Can a Background Check Error Kill Your Job Opportunity?

Pittsburgh Consumer Fraud Defense Attorneys at East End Trial Group Represent Clients Denied Employment Opportunities Due to Incorrect Background Checks.

Learning that there are errors in your background check report can be frightening and prevent you from being hired. However, genuine mistakes and inaccurate information in background check reports are quite common for many reasons and are usually correctible.

When a background check reporting agency prepares reports, they cull information from multiple sources and public databases. With the vast amount of information gathered, it stands to reason that inaccurate information can be reported from any of the sources. Some common errors on background checks are:

  • Information on another person with the same or similar name.
  • Expunged or sealed records appearing.
  • Original documents used that contain incorrect or missing information.
  • Arrest records with no charges.
  • Misdemeanor charges listed as felonies.
  • Duplicate charges of a single incident.
  • Missing information.
  • Clerical and typographical errors made by computer or employee.

Background reporting companies rely on private and public databases as sources to compile reports. Errors often occur when these sources are not updated regularly, or outdated information is not removed. Because of this, the background reporting companies are not likely to correct the information if requested. To get to the source of the errors in your report, it is a good idea to obtain your credit report, driving records, military service records, educational history, criminal records, and previous employment.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) details procedures that employers are required to follow regarding the background check process, the first being that they inform all applicants of their intent to run a background check on you. Employers are not allowed to run a check on any applicant without their written consent to do so.

Potential employers can legally deny your application for a job or promotion based on information contained in your background check report. In such circumstances, the employer is required to inform you of the information in the report that was used as basis for denying you the job. Under the FCRA and various state laws, you have guaranteed rights:

  • You must have provided written consent to a background check with potential employers.
  • You must be notified if you are denied employment based on your background check report.
  • You are entitled to a copy of the report.
  • You have the right to dispute errors.
  • Proven mistakes must be corrected or removed within 30 days.
  • You must be provided with the name and contact details for the background check reporting agency used.
  • You are entitled to one additional free background check report within 60 days of the employer’s decision not to hire you.
  • You must be provided with A Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA.
  • You have the right to file a lawsuit against the background check or consumer reporting companies if they have violated your rights under the FCRA.
  • One key factor under the FCRA dictates that employers cannot deny your application based on the background check without first providing you with an opportunity to dispute the results.
  • You also have the right to decline a potential employer’s request to run a background check, however, doing so may ultimately prevent you from being hired.

What Are Employers Allowed to Ask?

When hiring, employers are required to treat all applicants equally regarding background checks. They must ask the same background check questions with every applicant, regardless of race, age, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetics and family medical history, or sex, including sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender identity, or transgender status.

Employers are also required to follow established rules regarding the type of questions they can and cannot ask during the hiring process.

Employers can ask questions regarding your:

  • Current and previous employment history, along with contact information for each.
  • Level of education and your academic performance.
  • Financial and credit history to ascertain information regarding your character and responsibility.
  • Public activity and affiliations or memberships.

Employers cannot ask questions regarding:

  • Additional background information, such as whether you have filed discrimination or sexual harassment complaints against previous employers.
  • Retaliation against you for asserting your rights under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
  • Discrimination against you based on your protected categories, such as race or sexual orientation gleaned from your criminal history.
  • Discrimination against you based on your protected areas of race, sex, age, national origin, color, disability, gender identity or transgender status, sexual orientation, pregnancy.

Additionally, employers are required to inform you, in writing, that all information obtained from your reports may be used in their decision whether to hire, promote, or fire you.

How Can I Prevent Errors on My Background Check?

While genuine mistakes do happen, taking a proactive approach to make sure yours is correct before applying can help prevent you from losing a potential job, such as:

  • Background report: One of the best ways to help avoid surprises when the potential employer conducts your background check is to run one on yourself beforehand. This ensures that you know exactly what the employer will see. Under the FCRA, convictions more than seven years ago must be removed from your record. If your report contains outdated information, you can contest it through the court in the jurisdiction where your charge was filed.
  • Police records: You can request criminal records in your name from local police agencies and the FBI, which may differ from the information in your background check report. Federal criminal records can be obtained through the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

In addition to the background check, employers often request additional information from credit reports, driving records, education, or drug and alcohol testing. You can obtain most of this information yourself by:

  • Requesting a copy of your driving record through the state’s DMV.
  • Obtaining a copy of your credit report from one or all of the three national credit reporting agencies. You are entitled to one free report per agency, per year.
  • Requesting copies of your school transcripts from high school, college, or university.

To further protect yourself, never include your Social Security number or banking information on your resume, cover letter, or applications for employment. Potential employers are allowed to ask for your Social Security number during the interview, and your banking information during the onboarding process if you are hired in order to deposit your paycheck directly into your account.

Employment postings that ask for your Social Security number or banking information as part of the application process are likely fake postings in order to solicit your personal and financial information for identity theft purposes.

Additionally, be mindful of what you post on social media, including comments made to other posts. Scouring social media platforms of job applicants is commonplace for many organizations, as it provides details of your character or affiliations and can affect whether you are hired or not.

Pittsburgh Consumer Fraud Defense Attorneys at East End Trial Group Represent Clients Denied Employment Opportunities Due to Incorrect Background Checks

Losing out on much-needed employment can be devastating. If you have been denied employment based on inaccurate information contained in your background check report, speak with one of our Pittsburgh consumer fraud defense attorneys at East End Trial Group. Call us at 412-223-5740 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.

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