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Offshoring & ID Theft: Is Your Background Check PII Leaving the Country?

by Tom Ahearn 5/11/2009 10:34:00 AM

When people apply for a job these days, there is typically some form of pre-employment background check before the actual hire. Applicants agree to give background check companies their Personal Identifiable Information (PII) such as name, date of birth, and social security number – in other words, all of the information needed to commit identity theft.

What job applicants do NOT realize is that there is a substantial likelihood that the PII collected during a background check will end up far beyond U.S. privacy laws, in a foreign call center or data processing location where there is little, if any, privacy protection.  Why?  Because large U.S. background check companies routinely engage in "offshoring" a great deal of PII everyday without telling clients or applicants.

Offshoring – or offshore outsourcing – is the business practice of transferring of jobs and services to low-cost labor markets by using companies internationally to complete tasks formerly performed in house in order to increase profits.  While offshoring helps U.S. background check firms lower costs, these activities bring great risk to the personal privacy and PII data of U.S. citizens in the form of identity theft.

In recent years, offshoring PII data and services has led to identity theft and lost privacy, from workers from an offshore call center defrauding U.S. bank customers to an undercover investigation revealing identity theft gangs selling thousands of offshored credit card and passport details for as little as $5.00. As a result, many states have taken measures to prevent the misuse of PII in order to fight the rising tide of identity theft. The federal government has taken action with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Also, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides additional protection against identity theft.

Unfortunately, all such protections against identity theft as a practical matter cease to exist once offshoring sends PII out of the United States.  While some countries outside of the U.S. have strong data and privacy protection laws, many places where information is sent offshore for processing have little or no practical identity theft protection. These countries are selected for offshoring because they offer a way to cut costs. In addition, American job applicants have no ability to enforce their privacy rights overseas. With little or no practical or cost-effective access to foreign courts, it is difficult for a U.S. consumer to contact a foreign police department to lodge a complaint about identity theft or to obtain assistance.

The lack of any meaningful protection once U.S. data is sent offshore is a major hurdle in the effort to combat identity theft and to protect privacy. – a pioneer in personal background check services for individuals – believes that if PII is to be sent outside of the U.S., that:

  • Background check companies engaging in the practice of offshoring PII should first provide disclosure to the consumer that such data is going offshore and give that consumer an opt-out option;
  • Background check companies engaging in the practice of offshoring PII must in good faith describe what privacy protection exists for that data;
  • In the event background check companies do not know if data is being sent offshore, or what privacy protection exists, then they must disclose that to the consumer as well;
  • As part of a background checking process, any Social Security Number (SSN) that goes offshore must be truncated (i.e. shortened or cut up, so as not to give the full SSN).

We believe your data… is yours. Your privacy concerns are our privacy concerns. By giving yourself a "personal" background check with an account from BEFORE you apply for a job, you can ensure that your personal information stays private and protected.

  • We do NOT practice offshoring Personal Identifiable Information (PII).
  • We do NOT resell data to skip tracers, lawyers, or marketing lists.
  • We do NOT use foreign nationals abroad to access your cases or call on your behalf.
  • We are NOT owned by a credit bureau or by data aggregators.

For more information about’s offshoring policy and PII and identity theft protection services, please visit us at, email, or call 1-800-503-2364.

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