After the tech world went remote, tech businesses can no longer trust their partners at face value – they must do some digging. The rapidly growing technology sector has raised the stakes for employers looking to onboard the best talent, making it essential to verify candidates’ work and education history, integrity, and potential fit within their organizations.
Background checks are the ultimate safety measure – they can help technology businesses learn more about their potential partners, from financial records and criminal history to credit rank info. The aim is to ensure a safe, collaborative, and productive work environment, directly influencing the success trajectory of tech companies and their future employees.
In this article, we’ll list the most common types of background checks that tech employers run on prospective candidates, what procedures and restrictions are unique within the three biggest LatAm countries, ways to obtain data by hand, and popular tech platforms for managing background checks at scale, for example, for hiring remotely.
Types of background checks
Someone’s past can give employers a glimpse into their potential as a hire and help protect against future liabilities. Understanding the various types of background checks is essential for ensuring the company’s safety.
When choosing what kinds of checks to conduct, it’s essential to remember that in LatAm, you should only request information that directly relates to the position at hand. For example, conducting a criminal check is justified if you hire someone working with finances or confidential information. Diving into someone’s criminal history for a role that doesn’t involve significant responsibility could lead to potential legal issues due to privacy disrespect.
Below are the common types of candidate background checks available in Latin America:
- Education. Education is often the go-to check for job applicants in tech. Educational institutions are contacted to verify dates of attendance, graduation date, and degree information. Most often, the highest degree obtained is verified.
- Employment. This type of check means contacting previous employers to confirm a few important details – the individual’s title while employed, employment period, and if they would qualify for rehire.
- References. Professional references are also sought out to get a better sense of someone’s background. We recommend asking candidates to provide references from previous employment and get in contact to learn what real pitfalls your company may face if let them in.
- Criminal Record Check. Occasionally, criminal records can also be checked; however, they only apply to certain roles or industries when necessary. A criminal background check helps employers get the scoop on potential hires by revealing any history of serious crimes or misbehavior.
- Passport (ID) Check. ID check helps to reveal identity theft and ensure you’re speaking to a real person. You can use services such as TrustID or iDenfy to verify their identities wherever you are.
- Credit Check. A search through credit databases shows any negative information related to commercial pending debts, bank pending debts, protests, unfunded checks, judicial actions related to financial matters, bankruptcy participation, overdue debts, and financial lawsuits. This service will not provide a full credit abstract, only a summary of any negative findings per law. A credit report can indicate financial responsibility for employees with fiduciary or cash handling responsibilities, access to expensive equipment, other people’s property, or otherwise placed in a position of financial trust.
- Civil Court Records. This check can reflect unpaid bills, disputes with contractors or customers, disagreements with landlords or tenants, and slander.
- Global Search. Sometimes, checking for criminal convictions only on a state or federal level isn’t enough. In such cases, global registers like Interpol, sanctions lists, and watchlists should be approached.
Less popular checks involve motor vehicle records and professional license verification. As for the software development industry, they aren’t common and may be seen as discriminatory in various jurisdictions.
Country-specific regulations must be followed when conducting background checks for employment. We’ve summarized important laws and bodies related to data privacy and employment per country – a great primer for understanding local practices in foreign countries if you want to set up a global recruitment plan.
Brazil’s laws are among the most loyal to accessing potential employees’ background information compared to other countries. In 2020, Brazil offered its citizens data protection with LGPD (General Data Protection Law). It limits how organizations use personal information and caps off how much you can access. Article 7 of this law sets out strict parameters for what qualifies as a legitimate interest. Companies that don’t comply with these regulations could encounter fines of up to 2% of their global annual revenue.
Technology workers generally can be screened as individuals dealing with confidential information, especially those qualifying for work in the financial industry. Still, before requesting any check, analyze carefully why it is necessary and ensure a rational relationship between the position being filled and the information requested, especially if it’s criminal records.
Types of checks available online
Criminal records in Brazil can be requested online using the form on the government website. Brazilian criminal charges are categorized into crimes (such as kidnapping, homicide, robbery, corruption, and drug trafficking) and misdemeanors (including disorderly conduct, petty theft, or driving under the influence.) Information returned will include serious criminal record convictions that fall into the crime category going back 7 years that have not been spent or pardoned (whereas pardon is possible no less than 5 years after conviction.)
The Secretariat for Public Security (SSP) is one more way to check the candidate’s criminal past. To use it, however, be ready to check each state’s website manually.
Another useful resource is Jusbrasil, a platform that connects individuals and lawyers by providing them with comprehensive legal data. You can check if the person in question is on trial or find similar information there. Meanwhile, the company was founded in 2008 and is based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Also, you can check online the candidate’s driver’s license DETRAN through the State Transportation Agency register if the position implies driving.
You may request a CPF number (11-digit local tax ID), in-country address, all variations of the employee’s name, mother’s full maiden name, copy of ID, and copy of driver’s license.
Mexico has more complex laws than other countries in the Latin American region. On the federal level, Mexico has had a comprehensive data protection law – the Federal Personal Data Protection Law – in place since 2010. One of its strictest parts, protecting the ARCO (access, rectify, cancel, and/or object to personal data processing) rights of Mexican citizens, doesn’t impact the data collected by background search companies, which leads to faster processing times. However, permission is required from a Mexican citizen before diving into a search. Mexican law provides tacit consent, which isn’t found in US law. If a Mexican citizen receives a privacy notice and doesn’t voice any objections, then the background check is free to proceed.
Also, the data privacy law outlines how you can treat personal data to guarantee an employee’s privacy. Your employees should be able to expect confidentiality in all data-handling activities. If there is a security breach concerning an individual’s personal data, the individual must be notified of the breach immediately. Also, the Data Protection Act considers criminal records confidential and sensitive information. To obtain such information, you must have the data owner’s consent.
Penalties for violating privacy and data protection laws in Mexico are fines ranging from 100-320,000 days minimum wage in Mexico City and imprisonment for 3 months to 3 years, depending on the severity of the transgressions.
Types of checks available online
Candidates’ criminal convictions can be accessed in the Federal Criminal Record Certificate. Prior it was issued only directly to Mexican citizens face-to-face; now, there’s an opportunity for third parties to request a copy of the certificate online within 72 hours. Please note that some states may not provide information to the federal register, so requesting criminal records on the state level is also recommended. Still, only this certificate is valid for procedures abroad.
You may request a CURP Number, copy of IFE (voter’s) card, full address, all variations of the employee’s name, mother’s full maiden name, copy of passport, and copy of driver’s license. Also, screening platforms usually request a release form signed by a candidate to comply with the law and conduct searches on your behalf.
Employers in Argentina can run checks that are not used for discriminatory purposes, do not violate the applicant’s right to privacy, and are used reasonably. Still, they are prohibited from performing criminal background checks on their actual or prospective employees under Habeas Data Law No. 23,326. Employers or prospective employers cannot require information about criminal convictions there.
Criminal records can only be accessed by a judge or personally by the individual, meaning you can ask a candidate or a legal representative to get this data, but only the candidate will ultimately obtain and provide the document.
Types of checks available online
A criminal record certificate in Argentina is issued by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights online within 1–24 hours. It isn’t free – the certificate cost starts at $300 (the longest turnaround time.) This form can be used by the candidate only. The resulting certificate a candidate may provide you with should look like this:
Picture. Example of a Digital Criminal Record Certificate (source)
You may request CPF # number, date of birth, full address, color copy of driver’s license, mother’s maiden name, and all employee name variations. Also, screening platforms usually request a release form signed by a candidate to comply with the law and conduct searches on your behalf.
The legal landscape of Latin America is convoluted and requires careful consideration before requesting any background information on prospective employees. Still, it’s a valuable resource to save time on hiring and onboarding irrelevant candidates that may damage the company’s reputation or do any other harm. From our experience, it’s best to entrust legal and compliance issues to professionals in each country when entering new markets since local agencies can access more information and know local market tricks and specifics. Following the guidelines in this how-to guide gives you an overview of the steps necessary to protect your business interests in this vibrant region.