The Fair Credit Reporting Act applies to most background reports run for employment purposes. The FCRA regulates several aspects of the employment relationship, including the authorization to run the background check, the background check itself, and the ways in which an employer uses a background check.
Employers Must Obtain Your Authorization to Obtain a Background Report
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 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.
The Background Report Must Be Accurate
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that background reporting companies "follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy" of the information in their reports. Far too often background report companies fall short of this standard and sell inaccurate or misleading background reports to employers. Common types of inaccuracies include:
- Mixed files: reporting criminal records that do 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);
- Misclassified Criminal records, such as reporting a misdemeanor as a felony;
- Reporting sealed or expunged records;
- Duplicate records (reporting the same criminal record more than once);
- Reporting non-conviction criminal records that are older than seven years. This includes records of arrest, criminal charges, and other non-conviction criminal records.
If a background check company has reported inaccurate information about you in an employment background report, it may have violated your rights under the FCRA.
The Employer Must Provide "Pre-Adverse Action" Notice
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.
Obtain your Employment Background Report
The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to obtain your background report from a background report company. Some of the 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.
Address: 7515 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618
Address: 110 Sixteenth Street, 8th Floor, Denver, CO 80202
Address: P.O. Box 353 (attention consumer relations), Chapin, SC 29036
Phone: Not available
Address: One Montgomery Street, Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94108
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
Address: 9250 E. Costilla Ave, Suite 525, Greenwood Village, CO 80112
Address: 3000 Auburn Drive, Suite 410, Beachwood, OH 44122
Address: P.O. Box 491570, Redding, CA 96049
Phone: 888-889-5248 (Option 3)
Address: 1 State Street Plaza, New York, NY 10004
Address: 7131 Riverside Parkway, Tulsa, OK 74136