Criminal Background Checks

As a University of Wisconsin-Extension Master Gardener Volunteer you are engaged in your community in many different ways, work alongside a variety of different people, and often do it in unsupervised situations.  As a UW-Extension MGV you are also a representative of the UW-System. In accordance with Regent Policy Document 20-19 all staff and volunteers working in a “position of trust”, like Master Gardener Volunteers, are required to complete a criminal background check.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does everyone have to do this?

A: Yes, everyone will have to do this. Initially we were focusing on those who trained prior to 2014, and especially those who have never had a CBC done (they started in 2008). However, in June, 2017, UW Colleges and UW-Extension Human Resources indicated all volunteers must complete a CBC via GIS. There are no exemptions for age or who you might work with — everyone has to do this.

Q: I just had the background check done in 2016. Why do I have to do it again?

A. The procedure used prior to 2017 was not in compliance with Regent Policy #20-19, so unfortunately it has to be redone.

Q: I had a background check done recently by my employer/municipality/non-profit/other organization, so can’t you just accept that?

A: The CBC must be conducted by UW-Extension Human Resources. They do the CBCs for 4-H and UW-Extension employees, so if you had it done for one of those please let us know and we will ask HR for your record number so you won’t have to do it again.

Q: My link expired before I got to use it – will I be kicked out of the MG Program?

A: Don’t panic, you will have another chance, as the message will be sent again if you missed it for whatever reason.

Q: I tried to provide the information requested, but am not sure it went through or had other problems with my computer.

A: GIS indicates that their system works best in Internet Explorer and Chrome, so if you used a different browser you may wish to try one of these instead. For more specific questions, you can reply to the email you received from Angela Schultz explaining the process and she may be able to help resolve your problem or confirm that everything went through.

Q: Why do I have to provide my Social Security Number (SSN), can’t they take my driver’s license or passport number instead?

A: The SSN is required for a SSN Trace to authenticate the individual’s information and generates a list of addresses the applicant has lived at for the last seven years; as part of the trace, GIS and UW-Extension may verify that the SSN is valid and appropriately assigned to the applicant. UW-Extension staff does not collect social security numbers for background checks, and by asking each volunteer to enter their individual information directly into GIS’s secure website, we reduce the flow of your private information, which lessens the risk of exposure and offers the best protection available.

Q: I have been told repeatedly to never to give out personally identifiable or sensitive information when the request for this information comes via email. I don’t want to risk identity theft. Why should I do this now?

A: You should not give out any personal information via an unsolicited email.

  • The email from GIS is anticipated and requested by UW-Extension.
  • You are right to be concerned about protecting your information.
  • We do understand your concerns; this is why each individual email is tailored to a specific recipient and includes first name, last name and email address.
  • Your name and email address were entered into GIS’s system by Angela Schultz using her secure, private GIS-authorized account.

Q: Are you sure this GIS website is safe and secure? How do you know?

A: The GIS website is as secure as technologically possible. Additional information from GIS regarding their privacy protection practices is available here: http://www.geninfo.com/privacy.asp. UW-Extension Central IT Services management agrees that the GIS site is safe to use.

Q: I will not complete the criminal background check on the GIS website because I don’t think it’s safe. What can I do?

A: There is an option for a paper-based process. Please note that the information on the paper copy will be entered by staff in the GIS website. Please contact your county UW-Extension Staff for more information.

Q: I do not want to complete this CBC or provide my Social Security Number (SSN).

A: UW-Extension is required by policy of the UW Board of Regents to ensure that every employee and volunteer has passed a criminal background check. Anyone not completing the check will not be allowed to volunteer for UW-Extension. There are no exceptions.