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  • k8mhz@k8mhz.com
    ... From: Jim, K8COP To: oceanacares@yahoogroups.com ; mcaresstaff@yahoogroups.com ; MCARES@yahoogroups.com ; jeffnawrot@kcraces.net ;
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2006
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 14:14

      ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, is urging Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and other ham radio volunteers to tread cautiously when submitting information for background checks the American Red Cross (ARC) now requires. The ARC, with which the ARRL has a Statement of Understanding (SoU) <http://www.arrl. org/FandES/ field/mou/ redcro.html>, this summer notified local chapters that volunteers and staff members must submit to criminal background checks by October 31. Harrison says the requirement extends to ARES volunteers who support Red Cross disaster relief efforts. In a statement <http://www.arrl. org/FandES/ field/RC- Background- Checks0610. pdf>
      October 24, Harrison said the League recommends that anyone submitting personal information for a background check very carefully read what they are giving the ARC permission to collect.

      "The Red Cross is requiring volunteers to grant permission for more than just a criminal background check," Harrison asserted. "They are also requiring permission to draw a consumer and/or investigative consumer report on the volunteer." Harrison said that could also include credit and mode-of-living checks.

      "The Red Cross has stated that they will not use credit reports," he noted. "Requiring that volunteers authorize the procurement of a credit report is inconsistent with this assurance."

      The ARC has contracted with MyBackgroundCheck. com LLC (MBC) to handle the
      on-line background checks. Prospective volunteers visit a secure, encrypted Web site <
      http://www.mybackgr oundcheck. com/>, click on the ARC logo and submit name, address, Social Security number (or other acceptable government ID), telephone number, and date of birth. The Red Cross says the overall results of the background check are not shared with the ARC.

      In the course of applying, prospective volunteers must agree to let MBC obtain a wide range of personal information bearing not just on criminal background and creditworthiness but, MBC says, "character, general reputation [and] personal characteristics. " MBC advises, "The nature andscope of this disclosure and authorization is all-encompassing . . ."

      The Red Cross says its new policy is aimed at safeguarding clients, volunteers and employees alike. "Unfortunately, in this day and age it iscritical that the American Red Cross and other agencies, employers andorganizations perform due diligence in researching the people who will represent them," the ARC said in a statement supplied to ARRL.

      The ARC apparently has not disseminated policy specifics at the national level. The only reliable information on what the background checks will entail is that on the MBC site. Various chapter-level memoranda the ARRL has obtained contain conflicting information about the program.

      ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Dave Patton, NN1N -- whose
      department supports the ARRL Field Organization -- is among those who believes the Red Cross stands to lose a fair number of volunteers because of the requirement -- and not necessarily just ARES volunteers.

      "ARES members who are providing communications for ARC are working for ARC," Patton maintained, "and, as such, will follow their guidelines." He said the decision to go along with the new Red Cross policy is up to individual volunteers.

      The SoU between the League and the ARC is ambiguous as to whether ARES
      members become Red Cross volunteers when supporting the ARC. While the
      document says "each organization retains its own identity in providing service," it further stipulates that ARES volunteers "in such cases when the operators are required to carry American Red Cross identification" must register as American Red Cross volunteers. The SoU does not address the
      issue of background checks, however. The SoU comes up for review in 2007.

      Radio amateurs who volunteered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina last year and following 9/11 in New York City were badged through as ARC volunteers. The practice still upsets some ARES volunteers.

      Contact the Red Cross (toll-free 800-507-3960) with any questions regarding
      the background check program.

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