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Employment Background Reports

The Fair Credit Reporting Act applies to most background reports run for employment purposes.  The law covers several aspects of the employment relationship, including the application for employment, the authorization to run the background check, the background check itself, and the ways in which an employer uses a background check.

First, Section 1681e(b) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that a background reporting company "follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy."  While this legal standard does not guarantee 100% accuracy in a background report, it does require background reporting companies to try to report accurate information in background reports.  When a background reporting company reports a criminal record that does not belong to you (for example, you have a common name and the background reporting company reports a conviction for someone else with your same name), or it classifies a crime as worse than it actually was (for example, it reports a misdemeanor conviction as a felony conviction), or it reports other inaccurate information, then it may have violated your Fair Credit Reporting Act rights.

Second, the Fair Credit Reporting Act contains certain requirements for the "user" (i.e., the employer) of the background report.  The law requires that an employer must:

1.  Obtain your written authorization to access your background (or consumer) report; and

2.  Provide you with a disclosure that it may use the background report for employment purposes.  

Both of these requirements must be satisfied BEFORE the employer obtains the background report on you.

The FCRA allows the authorization and disclosure to be combined in a single document. However, other than the authorization itself, the disclosure document cannot include any additional information (e.g., releases of liability, indemnity clauses, waivers, etc).

Once an employer has your authorization, it can obtain your background report from a consumer reporting agency.  Frequently, employment consumer reports contain incorrect information that can have devastating consequences for a person's employment.  For this reason, BEFORE an employer takes an "adverse employment action" against you based on information in a background (or consumer) report, such as rescinding a job offer or terminating your employment, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the employer provide you with a Pre-Adverse Action Notice.

What The Pre-Adverse Action Notice Must Contain

The Pre-Adverse Action Notice must contain:

1.  a copy of the background report; and

2.  a Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Purpose of a Pre-Adverse Action Notice

The purpose of the Pre-Adverse Action Notice is to allow you time to verify the information in your report, and, if necessary, dispute the information with the background report company or clarify any misunderstandings the report may have created for your employer.  An employer must provide you with this Pre-Adverse Action Notice even if all of the information in the background report is correct. 

FCRA Violations Based on a Pre-Adverse Action Notice

If an employer rescinded a job offer, fired you or refused to hire you because of information in a background report and did not provide you with a copy of the report or a Summary of Your Rights BEFORE making its final decision - even if the information in the background report was correct - the employer violated your rights.  Because you were never given a chance to review the report, you have no idea what information is in it.  For all you know, it could accuse you of being Jack the Ripper, and you lost a job based on inaccurate information that could have been easily corrected.

If you believe your rights may have been violated, or you just have a question about a background report, please contact the background report lawyers at Weiner & Sand LLC to discuss your rights. 

Some of the most largest employment screening companies are listed below, along with their telephone numbers and addresses. Click on the employment screening company's name to learn more information about its dispute process and background report capabilities.

Phone: 800-216-8024

Address: 7515 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618

Phone: 800-200-0853

Address: 110 Sixteenth Street, 8th Floor, Denver, CO 80202

Phone: 866-265-6602

Address: P.O. Box 353 (attention consumer relations), Chapin, SC 29036 

Phone: Not available

Address: One Montgomery Street, Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94108

Phone: 800-845-6004

Address: P.O. Box 105292 (attention Consumer Center), Atlanta, GA 30348

Phone: 866-265-4917 (Option 1)

Address: P.O. Box 353 (attention Consumer Relations Department), Chapin, SC 29036

Phone: 866-521-6995 (Option 1)

Address: 14002 E. 21st St., Suite 1200, Tulsa, OK 74134

Phone: 877-360-4636

Address: 9250 E. Costilla Ave, Suite 525, Greenwood Village, CO 80112

Phone: 866-202-1436

Address: 3000 Auburn Drive, Suite 410, Beachwood, OH 44122

Phone: 800-300-1821

Address: P.O. Box 491570, Redding, CA 96049

Phone: 888-889-5248 (Option 3)

Address: 1 State Street Plaza, New York, NY  10004

Phone: 918-779-7000

Address: 7131 Riverside Parkway, Tulsa, OK 74136

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Even if you are not sure of the law and whether your employer violated your rights, we would be pleased to discuss your concerns with you.