s identity document will be sent to SAPS to see if the person has a record against their name or if they are “clean” and have never committed a crime.

Background Screening: The evaluation or investigation of something to discover if there is anything wrong with it. 

It’s looking up something to see if you will pick up any discrepancies.

Background checks are pre-employment screenings upon the employer’s request, this to see if the candidate is ideal or not.

References: Are the act of consulting someone or something to get information or advice.

Amongst the most common references are credit reference reports. Anyone can get their credit report for free annually from the National Credit Regulator.

In the case you need to run a credit report on someone else there are various National Credit Regulator accredited bureaus that can help you acquire it at a fee.

What is a credit bureau? 

” A credit bureau collects and stores data supplied by credit providers. The data is used to draw up a record of how consumers manage their credit. Credit bureaus fulfil the duty of gathering data and compiling reports on individual consumers and allocate them a credit score.” Debt Busters

A credit bureau compiles your credit rating and makes it available to banks and other companies. To put in in context, when you apply for credit from a credit provider, the creditor will reach out a credit bureau to find out what your credit history looks like and that will determine if they’ll give you the credit or not.

Credit information is not the only information credit bureaus have, they also have non-credit information about you like your current and previous addresses, current and prior employers, date of birth, and your salary information.

What you need to know about credit bureaus

Type of information credit bureaus collect

The bureaus collect as much information about you as they can, this can range from everything related to your credit history- when you opened your first clothing account and any debt under your name.

The amount of credit that is available to you, how much credit you’re currently using, outstanding debut and repossessions. Mentioned before non-credit information is also kept, this is mainly used to verify your identity.

Where is this information collected from?

Bureaus depend on various businesses to get consumer information. Banks and general stores (clothing, mobile and furniture stores) are some of the businesses they collect information from.

Different bureaus use various sources to get consumer information this also means that the information different bureaus carry can differ since they don’t use the same sources and methods to acquire the information.

Who uses credit bureaus information?

Banks, potential employers, insurance companies and debt collectors are some of the companies that use bureaus for consumer credit information.

While each company has its reasons for reaching out to bureaus, the one thing they have in common is pre-screening. Requesting the information from bureaus is a form of pre-screening to see whether or not you are a safe bet to give credit to, you keep to the repayment turns and are not under any financial review.

Your credit information could be incorrect

It’s not impossible that your information at one of the credit bureaus could be incorrect. It’s been found that a credit report has had incorrect information resulting in the consumer not being treated fairly by credit providers.

How does this happen? If there’s someone out there which I’m sure that is that has the same name and similar information to yours, human error can take place. If you suspect this with your credit report, legally you’re allowed to dispute the error and try to rectify it.

The legalities of background screening

The law surrounding background checks may not be general knowledge as you might think, this is because of the niche nature of the service, which is not a task performed regularly by the layman.

Since background screening is mainly gathering private information which at times can be sensitive, regulations and laws need to be in place so that any form of abuse can be detected and dealt with.

Various laws protect the privacy and personal information of consumers. We’ll start with the National Credit Regulator (NCR ) who they are and what they do. 

The National Credit Regulator (NCR)

” National Credit Regulator as the NCR and was established as the regulator under the National Credit Act 34 of 2005. The NCR is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry.”  Wikipedia

The NCR regulates South Africa’s credit industry. It was established for consumers to understand their financial situation and know their rights when it comes to credit and debt.

It monitors credit practices and deals with complaints from consumers who are dealing with unjust credit practices.

What the NCR aims to do is regulate the debt counselling industry by governing registration of debt counsellors, no one can operate as a debt counsellor unless they meet the NCR criteria.

The NCR has been put in place to maintain discipline and hold those who are searching for credit information accountable and can is the gatekeeper of credit in South Africa, created by the National Credit Act to ensure that it enforces the legislation and that it is understood.

The NCR’s responsibilities

Debt Rescue made a list of the NCR’s responsibilities so consumers can understand it’s purpose and value to their lives. The responsibilities of the NCR are:

  • Register and monitor the conduct of credit providers, credit bureau and debt counsellors.
  • Educate and increase awareness of the protection the NCA provides.
  • Suggest policy and legislation to government.
  • Research the credit market in the country and monitor access to credit and the cost of credit to find out any factors that may affect consumer protection, competitiveness and access to credit.
  • Manage complaints and make sure that consumers’ rights are protected.
  • Enforce the Act.

In the case, you’re unhappy with the way a company or debt counsellor handled you as a consumer you may lodge a complaint with the NCR. If the matter does fall under the NCR they’ll process your complaint and assist you accordingly.

Step by step outline of the NCR complaints process
NCR complaint process.

Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act:

POPI provides information about the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act and international Privacy practices.

Personal information is sensitive and those who handle it should handle it with caution. Acts like POPI help prevent misuse and abuse of consumers information and are held accountable.

It also offers products and services for helping organizations to prepare for compliance with the POPI Act.

8 Conditions the POPI Act Demands Compliance with

The POPI Act has eight conditions which it wants you to adhere to:

  1. Accountability = having ownership 
    Processing Limitation = processing information in a just manner and not infringe on any privacy laws
    Purpose Specification =attain personal information for a specific purpose;
    Further Processing Limitation = Further processing of personal information must be compatible with the purpose for which it was collected;
    Information Quality = ensuring that information is accurate and factual;
    Openness = being transparent with individuals about their personal information being obtained
    Security safeguards =  comprehensive security measures to be taken for the integrity of personal information
    Data Subject Participation = the individual has a right to request access, for the information to be deleted or corrected when necessary 
Some higglights from the POPI Act of South Africa
Crest Advisory Africa POPI Compliance Tips Infographic

Who is allowed to offer background check 

Essentially anyone is allowed or able to perform a background check. It’s not only recruiters, lawyers and organizations that are the only people that have a right and access to information that’s acquired through checks.

Many companies are offering background screenings to the masses, this is because they have made it convenient in one way or another to get a variation of vital information from one place and eliminating having to go to 5 sources, but use one service provider for the various background screening checks that are needed.

It’s essential to know the role of a credit bureau and how it operates, so you understand how and why your credit score is the way it is.

How are background checks being used in South Africa

In the context of recruitment organizations & recruiters, use background checks to ensure that the candidate they’re pursuing has the qualifications and experience they’ve presented.

It is ensuring that the recruiter and the organization hire the right candidate and that they will be able to do the job.

This also helps recruiters manage risk for their agencies and clients, protecting their source of income, in many instances recruiters only get paid once their candidate has been placed in an organization or after the probation period.

So if the candidate doesn’t live up to the expectations even though they have the correct qualifications and experience, the recruiter may not get their paycheck after spending time and money on performing background screening checks.

Background checks are just as crucial for individuals as they are for organizations. You can do a background check on yourself and find out what future employers and credit providers see when having a look at your profile.

This helps you to either maintain your favourable results or improve them and also understand the various background checks and their timings.

On the other hand, you can perform a background check on a person you may be thinking of engaging with on a personal or business level.

Running a background check on them will help you find out if they’re honest about their background, who they are, and what they do. Validating their bank account and checking for a positive record on the SAFPS “(South African Fraud Preventative Services ) will help you eliminate risks that may have a long term effect.

Types of checks 

Several checks can be conducted, the information is gathered from different sources that are specific to the check, most checks as a starting point require the candidate’s information:

  •  First Names
  •  Surname
  •  Maiden Name
  •  ID/Passport Number
  •  Date of Birth 
  • Candidate Email 
  • Contact Number  

and checks can be grouped according to the following categories:

Bank Account Verification 

Enables an individual’s or company’s bank account to be matched against their identity number or registration number (respectively). Also shows the status of the bank account.

What is needed to perform this check is the candidate’s information and the below :

  1. Account number 
  2. Account type 
  3. Branch code

The bank verifies the information and this sort of check is useful to employers, small businesses and individuals.

ID Verification

Authenticate prospective employees and business partners’ identities. The ID is validated and matched to surname. The candidate’s information is all that’s required.

Recruiters perform this check, individuals and organizations to ensure the individuals they are dealing with are who they say they are.

Citizenship verification

Confirm whether a candidate is a citizen of South Africa. This information is sourced from Home Affairs, and several people would perform this check ranging from organizations, recruiters and individuals.

SA Work Permit 

This check is to confirm the validity of a foreign nationals work permit, and if it’s still for South Africa and has been granted one.

It requires the candidate’s information along with with their passport and permit number

Employment History

Verify local and international employment history. Past employees are contacted to validate information, including company name, start and end date of employment, the position held (part-time/full time), company address and contact details.

This type of check is performed by recruiters or organizations hiring for candidates that have met all the requirements for a specific job listing and need to legitimize the work history on the candidate’s CV.

FAIS Comprehensive

Confirms the person handling finances in an organization complies with Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services.

Professional Association

Verify local and Global professional association membership as provided by the candidate. The professional association requires all of the above with the addition of the below:

  1. Name of association 
  2. Year of first membership
  3. Membership number 

This check will mostly be done by recruiters and employers to get the full scope on a candidate.

Academic Records 

When it comes to confirming and verifying academic records such as pre & post-1992 matric certificates, degrees and diplomas, you can do an academic check for Matric Pre 92 Umalusi, Matric Post 92 Umalusi, South Africa Qualification, N-Levels and Global Qualification.

These checks require the candidate’s information, the institution’s details and a copy of the certificate. Recruiters and employers are mostly the people who need the information.

Why Qualification Verifications Matter

Academic record checks, also known as qualification verifications, validate the authenticity of an academic certificate.

The academic qualifications comprise seven different checks ranging from basic to higher and education, short course and global qualification.

The information is validated directly from the specific institution.

The various qualification checks are:

  •  Matric Pre 92 Umalusi
  •  Matric Post 92 Umalusi
  •  SA University Qualification
  •  TVET and SA Teachers College
  •  Trade Certificate
  •  Certification/Short Course
  •  Global Qualification

Why it’s essential to perform academic verifications 

The education verification is most important to employers to match the qualification to the position needing to be filled.  

People falsifying their education credentials is quite popular, and that’s where verifying plays a huge role in detecting fake certificates. 

This type of verification is essential because it prevents bad hires, picks up on unethical individuals and confirms skill set. 

We’ve mentioned before that there’s nothing riskier for a business than a bad hire. Performing an academic verification on candidates helps eliminate hiring the wrong fit. 

It’s not rare for an individual to lie about their level of education and about the institution they went to -this type of unethical behaviour is done all in the name of securing the job. The academic verification will help you spot unscrupulous individuals, which you can flag and help out the next business from making a costly mistake. 

Another reason that makes this verification essential it assists employers to hire the person with the correct skill set that fits the job. 

What can be concluded is that academic verifications are a risk, reputation and employment management.

“Qualification fraud in South Africa has increased by as much as 200% from 2009 to 2014, according to new data.” quote from BusinessTech.

How does it work 

There are several places where one can verify qualifications in South Africa, depending on the institution and level of education. 

For the various academic checks, the standard information that is required is:

  • First Names
  •  Surname
  •  Maiden Name
  •  ID/Passport Number
  •  Date of Birth 
  • Candidate Email 
  • Contact Number 
  • Consent 

There is compulsory additional information required with each check. 

Matric Pre 92 Umalusi and Matric Post 92 Umalusi requirements: 

  • First Names on Certificate
  • Last Name on Certificate
  • Name of Institution
  • Qualification Year
  • Qualification Doc Type
  • Certificate Number
  • Attach a copy of the certificate 

 SA University Qualification

  • First Names on Certificate
  • Last Name on Certificate
  • Name of Institution
  • Name of Qualification
  • Campus/Branch
  • Province 
  • Qualification Type
  • Qualification Year
  • Student Number
  • Certificate Number
  • Attach a copy of the certificate 

TVET and SA Teachers College

  • First Names on Certificate
  • Last Name on Certificate
  • Field of Study
  • Qualification Type 
  • Name of Technical College
  • Qualification Year 
  • Campus/Branch
  • Certificate Number
  • Attach a copy of the certificate 

 Trade Certificate

  • First Names on Certificate
  • Last Name on Certificate
  • Name of Institution
  • Qualification Year
  • Campus/Branch
  • Certificate Number
  • Attach a copy of the certificate 

Certification/Short Course 

  • First Names on Certificate
  • Last Name on Certificate
  • Name of Institution
  • Name of Qualification 
  • Campus/Branch
  • Qualification Type
  • Certificate Number
  • Qualification Year
  • Attach a copy of the certificate 

Global Qualification

  • First Names on Certificate
  • Last Name on Certificate
  • Name of Institution
  • Name of Qualification
  • Campus/Branch
  • Qualification Country  
  • Qualification Type
  • Qualification Year
  • Student Number
  • Certificate Number
  • Attach a copy of the certificate 

Once you’ve selected the type of check, you want to perform and fill in the candidate’s information. The information is sourced straight from the institution, whether it’s a university, college or training academy. 

Results 

There are two possible results when it comes to this check. Either confirmed or unconfirmed. 

Different institutions will have their own name and explanations for resutls, but ultimately, they will result in they were able to confirm the qualification or they failed to. 

If confirmed, it means the individual obtained the qualification, and the institution of learning recognises and has their credential on their system/archives. 

With an unconfirmed result, the institution could not establish that the individual qualified and obtained their qualification. There are many reasons for this; it may be due to the incorrect input of information (names, dates or qualification don’t match the records).

Credit Reports 

Check candidates’ credit history through detailed TransUnion, Experian and XDS credit bureau reports.

The Compuscan, Experian and XDS credit enquiries will also require an enquiry reason for running checks. This applies whether it is for employment reasons or credit assessments. Credit providers, employers, and landlords perform these checks.

What is the value of the credit check/report?

Before we dive into the importance of the credit check, let us reiterate the information found in a credit report. The report holds all your debt, payment and account history and public records. 

The credit report is of value to an individual because it determines whether they’re eligible to get credit from loan providers, lease agreements for renting apartments, or even get hired for a job in the finance sector in particular. 

The credit report is of value to landlords, credit providers, and insurers alike. This is because it gives them insight into your financial mindset and status. It helps them understand how you manage money and credit. Do you make your monthly installments for accounts? How much credit have you acquired through the years? etc. 

The value of this check, like all the others, is not exclusive to one aspect. It is a collection of many utilities that hold different values that perhaps impact livelihoods. 

How does it work? 

In South Africa, when performing a credit check on an individual, you need a reason for that enquiry. This is to ensure compliance with Regulation 18(4)(c) and 19 (12) of the National Credit Act, Act 34 of 2005, according to the “NCA”. 

Reasons for enquiry may include: 

  • Affordability Assessment 
  • Principal Credit Information Query (Principal queries only)
  • Credit Risk 
  • Managing Credit Limit 
  • Debt Counselling (Principal queries only)
  • Employment (handling finances)
  • Fraud, Corruption or Theft Investigation 
  • Fraud Detection/Prevention 
  • Insurance Application 
  • Pre-Screening/Marketing 
  • Setting Limit 
  • Unclaimed Funds Distribution

Most credit bureaus allow you to perform a credit check for free once a year, where you’ll get your credit report and see your credit score. 

Which information is required

To perform the credit record check, you will need the following:  

  • First Names
  •  Surname
  •  Maiden Name
  •  ID/Passport Number
  •  Date of Birth 
  • Candidate Email 
  • Contact Number 
  • Consent 
  • Enquiry Reason 

Results 

A credit report comes with various information depending on whether the results are ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. To cite our previous blog Credit bureaus: who are they and what do they do, here’s what could come up in a credit report. 

Personal information

  • Name & Surname
  • Martial Status
  • Address
  • Employment Information
  • Contact Number

The information is gathered from the previous times you’ve applied for credit. It is essential to keep your information updated so your credit report reflects the correct information, so credit providers have the most current and accurate details.

Payment profile

Also known as the account history, it gives insight into your payment behaviour over the past two years, and data from up to five years are available on record.

Under this section, you can see when an account was opened, if you made timely payments on your accounts, credit limit and outstanding balances. Home loans, vehicle finance and store clothing accounts are available here.

Credit Listings

This is where you will see all the money you’ve received. Suppose you’ve failed to repay any of your debt and went against the terms and conditions of the repayment agreement. In that case, you may land a negative listing on your profile such as default, judgement or administration order.

Defaults

According to TransUnion, “Defaults – When you default on your credit repayments the credit provider will load a default notice on your credit report. There are two types of defaults: an enforcement default where enforcement action is taken such as bad debt written off or handed over, credit card revoked or repossession of goods takes place; and subjective default which entails the classifications of consumer behaviour resulting from delinquency, slow payments, absconding or not being contactable.”

Judgements

“A judgment is a court order that is the decision in a lawsuit. If a judgment is entered against you, a debt collector will have stronger tools, like garnishment, to collect the debt. The judge may also award additional fees against you to cover collection costs, interest, and possibly attorney fees.” says Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Trace Alerts

SACPA mentions that “A trace alert is a means to allow the credit provider or debt collectors to draw your attention to the fact that they cannot get hold of you on their current telephone in their database. They will usually supply their contact details with the Trace Alert. Once they place such notice on your profile, the other credit providers will not consider your application for credit in a positive light.”

Enquiries

The credit inquiries section is all the businesses that have requested credit information about you. Every time your credit profile is looked into, it’s recorded as an inquiry; there two types of enquiries hard and soft.

A soft enquiry is when you or a potential employer check your credit profile, this won’t affect your credit score.

Hard enquiry: when a credit provider views your profile to determine whether or not to you qualify for a big loan.

Reasons why credit record checks/report are beneficial 

A credit report shows your financial history; we mentioned earlier that it could impact your livelihood. It can be the deciding factor whether you get the job or your dream home. A well-maintained credit score will reflect positively on your report and give you more opportunities. 

The deciding factor to borrowing 

Credit lenders perform credit checks to see your credit reports (they may perform more than one credit check via different credit bureaus) to decide if you’re someone they can offer credit, or you’re a risk. 

Credit lenders have different regulations they abide by that determine you’re a person they would partner with. Some may see late payments or a lack of credit history as a red flag. 

Knowing what is on your report will show what creditors and possible employers see when viewing your financial history and also assist you in improving your credit profile if it isn’t in the best shape to 

Helps with credit fraud detection

Your credit report can help you detect credit fraud. You’ll quickly pick up on accounts and credit transactions that were not yours. 

It is very much possible for someone to do identity theft and open accounts and buy goods under your name, and undoing fraud is not always an easy task- that is why prevention is better than cure. 

Checking your credit report regularly is a definite advantage. It helps you not only keep on track with finances but avoids you having to deal with unnecessary explanations to landlords, employers and insurers.

Drivers Licence Check

Check the drivers’ licence status. This report provides you with drivers license information including date of issue and expiry, code status as well as endorsements.

The candidate’s information and driving license number are needed. Recruiters, logistic organizations and the automotive industry require this check to be.

Fraud Listings 

Indicate whether or not you’re a victim of fraud or have committed fraud. The candidate’s information is all that is required for this check and is run by recruiters, employers and small businesses.

Criminal Record Checks

Determine individual criminal record status with the South African Police Service via Afiswitch (automated fingerprint collection and processing); 91A form or using our Afiswitch Network.

Criminal records checks are free with a SA ID number can be quickly done online.

This check needs the candidate’s information and additional information such as the country, previous charges if any and fingerprint.

Why the Criminal Background Check is Paramount

Making background checks an essential part of your pre-employment process is an urgent step in the process most businesses have implemented but not all.

Background checks help you mitigate the associated risk with a bad hire, but what is it that almost makes the criminal record check one of the most critical checks compared to all the others?

The criminal record check is not only important on a business level but on all professional and services related levels (why shouldn’t a landlord perform a criminal check on the person who will be occupying their property?)

This blog will address why performing a criminal record check is a robust measure you should never take for granted.

What is the value of the criminal record check?

It would be great if we could prove the actual monetary value of the check. Besides the check being financially valuable, it also helps when it comes to reputation and safety.

When you perform a criminal record check to hire a candidate or for a service rendering deal, you are making sure that the person you’re engaging with is trustworthy and doesn’t have a history that can taint your reputation.

It’s hard to pinpoint the value of the check to one thing but to various points that may differ with every situation. Still, it can be said is that by performing it, you’re ensuring your safety and your employees, saving time and money and predicting and preventing the worst-case scenario from happening.

How does it work? 

You can not perform a criminal record check without a set of fingerprints. 

Once the biometric officer captures, the fingerprints they are checked with the South African Police Service via Afiswitch (automated fingerprint collection and processing), 91A form, or with a background screening organisations Afiswitch Network. 

You can perform a free online criminal record check with a SA ID number.

Which information is required

To perform the criminal record check you will need the following:  

  • First Names
  •  Surname
  •  Maiden Name
  •  ID/Passport Number
  •  Date of Birth 
  • Candidate Email 
  • Contact Number 
  • Consent 

Background Check Results 

The results will return within 48 hours and will either say Illicit Activity or Non-Illicity Activity. Illicit Activity means res either conviction/s, case/s awaiting trial, and outstanding warrants of arrest.

According to CSI Investigate, if a criminal record exists against your name, you can apply for a criminal record clearance if: 

  • The record has been in existence for at least a decade (10 years or more) and there has been no subsequent conviction(s).
  • The offence for which you were convicted was of a trivial nature, such as petty theft, shoplifting, fraud, certain politically motivated crimes, and crimes regarding which the punishment is now unconstitutional. Convictions of crimes of a serious nature, such as murder, rape and other sexual offences, armed robbery, and assault with the intention to do serious bodily harm, do not qualify for criminal record expungement.
  • You were given the option of paying a fine (R20,000 or less)
  • You were advised that paying a fine would not result in a criminal record but have subsequently discovered the existence of your criminal record.
The process of how to clear your name when you have a negative criminal background check record
Clearing a criminal record. Image supplied by justice.gov.za

Reasons why a criminal record check is beneficial

Money saver

How many times have you heard a bad hire is an unnecessary expense that’s a financial burden on the whole business and not the one department. 

What a criminal record check does is save you money now and in the future. People lie or leave out information about who they are and parts about their pasts that they know might cost them a job or an opportunity to get new business. Getting into business or some partnership with a history of scamming and theft will some way or another be a financial burden. 

Smart investment 

Knowing the status of someone criminal record helps you make better investments. 

Performing the check helps you have a secure and efficient process recruiting, hiring and partnership agreements. At every point, you’re making well-informed decisions that may have little to zero harmful impact.

Security

Knowing the results of a criminal check help keep you and anyone else involved safe. 

Not knowing whether or not you’ve hired a criminal means you’ve endangered not only your life but everyone who works with this individual. 

No matter what industry you’re in, safety is a huge priority that shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

Many people and organizations like to take shortcuts thinking there’s an easier and cheaper of doing things. Cutting corners with background screening and especially with e criminal record check is a risk no one should want to take. 

  • If a period of 10 years has not lapsed after the date of the conviction,
  • Or the suspect has been sentenced to direct imprisonment,
  • When a fine of more than R20 000 was imposed,
  • The suspect was sentenced to direct imprisonment (the imprisonment was not suspended and there was no option to pay a fine) during the relevant 10 year period.
  • His or her name is included in the National Register for Sex Offenders or the National Child Protection Register and his or her name has not been removed from the National Register for Sex Offenders or the National Child Protection Register.

Where is the information collected from (the sources and why them)

Depending on the check you perform that will determine where the information is sourced.

Credit bureaus such as TransUnion, MIE and Dots provide credit report information.

While criminal record information is retrieved from Afiswitch: Automated Electronic Criminal Record Checks South Africa.

Academic records are verified with the different educational institutions, higher education institutions throughout South Africa and Africa verify documents for an additional fee.

The matric certificate is verified with UMALUSI: Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training.

How long does a background check take in South Africa?

Service providers have different Service Level Agreement (SLA) for their background screening check. One may offer a business day, and another may say their SLA is anything between 2-4 business days for a criminal record.

Many factors cause results to take longer than expected, the first and foremost being the data source providers where the information that is needed is obtained.

They don’t allocate SLA’s for when you may get the results from them, resulting in a waiting game from the time you submit your check to when the results return.

SLA for Dots 360 checks

Standard Verifications
TransUnion Consumer ProfileReal-Time Response
Experian Credit Check RealTime Response
Criminal Illicit Activity Check2 business days
Afiswitch Premium Criminal Check4 business days
Additional Detail on Possible Positive6 – 8 Weeks
ID Verification & ValidationNext Business Day
ID Verification & Fraud ListingNext Business Day
Drivers Licence2 Business Days
Driver’s Licences – Incl. PrDP2 Business Days
Professional Driving Permit Verification2 Business Days
Matric Pre 1992 DOE2 – 6 Weeks
Matric Post 1992 UmalusiNext Business Day
Academic Qualifications (SA Only)Next Business Day
Dots360 standard checks SLA table.

Qualifications Verifications

National Matric Qualifications (post – 1992) (Umalusi)2 business day
National Matric Qualifications (pre – 1992) (DOE)– with a copy of the certificate2 – 6 Weeks
National Technical Certificates (DHET/DOE)2 – 6 Weeks
National Tertiary Qualifications – DegreesNext business day
National Tertiary Qualifications – Short Courses/Diplomas / CertificatesNo SLA
Sub Saharan African Qualifications3 -5 business days
ZimbabweNo SLA
CongoNo SLA
KenyaNo SLA
LesothoNo SLA
GhanaNo SLA
International Qualifications2-4 business days
UK7 business days
USA10 business days
India/AsiaNo SLA
AustraliaNo SLA
Dots360 Qualifications SLA table.

Types of Checks

Professional Association Membership – South AfricaNext business day
Professional Association Membership – InternationalNext business day
Employment History – South Africa Next business dayNext business day
Employment History – South Africa with Character ReferenceNext business day
Employment History – International3-4 business days
Fit & Proper Screening4 business hours
Consumer Goods CouncilReal-Time Response
Permanent Residency2 Business Days
Citizenship2 Business Days
Business Background Check4 business hours
Director Member SearchReal-Time Response
Dots360 background checks.

There are numerous reasons why a person or company would perform a background screening mostly it’s it for pre-employment screening. Results of a check determine whether or not an individual can be employed or trusted.

The cost of the background checks fall on the person or organisation that is requesting the checks. Service providers have different costings for their checks and there isn’t a flat rate applied for all service providers to abide by.

We previously mentioned that background screening is done to mitigate risk- this is how background screening should be seen, yes it may be a bit scary that someone wants to do a criminal record check on you but it’s necessary.

Also what needs to be normalised is candidates being wary and asking why a company doesn’t have any background screening processes. As an individual if a company doesn’t do any checks you should question if they’re trustworthy- if they don’t want to know the real you it may mean they don’t want you to know the real them.

Background screening in South Africa needs to be more of an inclusive and collaboration indusrty. The candidate or individual who is being screened has every right to be involved beyond giving consent, so they know their information is safe and can get the resuts of their checks.

That is why at Dots Africa the trust economy is a priority of ours and is constantly being thought of and implemented in every app build/upgrade so safer digital interactions happen and to ensure that we’re a service provider that is transparent and trustworthy.

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