Employment verification services logistics

There are companies like The Work Number, which give a phone number and pin to employees to use to give out to prospective employers to verify their employment history with a specific company. Companies do this so HR doesn’t have to handle this inquiries directly.

At one point during the application process for a new job do people give the prospective employer the pin number to access this information?

Or do you list this information on the job application form as the phone number and extension (pin) for the previous employer?

Or does giving authorization for your background allow them access to a service like The Work Number without obtaining the pin?

I’m asking because a friend of mine worked for a company that uses The Work Number, but said he has gotten several jobs since he left, they completed background checks and never asked for his pin number at The Work Number. He believes they must have contacted his former employer who referred them to The Work Number, because it is his former employer’s policy in HR not to give out that information. But it makes me wonder if The Work Number was even used or if prospective employers have access to it another way other than the employee’s pin.

Seems rather pointless for a company to pay money for this service.

If the purpose for the former employer was to prevent their HR department spending too much time answering calls about references, it doesn’t accomplish much to have them answering calls to refer people to this paid service.

Might possibly be worthwhile if the purpose is to make sure your HR never says anything about former employees, to guard against lawsuits. (Though it might be more effective to consider why so many of your employees are leaving.)