Completely investigate the company handling any part of the check for you. Civil searches are a great place to begin; if a business previously messed up they would likely have been sued by the outsourcing company or by the applicant. Civil searches should be checked at both the county and the federal level. Other searches to consider are Better Business Bureau (BBB), bankruptcy, reference, and general internet on both the business and their leadership.
Don't be afraid to ask the vendor what type of checks they run on their employees; after all, they are a screening company! They should run an address search for name, alias information and criminal background searches, at a minimum. It is great if they perform employment and reference checks too. If you’re in a regulated industry ensure that they are performing the necessary sanction or other required searches.
Once you have a business or two in mind, consider sending a few test files. Choose files already completed so you can compare results. Files should range in difficulty; in other words, don't just send files where everything’s easily validated or where the record was “all clear”. Removing phone numbers and other information will allow you to get a feel for how they handle situations that happen regularly. And don't forget to track their turn-around time!
Once you’ve selected the vendor, the vetting of their performance shouldn’t end. Just like in credentialing, it’s important to check and continue to verify. Periodically send provider files previously worked to validate performance and to ensure they’re performing the searches correctly and thoroughly. Also, depending on the type of files worked, you may be able to track and trend results. For example, if they’re performing criminal record searches, you should be able to review month to month results of the percentage of applicants with records. If they’re continually returning “no criminal records found” or “all credential items as verified," it may be a red flag!
Remember this, regardless if you outsource or perform searches in-house; you're ultimately responsible! You can’t simply assume the vendor or their staff is doing what’s necessary or required. Clearly document your expectations and if you've delegated credentialing be sure you meet all the requirements outlined in the standards such as The Joint Commission (TJC).