The Fair Credit Reporting Act and Employment Background Checks

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) an employer is not
required to conduct an
employment background check
but most employers do. 
Whether you are a potential employee looking to get hired or
currently employed at your job, the FCRA has adopted standards that
employers must adhere to when conducting a background check.

In general, most consumers inquire whether they have a right to
know when a background check is requested.  The plain and
simple answer is YES.  Employers must provide notice and
receive written consent from potential or existing employees prior
to
conducting a background check
.  Under recent amendments to
the FCRA and an opinion from the Federal Trade
Commission
(“FTC”) employers must follow a strict protocol
prior to delving into your consumer history. 

Under the FCRA, after your employer conducts a background check
and uses the information to take “adverse action” against, that is
terminating employment, denying your application for employment or
denying your promotion, the employer must comply with the
statute
.  First, prior to taking adverse action, the
employer must provide you with a copy of your credit report and a
summary of your rights under the FCRA.  Next, after taking
adverse action, the employer must provide you with an “adverse
action notice.”  This notice must provide the name, address,
and phone number of the employment screening company, a statement
that this company did not make the adverse decision, rather that
the employer did, and a notice that you have the right to dispute
the accuracy or completeness of any of the information in the
report.

In the event there is
an error on your report
, there are steps you can take to repair
it.  First you should discuss any inaccuracies directly with
your employer.  Explain that your report contains errors and
that you will launch a more formal investigation, but perhaps by
explaining your situation you will be able to get your job back
after clearing up the errors.  Next, file a written dispute
with the employment screening company that reported the
inaccuracy.  I suggest you write and not call-or do both, no
harm in making a call to dispute and following it up with a
letter.  Make sure to send the letter certified mail so you
have proof it was received.  The process for disputing errors
on your employment background check is the same as the process for
disputing errors on your credit
report.        

After receiving your dispute letter, the employment screening
company has 30 to 45 days to investigate, just like the credit
reporting agencies.  If the information you are disputing
cannot be verified as accurate it must be deleted from your
report.  The screening company must send you a response to
your investigation with the results and you are entitled to request
it also send the revised results to any employer who reviewed your
report during the two years prior.

Unfortunately, an employer has no obligation to hold your job
during the dispute process or change its decision to hire you or
extend you that promotion.  If you are having issues with an
employment background check and need advice or assistance, contact
SmithMarco P.C. for a free case
review
.