Background Checks versus Identity Verification: What's the Difference?

Background Checks versus Identity Verification: What's the Difference?

Adding new employees to your team always involves some risk. You want to ensure you’re bringing on qualified candidates worthy of representing your company. But how can you validate applicants in today’s digital world? What’s the difference between performing background checks versus using identity verification services?

At RapidVerify, we get these questions a lot from our customers in hiring roles. There’s some confusion surrounding the various tools to screen candidates before final onboarding. Though the terms sound similar, background checks and identity confirmation address related but distinct needs.

In this article, we’ll break down the key differences between these pre-employment vetting options. Our goal is to provide clarity so you can determine the best safeguards for building your workforce.

Defining the Terms

First, let’s level set our definitions. Identity verification uses technology to confirm if someone is who they claim to be. It matches elements like an applicant’s name, address, date of birth, and social security number across various databases to validate authenticity.

Background checks, on the other hand, review an individual’s past history to uncover any red flags like criminal records, education fraud, or former terminations. They dig deeper into a candidate’s background beyond confirming their legal identity.

Remote Identity Confirmation Checks for Fraud

Identity verification acts as a first line of defense against potentially fraudulent applicants. Skilled imposters can falsify all kinds of credentials that appear legitimate on paper. This is surprisingly common - over 85% of HR managers report catching lies on resumes.

Document verification protects against this by screening applicants for ID integrity issues in real-time. It also prevents unfair discrimination by focusing solely on factual personal data matches, not demographics or other subjective criteria. Applying uniform ID confirmation early in the hiring process allows you to filter and prioritize candidates based on verified credentials.

Background Checks Investigate Past Behavior

While identity verification validates that candidates are who they claim, additional due diligence like background checks are still prudent for some roles. Factors like criminal history, employment gaps, incarceration records, and sanctions lists provide crucial insights around applicant suitability.

Specialized screeners tailor these reviews based on relevant aspects for a given position. For example, driving records matter for transportation hires, while licensing verification is key in healthcare. Budget extra time for compiling background check findings and discussing any adverse impacts.

Strike the Right Balance for Your Needs

Responsible hiring teams aim to minimize their risks while providing an equal, ethical process for applicants. Identity verification and background checks fulfill separate but equally important objectives. Confirming legal IDs as a universal first step filters for potential fraud. More detailed investigations later in the pipeline offer fully informed decisions around any specific risks.

The right balance depends on your business context. RapidVerify delivers adaptable tools to confirm identities and automate I-9 compliance. Contact us to craft a tailored, efficient hiring workflow that meets your risk tolerance and priorities.