Background checks

If your employees have access to information such as clients’ credit card numbers, your company is at risk every day.

“We’ve never had an incident of credit card fraud, but things like that do happen,” says Kathy Bower, manager of employee compensation for Highlights for Children.

The company publishes the popular children’s magazine, as well as other products for kids, and the Columbus campus houses the business units, including telesales.

“The department has a high turnover,” Bower says, “and deals with customers’ credit cards.”

So the company began using an online background check program developed by OPENonline LLC in Columbus. The OPENonline employment screening service allows Bower to search county and federal criminal and civil records and verify potential employees’ Social Security numbers.

“It helps us to confirm that the person is who he says he is,” she says.

OPENonline has other programs that help employers obtain driving records and verify educational degrees, work history and professional licenses, but Bowers says Highlights confines its use of the system to criminal record checks and Social Security number verifications.

Highlights has been using the technology for five years, primarily on its new hires in telesales and the distribution center. Before that, it did not perform background checks.

“We did reference checks, and we had a growing awareness of the need to do background checks, too,” says Bower. “It really deals with the issue of negligent hiring. We don’t want to hire someone convicted of credit card fraud in our telesales department.”

While the majority of background checks come up clean, occasionally the company comes across someone with a record.

“We don’t automatically eliminate the person from consideration,” Bower says. “We handle each incident on a case-by-case basis.”

The online program has improved since Bower started using it. “It’s faster, but it can still take a few days to get a record,” Bower says, “because not all of the states are online.”

And it’s a cost-effective tool, as well.

“We feel that it does help protect customers and our employees,” she says. “It reduces our risk. It’s like buying an insurance policy.” How to reach: Highlights for Children, (614) 486-0631 or