Volunteer Background Checks
There are certain activities and jobs that are particularly attractive to various types of criminals as a cover for their activities. Driving is one, and volunteering is another. Volunteers get access to all kinds of communities and opportunities. Ideally, a background check will be conducted on every volunteer, similar to one that might be conducted for a new employee.
Although volunteers don’t get paid, they are certainly in a situation to do all the same things that a bad employee might do. Some restrictions apply when conducting volunteer background checks, though. It’s unethical to conduct a check that turns up information that is irrelevant to a person’s activity as a volunteer. For example, a credit check is probably not necessary in most cases, although a criminal check will be.
The Privacy Issue
Questions that might be raised on this issue are: “Should a volunteer have the right to defend himself against negative information that turns up, which may affect his status as a volunteer?” Information from a volunteer background check should be closely guarded. The individual’s privacy is compromised if anyone but essential personnel see the file, and legal action may result.
Allowing a background check to fall into the hands of unauthorized persons could actually pose a risk to the subject of a check. This should be guarded against. Identity theft is a very real risk these days. Exposing a volunteer to criminal behavior is seriously negligent.