What Is Verbal Verification of Employment

Published: June 20, 2023 by Cassie McGee

There are different situations that require confirmation of applicants’ past or current job status. Employers often need to conduct verification for job candidates or reply to requests from other employers, lenders, landlords or the federal government.

Verbal verification of employment is a process of confirming the accuracy of information by requesting confirmation from a source through a spoken conversation. This type of verification is often used in situations where written confirmation is not possible or practical. However, while verbal verification can be a useful tool under certain circumstances, employers should also be aware of its downsides.

Written and Verbal Verification of Employment

When current or previous employees apply for a loan, employers may be required to provide written verification of employment and confirm employment dates, status, title, and salary history. This type of verification is usually performed if applicants have variable income or have recently experienced a change to their income as compared to the annual income documented on their most recent Form W-2.

Written employment verification typically includes a signed release from the employee or job applicant allowing the employer to share this information with a third party. Unlike verbal verification of employment, written verification provides a documented record of the information provided, which can be used to confirm the accuracy of the information later if needed.

Depending on income type as well as the information collected during the initial stages of employment verification, there may be additional requirements that applicants must meet before the final approval of a loan. Therefore, in addition to a written verification, employers can expect to receive a request for verbal verification of employment.

Verbal verification of employment is done with current employers just before the loan is funded to ensure employment status has not changed. It is generally completed as late as possible in the loan origination process. Lenders are usually required to contact employers no more than 10 days before closing to confirm continuing employment, but some lenders may perform verbal verification of employment after the loan closing.

Verbal Verification of Employment for Self-Employed Applicants

Verbal verification of employment may also be performed for self-employed applicants. In addition to checking their income with tax returns and current financials like balance sheets and income statements, lenders need to verify the company’s continued existence with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), licensing authority, or other third parties. CPAs are usually required to confirm that an applicant is self-employed, verify their income and indicate how likely it is that their business will continue by providing information about business profits, any rental properties or other investment income.

Common Issues with Verbal Verification of Employment

Verbal verification of employment is generally quick and straightforward, but there are different issues that can cause delays in the process or disqualify applicants from receiving the loan. In addition to this, it is not recommended that employers rely on verbal verification of employment for several reasons, including:

Releasing Information without Collecting Documentation

One of the primary risks of verbal verification of employment is releasing information without collecting documentation. This may increase the likelihood of errors or inaccuracies because the person answering the phone may not have all the necessary information or may fail to provide key details.

If misinformation is released through verbal verification of employment, employers can be exposed to liability. In addition to this, inaccurate information could result in damage to an employee’s reputation, lost job opportunities or other negative consequences.

Not Vetting the Requesting Party

When an employer receives an employment verification request, they need to verify that the requesting party is authorized to receive the information. This can be difficult over the phone as it is challenging to verify the identity of the caller or check that they are who they claim to be.

On the other hand, if employers fail to properly vet the requesting party, they run the risk of releasing sensitive employee information to unauthorized individuals. This can include personal information such as the employee’s name, address, Social Security number and other details that could be used for identity theft or other fraudulent purposes. This way, verbal verification of employment can also damage the employer’s reputation as well as the trust between them and their employees.

No Audit Trail

Verbal verification of employment involves providing information over the phone or through other verbal means, without any written record of the exchange. This can create different difficulties for employers who need to keep accurate records of all employment verification requests and their responses.

Without an audit trail, employers cannot defend themselves in the event of a dispute or lawsuit related to employment verification. Furthermore, it can be challenging to track the volume and frequency of employment verification requests, making it difficult for employers to manage their workload effectively. This can lead to delays or errors and negatively impact all parties involved. Finally, the lack of an audit trail can result in non-compliance with regulations such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which requires employers to maintain accurate records of employment verification requests and their responses.

Liability for Releasing Misinformation

Another risk related to verbal verification of employment is the potential for liability for releasing misinformation that can have adverse actions on current or former employees. Furthermore, if employees do face unfavorable consequences due to inaccurate employment information, such as a denial of employment or termination, employers are the ones who may be liable for damages.

No Consistency

Verbal verification of employment also leads to a lack of consistency when multiple people handle the task of answering verification requests. For example, if different employees within an organization are responsible for verifying employment information, they may provide different answers to the same request. This can create confusion for the requesting party and damage the credibility of the employer.

Time-Consuming and Complex Processes

Finally, it can be time-consuming for HR staff to conduct verbal verification of employment and locate the necessary information to provide to the requesting party. Depending on the information being requested, they may need to log into different systems or coordinate with other departments within the organization.

This may also be a disruptive process as it can take HR staff away from other pressing tasks and responsibilities, which is particularly challenging for smaller companies or organizations with limited resources.

Moreover, when conducting verbal verification of employment, there is always a risk that too much information will be disclosed, including an employee’s location, working hours or other sensitive data. This can lead to a violation of privacy laws, exposing employers to legal liability.

Effective Employment Verification Process

Employment verification is a critical step in a number of situations that may affect both employers and employees. Employers may receive verbal verification of employment requests on current or former employees from government agencies, mortgage lenders, prospective employers and others. They usually seek to verify employment dates, wages, the likelihood of continued employment, eligibility for rehiring or reason for termination. Taking into consideration how important these requests are for employees, employers should complete them with truthful responses and in a timely manner.

When it comes to deciding which employment verification type is the most effective one, it is important to note that outsourcing to a third-party provider is the safest way to ensure that employment information is released to a credible and trustworthy party. Third-party verification services typically have strict vetting procedures to make sure that only authorized parties are requesting information. They also provide an audit trail of the verification process to ensure accuracy and compliance. At the same time, when an employer outsources employment verification, they are no longer responsible for verifying the accuracy of the information provided, thus reducing their exposure to risk and potential liability.

Another benefit of outsourced verification is that it saves time and resources, so employers can free up their HR staff to focus on other value-added activities that can help to grow the organization. Also, third-party verification providers have standardized processes and procedures in place to ensure that each verification is handled in the same way, reducing the risk of errors. Finally, outsourcing employment verification ensures compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including the FCRA. As a result, employers reduce the risk of any legal issues and potential liability.

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