Agencies requiring background checks
Thread poster: Annie Sapucaia

Annie Sapucaia  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:09
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Dec 22, 2014

I'm currently in communication with a new agency and they asked me to complete a background check, performed by a third party via a secure online application. I've never had this request before and though I have nothing to hide, I am a little wary of providing so much information to an agency that I have yet to work with (though they have great reviews on BB).

What do you think of agencies requiring such a thing? Has anyone done this?


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 23:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Cause to be wary! Dec 23, 2014

Annie Sapucaia wrote:

I'm currently in communication with a new agency and they asked me to complete a background check, performed by a third party via a secure online application. I've never had this request before and though I have nothing to hide, I am a little wary of providing so much information to an agency that I have yet to work with (though they have great reviews on BB).

What do you think of agencies requiring such a thing? Has anyone done this?


I wouldn't be too worried about an agency doing background checks on me. After all, I myself do background checks on ALL my clients, be they private individuals, businesses or agencies - or even government services. That's an integral part of my risk management policy.

What I most certainly would be worried about in the scenario you describe is the agency's use of a 'third party' to do checks on that agency's behalf. Who is that 'third party' REALLY working for? The agency? No, of course not! They're working for themselves! They are collecting personal/professional data about people who have graciously been identified by the agency that hires them, as being members of certain socio-economic groups (freelance professionals with exhorbitant (?) incomes and precious little by way of corporate protection, for example).

Just say 'No'. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Say_No )

Or, at the very least, you should do a detailed background check on the 'third party'.


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Ildiko Santana  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:09
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...

MODERATOR
similar issue Dec 23, 2014

Hi Annie,
For what it's worth, I asked our esteemed colleagues a few months ago about a similar dilemma; you might find good advice there:
http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/276853-third_party_background_check.html
(I decided in the end not to proceed.)


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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 12:09
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
No Dec 23, 2014

A couple of months ago one agency asked me to complete a background check. I had been working with them for 2 years prior this request. I did not mind third parties checking my degree or credentials but I certainly did not want grant them permission to check my bank account (!!!) and other financial arrangements (it was a long list). I do not know what their real intentions were (they of course were using the expression "for security reasons to protect our customers") but I do not see why I need to provide people with my financial information, so I said no hesitation in saying "no"..

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:09
Russian to English
+ ...
Most US governmental agencies and private contacting agencies Dec 23, 2014

Annie Sapucaia wrote:

I'm currently in communication with a new agency and they asked me to complete a background check, performed by a third party via a secure online application. I've never had this request before and though I have nothing to hide, I am a little wary of providing so much information to an agency that I have yet to work with (though they have great reviews on BB).

What do you think of agencies requiring such a thing? Has anyone done this?
do it--it's normal. So do the courts--otherwise definitely not--do not let any other agencies check your background or even credit history. (just some governmental, perhaps)This has nothing to do with translation. It might be different for interpreters because you cannot send an interpreters with past felony convictions to certain places.

[Edited at 2014-12-23 08:56 GMT]


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Annie Sapucaia  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:09
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Let's see what happens... Dec 23, 2014

Thanks to all of you for your great comments.

Ildiko - thanks for the link to that topic. I had seen it, just wanted to see if I could get any more input in this particular situation.

I just wrote to them and told them that I would be unable to proceed because I'm just not comfortable with giving out such personal information. They even require a scan of my passport! Why on earth would a translation agency need such a thing? I understand that they don't want to work with criminals, but, as others have pointed out, *they* are the ones paying me, not the other way around. It just all seems terribly excessive for an independent contractor. I wonder how many agencies require a background check - personally this is a first for me.


UPDATE - Just got an email from them saying that this is not *their* policy, but simply that some clients require translators to have had checks done because the documents are so sensitive. That makes more sense than my initial thought that the agency itself was requiring this. Either way, they told me that the agency itself has no access to my personal information.

[Edited at 2014-12-23 14:12 GMT]


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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 04:09
Member (2006)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Identity theft waiting to happen Dec 23, 2014

Have we not just lately had to deal with certain dishonest people passing themselves off as translators who then rip off other clients, by using false names?

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Annie Sapucaia  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:09
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, but... Dec 23, 2014

is this really a risk when the company performing the background check is well-known and widely used?


Paul Lambert wrote:

Have we not just lately had to deal with certain dishonest people passing themselves off as translators who then rip off other clients, by using false names?





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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:09
English to Dutch
+ ...
There are background checks Dec 23, 2014

and background checks by third parties. A few years ago, a government agency had a background check on me done by an outside agency. I went to the third party's office and talked to a 'background checker.' When it was over, I asked him what HIS background was. "I served in the military," he said. "What did you do," I asked. "I was a cook," came the reply.

I (barely) stopped myself from making any 'smart' remarks. But I have never trusted third party background checkers since. By the way, I got the clearance.


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 22:09
Romanian to English
+ ...
honestly, I see some paranoia here Dec 23, 2014

It is very normal for a governmental agency that deals with confidential documents, to ask the language service provider to have its translators background checked.

Yes, it is normal to provide a copy of your passport; this way you can prove that you are citizen of the country. There ar governmental agencies that allow ONLY citizens to do the work.

As Shakespeare once said: Much ado about nothing.

Happy Holidays,

Lee


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Annie Sapucaia  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:09
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not governmental Dec 23, 2014

lee roth wrote:

It is very normal for a governmental agency that deals with confidential documents, to ask the language service provider to have its translators background checked.

Yes, it is normal to provide a copy of your passport; this way you can prove that you are citizen of the country. There ar governmental agencies that allow ONLY citizens to do the work.

As Shakespeare once said: Much ado about nothing.

Happy Holidays,

Lee


Thanks for your input, Lee. However, this is not a governmental agency, which is why I found it odd. But perhaps it is not that big a deal, I really don't know.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Be careful Dec 23, 2014

I would politely asked them why they require this information, adding that no other agencies have ever asked for it.

They will probably never tell you why they require it.

Since, as you say, they are not dealing with official translations that require particular confidentiality, then you should be very careful about giving anyone your personal details before you have actually worked for them. Normally your bank details should only make their first appearance on your first invoice for work completed. You should never ever give anyone the details of your passport unless it's to some official body in your own country.

Being mindful of the many international scams that are reported on a regular basis in these forums, I might suspect there may be a risk of these people using your bank details to make unauthorised payments to you, as a money-laundering scam.

Be careful!

[Edited at 2014-12-23 18:08 GMT]


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Andrea Muller  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:09
English to German
+ ...
Maybe I am paranoid, but Dec 23, 2014

I don't think I would want to go through all this for a new agency who might never give me any work. And I often read here that the more forms, agreements etc. an agency asks translators to complete, the less likely it is that any work will follow...

And, in any event, before agreeing to have such a check done, I would want to know more about data protection issues, like

- If the agency does not have access to the personal information collected about you, who else will have access? The agency's clients? Will the agency tell you who they are?

- And what is your relationship with the company holding the information if it turns out that you will never work for the agency at all, or not work on projects of the 'sensitive' clients? Would they even be under any obligation to keep your information safe? Will the information be destroyed if at some point in the future you no longer want to work for the agency?

- Will you get a copy of the information obtained about you, so you can check it is accurate?

And are you sure that you would not end up paying for the check, either at the point of carrying out the check or in future, by way of deductions from any payments due to you from the agency?


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