Do you really know who you’re hiring?

Issue 5 2021 News

Conducting background checks on service providers and employees has always been restricted to large organisations such as corporations and government departments. Now, anyone in South Africa can do so, thanks to a new online platform called iKNOWyou.

Targeted at property owners, parents and small businesses, this newly launched online personal vetting solution by Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), provides users with better insight into who they are employing or contracting. The platform first runs identity verification to assess whether individuals are indeed who they say they are and provides further information by means of a criminal check.

“With criminal activity and identity theft on the rise, coupled with the increasing difficulty in tracking people in a fast-growing population, hiring and giving access to your premises is riskier than ever,” says Jennifer Barkhuizen, head of communications at MIE. “Often, desperation to find employment can increase the risk of candidates misrepresenting their professional, criminal and academic histories to secure a job opportunity.

“There is also the threat of criminals posing as employees for the purposes of committing a crime. All employers, whether large organisations or individuals employing household help, should be able to perform the necessary due diligence to make an informed decision.”

While large organisations have easily been able to access such background checking platforms, this online platform now gives added peace of mind to those allowing employees or contractors into their homes, from helpers, gardeners, tenants and renovators, to care workers, coaches, health care providers and more.

MIE’s 10th annual Background Screening Index showed that close to two million background checks were requested in 2020. While there was a 700% increase in social media requests as a part of candidate screening over the previous year, criminal checks remain the most requested check year-on-year. Although risk levels dropped in 2020, these are expected to increase in 2021, due to increased unemployment and economic strain.

Initially, iKNOWyou will offer identity and criminal checks, and will later expand its service offering to include other forms of screening such as credit and qualification checks. Tapping into the South African Police Services database, the system runs fingerprint scans and provides detailed criminal reports, while confirming people’s identities.

Currently, corporates are required to install their own dedicated fingerprint scanning devices and adhere to strict protocols to conduct background screening. However, on iKNOWyou, users simply create an account on the website and complete the request, including the details of the person under review.

The individual being vetted is then sent a link to set up an appointment for biometric screening at a designated site of their choice. MIE has a wide network of fingerprint capturing sites nationwide, which is rapidly being expanded to meet the demand; these include selected Net1 and Standard Bank branches.

“Our launch will initially focus on offering this vetting service in the main commercial metros, but we will respond to demand over time and also establish a presence in more remote areas,” says Barkhuizen. “We envisage iKNOWyou as soon being an essential part of doing business, running a household and keeping South African families safe.”

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