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How Far Should a Job Screening Go? 675

Posted by Cliff
from the where-would-you-draw-the-lnie dept.
SlashSquatch asks: "My sister is getting screened for a programming position with a financial firm. I was alarmed to hear she'll be getting fingerprinted at the Sheriff's Office as part of the screening process. Instantly I conjure up scenes of frame-ups and corporate scandals. I want to know, should this raise a flag? Would you submit to fingerprinting, blood tests and who knows what else (financial, genetic code, and so forth) for a programming position?"
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How Far Should a Job Screening Go?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:50AM (#19159025)
    Happy sunshine trusting in the inate good in all people is how we got Active X controls that could format your hard drive from the web. Sometimes, people are douchebags. And while you know your sister, most people in the world don't. With what's at stake, they'd prefer to avoid the scenerio in which they have to explain their lack of due care with respect to retroactively obvious red flags in her background. You could always, out of the kindness of your heart and fraternal love, pay her to sit at home and play Wii.
    • by Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:17AM (#19160111)
      I tend to agree with my anonymous colleague. I am sorry to hear that the submitter of this story is alarmed (OK, in truth I am only sorry that the submitter doesn't see the good sense in this practice), but if your sister is going for a position where she has the potential to alter bank records, install backdoors into financial systems, divert funds, etc, then I think that a fingerprint check is totally justified. Good old fashion horse sense and prudence has to be maintained in with some types of jobs, and this is one of them.
      • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:09AM (#19161131) Journal

        then I think that a fingerprint check is totally justified.

        And what happens to them after the 'check' is over? They doubtless sit on file somewhere.

        The Gov't can't force you to turn over fingerprints or DNA without probable cause but your employer can force you to do it to get a job and then let it sit in a Gov't database for the rest of your life? And people meekly surrender to this!

        Freedom is dead.

        • by Score Whore (32328) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:15AM (#19161233)

          ...but your employer can force you to do it to get a job...


          First, if you don't have the job yet, they're not your employer. Second, I don't think you have a very clear idea of what force is. Third, if you don't like the requirements of the job, go work for a dot-com. Nobody is forcing you to work for a bank.
          • by rblancarte (213492) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:10AM (#19162237) Homepage
            And let's also add to this, they are doing a SCREENING. They are probably looking up her fingerprints against known criminals. I am sure they are doing this to make sure she hasn't done masterful job of identity theft. You can change IDs, not fingerprints.

            I agree with you Score - don't like it, drop out of the running for the job. There are a ton of jobs that don't require this.

            RonB
            • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:27AM (#19162605) Homepage
              And let's also add to this, they are doing a SCREENING. They are probably looking up her fingerprints against known criminals. I am sure they are doing this to make sure she hasn't done masterful job of identity theft. You can change IDs, not fingerprints.

              You are assuming that the programmers, admins, etc working with the fingerprint database have been screened. :-)
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by skarphace (812333)

              And let's also add to this, they are doing a SCREENING.

              This is not a screening. This is so they have your fingerprints on file. It's an SEC regulation and, if I remember correctly, the Broker/Dealer is who keeps it on file, not the government or police. I worked for a financial institution and had to get this done.

              The purpose of this is to keep them on file in-case. This way they can check fingerprints on files, cash, etc if something happens. You get a card from the B/D, you take it to the loca

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jeffasselin (566598)
          I'm going to say something that might shock people here, but what does the government use these fingerprints in the database for? AFAIK, there's only one use for it: comparing prints on a crime scene and finding who they belong to. Are you telling me that's a bad thing? Are you suggesting any other uses for it? It's not like a genetic profile that could be used for other stuff, it's just fingerprints...
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Shakrai (717556)

            It's not like a genetic profile that could be used for other stuff, it's just fingerprints...

            "It's just [fill in the blank]" is how it starts. Did anybody seriously think that the SSN would become the universal identifier for Americans that it now is? Ever hear of functionality creep?

            Are you telling me that's a bad thing?

            It's a bad thing that in order to have a livelihood that people are forced to turn over biometrics that will sit (indefinitely) in a database somewhere.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by misleb (129952)
            I'd prefer not to be on the list of people they cross-reference for every single crime looking for suspects. Seems like there's a chance that your prints might incorrectly match someone else... or it is close enough... and you get taken in for questioning or worse.
        • And what happens to them after the 'check' is over? They doubtless sit on file somewhere.

          At least different fingerprint cards are used for screening and arrests, so there is context as to why your prints are in the system. Also, there is the potential to expire the screening prints (pre-job), as opposed to sensitive employee prints (you accepted the job). Promote legislation to do so if you care.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by metamatic (202216)
        What exactly does having someone's fingerprints gain you in financial security? So Sister embezzles $1m by wiring it to Switzerland... now what? What do those fingerprints get you?

        Seems to me it's a great way to weed out good people in favor of people who can't get any other job.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by palutke (58340)
          What exactly does having someone's fingerprints gain you in financial security? So Sister embezzles $1m by wiring it to Switzerland... now what? What do those fingerprints get you?

          They get you the chance to see if she embezzled at her last job. Somebody with a conviction for any white-collar crime shouldn't work as a programmer for a financial institution. Checking fingerprints is the most reliable way of performing a criminal background check.
  • by DaveCar (189300) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:51AM (#19159033)
    then that is too far
    • Most companies require at a minimum a drug screening, and maybe a physical too. I'd say both of those would mandate the use of latex gloves.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by LinuxGeek (6139) *
        I think they were referring to a more goatse like interview. Run. Like. Hell.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        If you hiring process can't screen out addicts, fire HR, don't treat your employees like cattle.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by toleraen (831634)
          ...except the addicts I've known in my life were extremely good at social engineering. Hence they were able to 'legitimately' acquire their poison of choice. One guy I knew in high school fooled multiple doctors (medical & psychiatric) into believing he had BPD to get a big Rx for Xanax. Something tells me he's going to be able to fool your average HR employee.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BVis (267028)
          I can't believe I'm arguing in favor (obliquely) of invasive screening, but IMHO if you rely on HR for anything more complicated than displacing air, you're asking for trouble.

          That being said, I have no objection to a criminal background check. I'd argue that if someone is a drug addict and is smart enough to have avoided conviction, then that person is smart enough to do the job I'm hiring them for. (The odds of someone having a drug problem to the point where it would affect their job performance withou
      • by stuntpope (19736) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:15AM (#19160071)
        I have never had a drug screening, nor a physical as a part of employment or prospective employment. Almost all my jobs have been white-collar, office-type of work, with the last 4 being programming and IT. I'm in the USA, maybe it's different in other countries.

        When I took a position that required a military security clearance, I was fingerprinted AFTER I'd already accepted the position. It wasn't done as a screening process during the interview/consideration stage. I wonder how far along in the process this sister is? If she knows she gets the job once she passes the screening, it seems reasonable to me that a financial firm knows whether its employees have a criminal record, beyond expecting the applicant to be truthful on the application.

        I really don't see why the story submitter is conjuring up fears of frame-ups and scandals. Should it raise a flag? A flag signifying what? That the sister will be employed and soon after will have to use the one-armed man excuse as she runs for her life?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by aaarrrgggh (9205)
          The military security clearance process requires non-constitutional forfeitures of rights. They can't make you do that until after you are an employee.

          Doing work for any financial institution will require a background check. Just to access some data centers I have been fingerprinted. The fingerprinting generally seems to be more regional, being more prevalent in the northeast US and less on the west coast.
  • Way to extreme (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As someone who has a criminal record, I find these processes way to extreme. Currently with my job working for the NSW Department Of Education, there is routine background checks to check that your not a child sex offender, other offences will affect your employment but not definate.

    But its going to far when they require you to have your finger prints recorded, I would personally turn down a job which required my finger prints to be recorded, the only time in this industry you would need your finger print r
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Targon (17348)
      Since we are talking about a financial institution here, the honesty of employees MUST be checked. Previous criminal activity of applicants would probably be a bad thing there. In addition to this, if there IS a crime, searching for fingerprints would probably be standard, so having the fingerprints of all employees on-file would probably make it easier to screen who may have done it.

      Also, fingerprint recognition would be a way to verify that applicants are not using an alias/fake ID with a criminal rec
  • Ummmm.... No. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kg4czo (516374)
    Why on earth would they fingerprint anyone for a programming position? My guess is simply because they can, and that if you don't submit to it you don't get the job.

    Taking a gene profile is going waaaaay over the top. They can kiss my lilly-white butt.
    • Re:Ummmm.... No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kevin Stevens (227724) <kevstev@gmSLACKWAREail.com minus distro> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:07AM (#19159189)
      I think the poster is way off. When you work in finance, you get fingerprinted because of SEC requirements (when they investigate insider trading or other wrongdoing, they often fingerprint the documents used so you can't say someone forged your signature). She probably falls under the class of employee requiring this because she has access to some sort of non-public information or real time market data not generally available to the public. I don't see anything to get heated over here. This is standard practice in finance.
      • Re:Ummmm.... No. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by xtracto (837672) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:40AM (#19159525) Journal
        Sorry pal, I was about to mod you Insightful (two spare mod points :) but I have seen a lot of comments against fingerprinting and I thought I would better write my comment to "defend" it.

        The first poster (Anonymous Coward) stated it very well, she is working in a Financial Institution. I think the security on those is similar if not better (or worst? depending on POV) than the goverment agencies (CIA, FBI, DOD, ETC) because the information being played with there is *very* sensitive.

        Also, I do not know what is so fucking outrageous about finger prints, my father has a ranch, and when I was younger we went every saturday to pay the pawns theyr week salary, and my dad kept a book for the payments (ala spreadsheet). Some of the pawns didn't know how to read/write, hence my father used their fingerprint as a signature to acknowledge payment. That is a common practice to autenticate people in poor countries. And it is way better thana lousy signature.

        Again agreeing with the AC, I think that, if she does not want to be deeply screened then Finance is not an industry where she should get a job. She might preffer going to Google, Amazon or any standard software shop...
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by drix (4602)
          Pawns? Was your dad a 19th century absentee landlord? Yeesh. No sé si de verdad les llamaras peones, pero .. joder.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BrewedInTexas (971325)
        I work for a company doing that's writing all of *State's Name Withheld( It's not the one my ID would indicate)* Dept. of Revenue software.


        This would seem to be fairly sensitive information.
        ( I have tax records, account numbers and the ability to transfer funds for multi-million dollar companies sitting on my desk. )

        I would completely understand if the finger printing was a requirement but, alas, it was not.
      • Exactly (Score:5, Informative)

        by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:45AM (#19160661)
        You are correct. It is an SEC requirement.

        When I was working in Chicago, I was fingerprinted by each of the three exchanges where we had computer equipment, booths, and traders working in the pits. This was in order to get a clerk's badge, to facilitate quick access to the floors and interstitial spaces should equipment issues arise. It wasn't the firm that did the fingerprinting in my case (it was a privately held fund--no customers, in other words), but SEC requirements meant that my fingerprints would be on file, and all of my banking and private investment details disclosed to ensure I wasn't engaged in insider trading or what have you.

        Many of the SEC requirements are big-brotherish and Orwellian (e.g. keeping logs of all electronic chats, keeping two archives of all incoming and outgoing emails going back years, etc.), but the blame needs to be placed where it belongs: on the SEC, and the crooks that have made such a hash of the markets at times that such draconian measures are thought to be unavoidable if the financial integrity and viability of the markets is to be protected.
      • by iCharles (242580)
        Definitely standard in finance. My father was a stock broker, and had to provide fingerprints for every state he was licensed in. If a client moved to a new state but wanted to keep him as their broker (and why not--he was quite good), he would have to go to the police station to get fingerprinted, and those would be sent along to the licensing board in question.

        Simply put, there are jobs that, for various reasons, have requirements above and beyond working at a Quick-E-Mart. Drug tests, background checks (
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by danbert8 (1024253)
      I got finger printed working for my local church. It's not that unreasonable to check your background. You wouldn't want to be programming with a muderer, or someone that throws chairs would you?
    • Re:Ummmm.... No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by twistedsymphony (956982) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:14AM (#19159267) Homepage
      Finger printing is the limit for me... I've turned down two jobs in the past that required I be finger printed. Both companies seemed appalled that I would turn them down for something so "petty". One of them seemed to understand when I explained that I felt the measure was a severe violation of my personal privacy and decided to wave the need for the finger printing. I this was a smaller company though, I would suspect any company of reasonable size with those kinds of policies in place wouldn't have the flexibility to bend the rules like that.
      • Re:Ummmm.... No. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by shabble (90296) <qkjj13x02@sneakemail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:07AM (#19159925)

        Both companies seemed appalled that I would turn them down for something so "petty".
        I hope you pointed out that since they think it's so petty, then why should they enforce it on you/anyone?
      • I think that was Spider Man. Anyways if you are in a position of power, you need to be held accountable. Fingerprinting is not intended to be a pre-accusation of future crime but rather a method to hold you accountable for your actions.

        Both 'real' jobs that I've had (ie, since college) have required fingerprinting. (One for a secret security clearance, the other to work at NASA on sensitive-but-unclassified projects). I have no fear because I am an ethical individual and my prints will never cross their pat
    • by rts008 (812749) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:44AM (#19159579) Journal
      Besides, having seen some of the keyboards I've been exposed to in different jobs....how do they get through all of that crap to get fingerprints?

      Forensic lab tech1: 'We've got the results analysed...
      Forensic lab tech2 '...and it's definately Mountain Dew, Cum Stains, Red Bull, and...
      Forensic lab tech1: ...no shit, cheezy poof powder! Oh! Fingerprints?...Uhmmm...
      Forensic lab tech2: ....it could be anywhere from one demented asshole, to three million high-turnover, disgruntled employees!?!
      Forensic lab tech1: 'Basically, we need more data to pin this down...'
      Forensic lab tech2: 'Ah, yeah...Hmmm?...which server had that pr0n directory on it?
      Forensic lab tech1: 'Sounds like a plan...you grab the Mountain Dew, and I'll grab the cheezy poofs!
  • Bipolar in Seattle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Foofoobar (318279) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:52AM (#19159041)
    I've drawn my line at looking at my financial and even my health records; some people feel these help tell whether you are 'stable' but some of the most creative types in the world are financially incompetent. I myself am bipolar so neither of these records should be a reflection of what kind of person I am as far as I'm concerned especially now that I have found a decent medication and stayed on it continuously for over a year.

    I understand that employers feel they need to protect themselves but they shouldn't be so paranoid as to limit their employee pool to only the financially stable, mentally stable and law abiding. They'll never get someone who thinks outside of the box then.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by finkployd (12902)
      I understand that employers feel they need to protect themselves but they shouldn't be so paranoid as to limit their employee pool to only the financially stable, mentally stable and law abiding.

      It really depends on the job though, doesn't it? I agree if you are hiring someone for a creative position (like programming) it is probably best to accept that the good people might not be perfectly "normal" (in a general society sense).

      However, if you are hiring a teacher, or day care worker, or nurse, or anyone w
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Foofoobar (318279)
        Define mentally stable? George Bush apparently fits that bill as does Jerry Falwell [livejournal.com]. Technically, those who have taken the time to SEE a psychological professional are those who care enough about their mental well being. Should they be punished by societys stigmatization of this? Just because you refuse to see a mental health care professional or have never seen one, does this necessarily mean that you are stable? No, it just means that you have never seen one. But that is not the conclusion that will be dr
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JDevers (83155)
      Employers look at your financial stability for TWO reasons, one is what you list, it basically shows their fiscal responsibility and can be very related or not related at all to the position (personally, I wouldn't want to hire a corporate tax accountant that can't keep himself out of debt...web design specialist, not too worried about it). The second reason though is important for an entirely different reason, it also shows at least a little bit of how motivated someone will be to steal from you. I would
      • by Foofoobar (318279)

        personally, I wouldn't want to hire a corporate tax accountant that can't keep himself out of debt...web design specialist, not too worried about it
        Well since this is slashdot, I think we can limit the number of corporate tax accountant that will be reading this question to a relatively small number and safely assume this applies to technical professionals. To which, as you stated, this doesn't really apply. Hence my, and the authors original concern.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by teflaime (738532)
        hire a policeman guilty of battery in the past.
        I've never seen this be a disqualifier for getting hired as a police officer. Murder, yes. Beating people up? No.
        Note: I'm not talking about whether it should be a disqualifier or not, but rather if it is currently used that way. As to my background, I was an EMT for several years in a lot of different mid-sized cities. So I was around cops a lot. And there were always a few who had a past history of fighting. Hell, in Rapid City, I knew a cop who was a for
    • by MooseTick (895855)
      "I understand that employers feel they need to protect themselves but they shouldn't be so paranoid as to limit their employee pool to only the financially stable, mentally stable and law abiding."

      Companies should hire more people who can't handle basic finance, are mentally unstable, and known to break laws. I'd definately like to work at a place like that!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Foofoobar (318279)
        It's called politics. Try running for office some time. Of course, it helps if you already happen to be privileged to begin with.
    • by dheltzel (558802)
      They'll never get someone who thinks outside of the box then.

      Your error is believing that they want someone who can think "outside the box". That is not always a desired trait for management. In fact, I find very few job postings where there is an indicator that they want that, and when they say it, watch out, they may not mean it.

    • by westlake (615356)
      I understand that employers feel they need to protect themselves but they shouldn't be so paranoid as to limit their employee pool to only the financially stable, mentally stable and law abiding. They'll never get someone who thinks outside of the box then.

      I've worked in a controlled environment with people who have significant behavioral problems, are under severe financial strain, have known criminal records, etc. But it is not an experience I would recommend for the unprepared or understaffed. There wi

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      I've drawn my line at looking at my financial and even my health records;

      no you haven't. Most employers right now pull a credit report on you before they interview. you can not stop that from happening. I personally think it is wrong, but companies have evolved to the point that they treat all employees and potential employees like slaves and feel justified to not even interview you because you were 4 days late paying your electric bill last month.

      I am not joking, Management position applications at the l
  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:53AM (#19159053)
    You make it sound menial. Whether the position with development or support, she'll have access to a lot of sensitive data that if misused could do serious damage. So, no I think the firm is doing its DD.
    • by mjpaci (33725)
      I work for a large financial services firm and I was finger printed as part of the background check. My prints were sent off to the FBI where they were run against their DB. I didn't have to worry about them keeping them as they are already in the FBI DB for stupid shit I did when I was younger. This was for a desktop support job...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:53AM (#19159057)
    for a job interview, well, I think it was a job interview, I mean the guy in the alley gave me $50 to watch. That makes it a job interview, right? He wanted to know if I could make smalltalk with a lisp then hack my python till it spewed Java. that sounds like a tech job doesn't it?
  • Sometimes,yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityGuy (217807) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:55AM (#19159069)
    Depending on the sensitivity of the position, you *will* have to do things like this. If you're a programmer in a financial services firm, you might be in a position to backdoor systems for financial gain. I can see why they'd want to make sure you're not a known criminal.

  • by packetmon (977047) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:57AM (#19159083) Homepage
    SEC Requires it [sec.gov] for financial firms. I had to go through this when I did contract work for IBM because they were contracted to do work for a bank. If she has nothing to hide, what's the big deal. I have a record and I fully disclosed it in my application prior to even taking the fingerprints. I still got the contract work although I may be a rare exception. This is a funny stance employers will have to look at in the near (and I mean near future). Here in the US, 1 in every about 50 or so citizens has been either incarcerated or has a record. In 2001 it was 1 in every 87. What will US firms do when this number comes down to 1 in 10. Outsource America entirely...
    • retraction... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by packetmon (977047)
      Seven million Americans - one in every 32 adults - were behind bars, on probation or on parole at the end of 2005, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday. Source [iht.com]

      I seriously wonder what these companies will do when just about everyone of legal voting age has had some kind of a run in with the law. Interestingly, in Sweden and some other Euro countries (states whatever
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jimicus (737525)
        Does the USA have no equivalent of the UK Rehabilitation of Offenders Act?

        I'm a bit hazy on the details, but I think it's something along the lines of "after a certain amount of time post-punishment, you're not obliged to reveal a criminal past to an employer, even if they ask". There are other details - it doesn't apply for some types of job, such as national security, and the length of time may vary depending on the crime/punishment. Some crimes you have to reveal for life.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Shadow99_1 (86250)
          Simple Answer: No.

          Long Answer: We seem to like our 'criminals' to suffer for life for their crimes... A Pardon can however fix that, but only Governors and the pres can do those, so those don't happen all that often...

          After all you can't leave little Sally with a convicted drug dealer (from 20 years ago) at a day care... Think of the children!
    • by rueger (210566)
      If she has nothing to hide, what's the big deal. OK! I am so totally reassured now!
  • Full Cavity Search
  • I've got a family member who is a Human Resources manager, and, while I've never heard of the whole finger printing thing, background checks with law enforcement are SOP.

    I can even understand pulling your credit report as part of the process, someone who is bad with money is probably more likely to steal shit from their employer.

    But I don't see what finger printing does that searching their social security number can't do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rob the Bold (788862)

      I can even understand pulling your credit report as part of the process, someone who is bad with money is probably more likely to steal shit from their employer.

      "Lisa, a guy who's got lots of ivory is _less_ likely to hurt Stampy than a guy whose ivory supplies are low."

    • by mjpaci (33725)
      People can get a new SSN. People really can't change their fingerprints.

      Example:

      John Smith commits aggrevated assault with a deadly weapon (a rabid badger in this case) and leaves a whole mess of fingerprints behind and does time. They are now "in the system" and associated with him and his SSN. He now has a new alias "Jim Jones" and he applies for a job at a local financial services company with a new SSN. How is the SSN search going to find him to be a convicted felon?

      --Mike
  • It depends... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Randomish (1042542) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:00AM (#19159119)
    I think the WHY behind the need for fingerprints should raise flags, depending on the answer. I worked for a large financial company ten years ago that began fingerprinting all of us after a rash of petty thefts. If a company has had a bad experience with rogue employees, at least it would be understandable. If they dust for fingerprints to determine who didn't refill the coffe jug after taking the last cup, then that's going too far.
  • I worked for a financial services firm years ago and I too was fingerprinted. Granted, I was assisting several brokers but nonetheless, I was required to be fingerprinted. Three times. If memory serves, one copy went to the FBI, once copy went to the SEC and one copy to the firm I worked for.

    If anything, being a programmer for a financial firm is just as sensitive a position as actually having access to client accounts. Programmers have access to all kinds of information that others do not.

    Considering w
  • by Skapare (16644) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:04AM (#19159161) Homepage

    Getting fingerprinted is typical in the banking industry. Some banks just require this of all employees while others only require it of people who touch money or deal with the financial numbers. If a programmer would be anywhere near the software involved in manipulating the numbers in accounts, they are "touching the money" enough to be fingerprinted.

    If you don't want to be fingerprinted, don't apply for a job in banking, or in a few other areas like law enforcement, government intelligence related jobs, education below the college level, etc.

  • by IPFreely (47576) <mark@mwiley.org> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:05AM (#19159167) Homepage Journal
    I went through this many years ago.

    Essentially, it's about the business not the job. Financial companies have access to a lot of inside information, a lot of personal information and a lot of money. As a result, they also have a lot of safety and security regulations. And if they are not stupid, they have their own company policies concerning security above and beyond any regulation.

    Anyone working for such a company gets screened, basically for any indications of financial burden or potential blackmail (so they know someone else can't blackmail you into doing something illegal against them.) They look for general signs that you might be a risk for illegal behavior.

    These policies cover everyone in the company, even if you are just programming something not related to someone elses money.

  • How far? (Score:5, Funny)

    by rlp (11898) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:14AM (#19159259)
    I'd be concerned when they ask "Do you think you're special, Mr. Anderson?"
  • A few years ago the US started fingerprinting pretty well everyone arriving from overseas. Initially it was the people arriving on work visas, then it extended to all tourist visas. I initially got it when on my L-1 visa, and had just index fingers done. Then as part of my green card application I had all 10 fingers done. And that is nothing compared to all the other checks that I have been through.

    You citizens have it so easy .. you are just born here. I have had to prove that I deserve to be here (an
    • by beavis88 (25983)
      You citizens have it so easy .. you are just born here. I have had to prove that I deserve to be here (and so far they think I can stay)

      Waaah...you were born somewhere too, I'm sure. Something tells me Americans wouldn't have the easiest time packing up and reporting for work, wherever that is...
  • joking. not as far as that of course.
  • Travesty (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:26AM (#19159395)
    I'm not flag-waving here or anything, but the UK's law is fortunately a lot more biased towards the applicant when it comes to discrimination.


    Proactive anti-discrimination law only covers six key areas of discrimination (sex, race, age, disability etc), but these laws demand that firms take positive action to prevent the possibility of such discrimination, whether it be deliberate, incidental, cultural, systemic, institutionalised etc. As such the firm must be able to prove that they took every step to prevent discrimination if it ever comes up in court, or they are liable.

    However, having such proactive laws in these specific areas is not enough, as discrimination can be exercised in a number of other areas and in subtle ways. Therefore the law makes clear what areas are acceptable for discrimination (in the literal sense) between applicants/candidates for a job. It pretty much boils down to merit: candidates must be selected on the grounds of their ability to do the job, whether that be qualifications, experience, testing or whatever. If an applicant feels that there may have been a discriminatory decision made on any other grounds, the firm has to be able to defend their decisions in court/tribunal/whatever by providing evidence that their decisions were reasonable.

    There are legal exceptions to this, but they are quite specific and usually down to health & safety or security, or sometimes public reputation in certain high-level positions. In truth, the practices become more discriminatory the higher-up you go, where laws seem to be more flexible (the very epitome of "privilege"), but for 99% of the population there is no way such "checking" as fingerprinting, financial records, blood samples or anything else would ever be used, nor even contemplated, in case somebody decided to question the practices in court.

    One final point on that note, though. A friend of mine applied to work for the Civil Service (powerful, unelected working body of Central Government). She got through all the main tests and interviews, and her final interview was quite invasive. One thing she was asked, which always stuck in my mind, was something along the lines of "Do you feel that you participate in any activities which might leave you open to blackmail to any degree?". I think sexual practices and drug-taking were mentioned as possibilities. I've never heard of anyone being asked that kind of question in an interview before. I can say from experience that she's a massive sexual deviant, and none of her friends or family know, but she felt that she was okay-enough with them finding out to answer "No".
    She got the job, anyway.

    Disclaimer: I work for local government, where they tend to be more careful about obeying the law and not getting sued...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by VJ42 (860241) *

      but for 99% of the population there is no way such "checking" as fingerprinting, financial records, blood samples or anything else would ever be used, nor even contemplated, in case somebody decided to question the practices in court.

      Whilst this is mostly true, try getting a job in which you might come into contact with children or vunerable adults without submitting to a CRB check. You can't, to be blunt, the law requires that you have one. I know, I've had two within a few years of each other, and all they were for was working 1) in a library (admittedly primeraly as a children's library assistant) 2) in a college "Learning centre"; as they had some under 16s enrolled at the college, again an enhanced CRB check was needed.

      Most peop

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tygerstripes (832644)
        Ah, CRBs! The things I could tell you about CRBs... I used to deal with them all the time in HR, and the CRB Bureau is atrocious. Dyslexia and chronic stupidity must have been a condition of employment in their data-entry positions.
        That being said, the CRB disclosures are about safety - specifically child-safety - which I believe is fair enough in principle. They really only check criminal convictions and police records of repeated allegations etc in the districts of which you've been a resident, and I thi
  • by oliverthered (187439) <olivertheredNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:26AM (#19159397) Journal
    As someone who has had mental problems leading to debit (and loosing my job) and taking vast quantities of drugs to cope I guess I wouldn't be able to get a job.

    Even though I've been put on medication that works really well (after a lot of trial and error) and I've been doing very well in my current position (I got a job in the UK) for over a year.

    Those tests are intrusive and don't prove anything, I'd have the option of taking them and not getting a job or refusing and still not getting the job so I think it's better to refuse and let the company know what you think of their tests.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      let the company know what you think of their tests.

      Based on the rest of your post, you have probably reinforced the idea that those tests are the greatest thing since sliced bread. A bipolar who goes on spending binges and gulps drugs like water? Yeah, that's someone I'd take a gander on for a financial programming job.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by oliverthered (187439)
        If I added that I got the highest appraisal score in the company last year would that help to change your ill-founded opinion of A bipolars who goe on spending binges and gulp drugs like water?
  • Trying to find a good hire is hard. There are a lot of applicants to sort through. How can you tell who's gonna work out who's not gonna fit in? Because there is no really effective way to determine the best person for the job, HR comes up with "surrogate" tests for what they'd really like to know. You can't expect an accurate answer if you ask "Are you honest and ethical at all times?". Who's gonna say no to that? So, you do a criminal background check (all the dishonest people must have already been caugh
  • Obviously you've never seen Superman 3 of Office Space. Anyone who works at a financial institution has to be fingerprinted no matter what the position. This ensures they aren't hiring a known criminal and makes it easier to track them down if they do end up embezzling or stealing. This should go DOUBLE for computer programmers who can write code to slide money into a secret account...
    My wife had to get fingerprinted to work at a non-financial institution that was owned by a bank. One day another girl was o
  • by Spazmania (174582) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:58AM (#19159767) Homepage
    Fingerprinting is very common for applicants for a job involving the public trust. For example, try getting a job for the Federal government without first getting fingerprinted. Its so common, in fact, that many jurisdictions have a specific police station designated as the place to go to get your fingerprints done.

  • I met a person who worked in a (legal) drug processing plant that turned opium gum into morphine. It is/was the only plant of its kind in the USA. Not only was everyone who worked in the plant fingerprinted and background checked and credit checked, but their bank accounts were monitored for transaction activity. And their family was also investigated. He had turned down bribes from people who wanted him to divert just a tiny amount of the finished product out the door to their waiting van.

    I was chatting him up in a lab, as a couple of DEA agents watched every move I made. I was handling not just milligrams, but KILOGRAMS of morphine and raw opium gum, filling sample containers and feeding them into the analyser they were thinking of buying. Every paper towel I wiped a spatula with went into their special trash bag, and they even brought pocket-less lab coats to keep me from stealing sample! They even flinched if I used a tissue - clearly they thought I was going to snort some.

    BTW: opium gum looks like road tar and gives you a headache from the fumes (not high, just a hang-over kind of throbbing) ... and every time I left the building to get some fresh air they checked my jeans pockets. I would breathe a while, wave cheerfully to the SWAT teams guarding the building, and go back inside. Street value of what that armed caravan brought to our offices to use as test samples was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:43AM (#19161749) Journal
    As has been said, there are jobs that require background checks.

    Worry more about what the employment contract says. Some of them are feudal slavery. If the employer is going to own everything that you code at any time of the day or night, whether at the office or at home, you won't be doing any open-source contributing and any personal projects that you create might not be yours without a fight involving lawyers.

    You should be aware of what you are signing away when you accept a job.
  • by yroJJory (559141) <[me] [at] [jory.org]> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @12:01PM (#19163347) Homepage
    I went to sign up with a temp agency several years ago and they asked me to sign a release stating that I would submit to a drug test. I flat out refused (politely) because I don't use drugs and never have. If my word (and behavior) wasn't good enough, I don't need to work for them. I place my civil liberties as a much higher importance than working 3 days for some company I've never heard of. And unless they want me operating heavy machinery, there is no need for drug testing for brainless data entry.

    The woman at the temp agency was floored. And the guy sitting across from me, who had just signed the form, was also stunned. It was as if they'd never seen anyone stand up for their civil rights before.

    Needless to say, I never got any calls from this agency. And I was never disappointed about it. Another temp agency called me repeatedly, though. (They didn't require any ridiculous civil rights violations.)

  • Don't Panic... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PatSand (642139) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @12:10PM (#19163551) Journal

    First off, a bank deals with sensitive information (like your account information, transactions, etc.). They have a legal responsibility to verify as reasonably as possible that a person they want to hire doesn't have a criminal record that would impact the bank adversely if they hired them. Normally, that means any fraud, check-kiting, embezzlement, ...financial stuff. Of course, some places are very conservative and want to see if there is a criminal record (beyond old speeding/traffic tickets).

    I have seen places do fingerprinting (some in-house, some through the local police nearby), background checks (ranging from very limited to-for clearances-all out), drug tests (use the cup). I used to work in government security and they were really concerned about blackmail, bankruptcy, debts, gambling, infidelity/homosexuality, etc.--they didn't want employees to be blackmailed into doing nasty things.

    I've recently done some work for a big multinational bank and had to do the fingerprinting (they did it in-house), and take the drug test (outsourced to a lab). I kidded with the person lining up the work that "I'm glad I studied hard for the drug test" (;-).

    Typically, access to sensitive information requires more than a simple check of references. But if you are doing straight programming for a dot.com and they want to do stuff that doesn't make sense, don't bother applying.

    In this case, the banks have a standard of background/fingerprint checks and drug testing as per Federal Law (US). It also limits their liability a bit if it turns out the employee does something bad. And with the Patriot Act and other laws recently enacted, banks have to screen employees a bit more thoroughly than McDonald's...

    Think of it this way: what kind of person do you want handling your accounts? For other lines of work, you can ask a similar question.

    I shudder to think about pilots, bus drivers, train operators, etc. operating equipment that I ride in without having drug testing. I'll exclude NYC cabbies because you first have to be crazy to drive in NYC, and you probably need strong medication (licit or otherwise) to do it.

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