If you have been denied employment or promotion based upon your background check that contains inaccurate background check information you may be recovered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Erroneous information in a background check report occurs quite often. Background check companies make mistakes all the time. These mistakes include mixing people with other people’s bad information from criminal and other records. Also, background check companies may fail to update and have the most current and up-to-date information on your reports. Nevertheless, these inaccuracies may cost you a job. If you believe there is any inaccurate information in your background check report you shouldn’t ignore it. Flawed information in your credit reports or criminal records may indicate you are a victim of some kind of fraud or identity theft.
You are aware it is quite common for employers to do a background check on prospective employees. There is about 96% of employers who do some kind of background check before they offer an employment agreement. But, you should know there are certain rights provided by the Fair Credit Reporting Act for the screened person.
Know Your Rights Under The FCRA
There are many types of consumer reporting agencies like credit bureaus or special agencies that can be hired to do a background check or credit repair. All of them are required to comply with the FCRA. Here is a summary of your major rights regarding a background check report.
- Your consent is needed for reports to be provided to the employer. If the employer wants to run a background check on you, it is illegal to do it without your written consent.
- You must be notified if the information from your background check is used against you. If anyone denies your application for credit, insurance or employment because of negative marks in your background check, must tell you and must give you the name and other information about the agency that provided your background check.
- You have the right to dispute information you believe is inaccurate or incomplete in your background check. If you dispute any information that is inaccurate or incomplete in your report, a consumer reporting agency is required to investigate the disputed information and inform you about the result of the investigation within 30 days.
- Consumer reporting agencies must delete or correct any disputed information that can’t be verified. Also, negative information that is outdated may not be reported in your background check. In most cases, it is seven years for negative information and ten years for bankruptcies. After this period information like this couldn’t be contained in your background check.
- You may sue violators of the FCRA. If the consumer reporting agency or the background check company violates the FCRA you may be able to sue in state or federal court for damages you suffered.
Most Common Mistakes In Your Background Check
It often happens that background check agencies include information in your background check that is inaccurate, incorrect, or outdated. Background check companies are required to utilize procedures to ensure maximum accuracy of the information in your report. Some information in your public records might be ordered by a court to be expunged (erased from public records) or sealed (hidden from public view). Therefore it must not be included in your background check report. If information like this is included in your background check you have the right to dispute it.
It may happen that your information is mixed up with someone else’s information. It may be a person with the same or similar name or a person with a similar social security number. More often than not, it happens that your information is mixed with the information of some relative with the same first name and last name. A typo is enough to create a mix-up.
Your background check report must not contain outdated information. This means that the information ordered by a court to be expunged or sealed should not be found in your background check. There are time limits, set by the FCRA, on pieces of information that appear in your background check report. This time limit is ten years for bankruptcies, seven years for civil judgments, and paid tax liens. There are no time limitations for criminal convictions. They stay on your reports indefinitely.
It is important to know how to react if inaccurate background information occurs in your report. The situation could be tricky to handle. You should dispute any incorrect, inaccurate, or outdated information. But how to do it?
How To Dispute Inaccurate Background Check Information
The employer may decide to take adverse action against you based on your background check. This means they are not going to hire you or you are not going to get a promotion or a raise, because of something the employer doesn’t like in your background check. The employer is obligated to inform you in writing of this fact and to tell you which background check company the employer used to get this report and tell you what your rights are to dispute this report under the FCRA.
If the background check company is reporting inaccurate information, you have the right to dispute the information you believe is inaccurate. The best way to do it is to write a dispute letter. Don’t call them or try to dispute the information online using a particular form on their website. Write a letter and tell them which information exactly you find inaccurate, and if you have any documents or evidence of your dispute, send it in a letter, let them see those. Make sure you send copies and keep the original documents for yourself. It is also very important to send a dispute letter in a way that you can guarantee it was delivered, be it certified or registered mail.
The background check company is required by the FCRA to conduct a reasonable investigation within a 30-day period and report the results of the investigation back to you. So you will know in 30 days whether or not your dispute is understood and the information corrected. If the background check company continues to report inaccurate background check information and does nothing about your dispute, it is time to contact a lawyer specialized in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Most of the lawyers will evaluate your situation free of charge and tell you if you have the case or not. You should know that you have the right under the FCRA to sue the background check company for the damages that have been caused to you by the errors and inaccuracies they had reported in your background check.