Know Your Rights

The Crime of Having a Common Name

Many of us share the same name with someone else in this country.  Many times that person is in your same city or county.  It would not be so bad if all you shared was the same name.  But what if, because of that same name, you were forced to share other things with that person - like their criminal background or their credit report? 

While potential creditors have always turned to credit reporting agencies for credit background checks of individuals, more and more potential employers are turning to criminal background checks.  Just as we have seen with credit reports mixing individuals because of similar identifying information, we are also seeing background check reports doing the same thing.  The results can be drastic.   Take for instance a recent report from NBC in Chicago about a man named Samuel Jackson.  Comparisons with the same-named famous actor likely sounded wonderful to this victim.  However, it was found that there are three other Samuel Jacksons who got mixed up into his criminal background report. They're Samuel Jacksons all convicted of sex offenses; two of whom are currently in prison.  Thus, when the innocent (and not famous) Mr. Jackson went to apply for employment,  his background check would do him in.  See article

The Fair Credit Reporting Act governs this scenario.  As we pointed out in our recent blog, Background Checks for Employment And The Fair Credit Reporting Act, the companies that provide these background checks are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  The background checks are, in fact, consumer reports under the FCRA. 

If you find out about inaccuracies on a background check or a credit report, the credit reporting agencies have an obligation under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to conduct an investigation and report with maximum possible accuracy.  If they fail to adhere to these obligations, you have rights.  SmithMarco, P.C., has over 30 years of combined experience practicing law protecting the rights of consumers around the country. If you feel that you're rights have been violated, please contact us for a free case review.

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