Background Check Wrongly Says I’m a Criminal!
All it takes is someone with the same or similar name, birthdate, address, or other matching identifying information to have a stranger’s record inaccurately mixed with yours. Their DUI, their theft conviction, or their sex offence can then show up on YOUR report. It’s no surprise then that bad background checks for employment, rent, or security clearance can ruin someone’s livelihood and reputation in an instant.
F L I T T E R M I L Z: Client Story
Flitter Milz understands the impact of employment background checks. Recently, a client of ours was moving to a new town. He applied for a job, and a rental home. He was denied the job, and the rental. Our client inquired with the employer and landlord. After receiving a copy of the background screening report, he found that a stranger’s criminal history appeared on his report. This story is all too common today.
CFPB on Background Reports: Accuracy and Privacy
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently published an advisory warning that background check companies must take care not to mix consumers’ files or otherwise threaten consumer privacy. According to CFPB Director Rohit Chopra, “The CFPB will be taking steps to use the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to combat misuse and abuse of personal data on background screening and credit reports.”
Permissible Purpose to Obtain Background Check
More than 90% of prospective employers, landlords, insurance companies and banks use background check data as part of their application process. These companies must have a legally permissible purpose to obtain a copy of a consumer’s background report when evaluating the consumer for credit, insurance, housing, or employment decisions. The consumer is entitled to a copy of the background check report used to evaluate his or her application.
Background Reports to be Accurate and Kept Private
Background reports include information such as, employment history, credit information and legal problems. In some cases, social media accounts may show up. The more data listed in a background check could mean a greater possibility for error. As a result, the consumer could be denied a job, housing, insurance or credit. Just one error on a background report can cause significant harm. Procedures for maintaining and dispensing accurate information are critical. Background reports must ensure proper identification of the applicant, plus accurate data related to the applicant. Disclaimers by background reporting companies do not cure permissible violations. Instead, they could violate a person’s privacy, which is strictly prohibited under the FCRA.
Written Permission for a Background Check
When a background check is required, the prospective employer or landlord must obtain written permission from the applicant to request a report. A Disclosure Notice and Authorization form must be filled out and signed by the applicant, then submitted to the background check company. Most authorization forms require the applicant’s full name, date of birth, social security number, current zip code, phone number and email address. Screening for some types of employment may require additional information, such as motor vehicle reports, employment verifications or international criminal checks.
Victim of a Mixed Credit Files? Steps to Take
If you’re the victim of a mixed file, take steps to dispute the errors with the reporting bureau.
- Obtain a copy of the screening report used by the employer or landlord to evaluate your application.
- Prepare a written dispute and send it to the background check company. Enclose a copy of the report with the error highlighted. Include documents which illustrate why the reported information is incorrect.
- Request investigation of your dispute. The background company must send a response to your dispute, and correct or remove the inaccuracy within 30 days of your dispute.
Seek help from a Fair Credit Reporting Lawyer
The attorneys at Flitter Milz have extensive experience dealing with violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If a background checking company fails to correct information on your report, and you’ve suffer the loss of a job, rental, or other damages, you may be able to sue the company for money – and your legal fees will be paid by that violating reporting bureau. Contact us today for a no cost legal evaluation.
Pictured: Cary Flitter (center), Andy Milz (left), Jody López-Jacobs (right).