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Consumer’s Rights with Background Screening

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March 17, 2014 Return to News & Events

Consumer’s Rights with Background Screening

Background screening is a common tool utilized by a majority of businesses and organizations in vetting new employees and/or volunteers. Pre-employment screening is a specific type of background check relevant to the hiring process and makes use of a variety of public records; such as criminal history, social security number trace, sex offender registry, among others. In some instances credit histories are used as part of the pre-employment screening process.

In the United States background screening is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA “promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies.”

Under the FCRA an individual has numerous rights and protections in regards to public records.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “Every third-party background screening company and CRA (Credit Reporting Agency) must abide by the rules and regulations enforced and governed by the FCRA. Failure to do so could lead to litigation at the hands of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).”

As listed in “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”, one notable line item is:

You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers. A consumer reporting agency may not give out information about you to your employer, or a potential employer, without your written consent given to the employer.

Almeida states: “A critical point is a written release allowing an individual to provide consent.”

Another point of great importance for a candidate is notification of adverse action as well as the steps to take after adverse action is taken.

From the Bureau of Consumer Protection:

If you take an adverse action based on information in a consumer report, you must give the applicant or employee a notice of that fact – orally, in writing, or electronically.

An adverse action notice tells people about their rights to see information being reported about them and to correct inaccurate information. The notice must include:

• the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company that supplied the report;

• a statement that the company that supplied the report did not make the decision to take the unfavorable action and can't give specific reasons for it; and

• a notice of the person's right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information the consumer reporting company furnished, and to get an additional free report from the company if the person asks for it within 60 days.

Third-party background screening companies should be well versed in the rules and regulations that govern the screening industry. Under the guidance of the Fair Credit Reporting Act individuals have protections over privacy. Failure to comply or follow the caveats of the FCRA could result in legal action.

Individuals should understand their rights in regards to background screening. One should review the Summary of Rights as outlined by the FTC. Go to: is a third-party background screening company that specializes in pre-employment background screening and the use of criminal histories. Their highly trained staff can assist a company of any size in developing a fully compliant and legal employment background screening program.

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