Contact Us
RSS Feed

Checking the Background Check

Have you applied for a job lately, and had your potential employer do a criminal background check? You are not alone: According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, almost three-fourths of hiring companies run background checks for at least some job applicants.

Let’s face it, personal data is more and more easily accessible. With that wealth of information, many new data providers have jumped into an eager market.

And not just for criminal or sex offender background checks; credit checks are increasingly being requested for job applicants and for rental applicants.

What can you do about it?

First be aware:

Not all data providers are reliable or accountable. Many of these companies have started, and conduct themselves, with no government oversight. They buy data, from a wide variety of sources, without being concerned if the collection is legal, accurate, or even for the correct person.

Sometimes the information itself may be flawed. Names can be confused—a person with a similar name and a criminal record can leave you without that job offer.  A misplaced digit in your Social Security Number can lead to incorrect information. A settled dispute regarding a debt may not have been cleared off your credit history. Past minor offences can suddenly show up categorized as major crimes, or sealed records suddenly are unsealed. Arrests that did not result in convictions may also show up on criminal background checks.

Know your rights:

Make sure you know what is legal. More and more cities and states are looking at regulating this issue. In San Francisco, for example, employers may no longer use the results of background and credit checks as the sole reason for not hiring an applicant.

In Hawaii, employers may ask about and consider criminal convictions less than ten years old that are rationally related to the duties and responsibilities of the job (banking, for example). Employers must first make a conditional offer of employment before running the background check.  The conditional job offer may be withdrawn if the applicant has a conviction record rationally related to the job. Contact the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission for more information.

You must give written permission to allow another person, even a potential employer, to request your credit report. If you are denied employment as a direct result of your credit report, the potential employer must give you a copy of the report and let you know you have the right to challenge it. More information from the Small Business Administration here.

If you have declared bankruptcy, it will show up on your credit report. However, Federal law prohibits employers from using that as a reason for not hiring.

Take action:

Review your credit report at least annually (it’s free!), especially if you are about to need it for a job or rental application. Take action to correct any mistakes.

If you are denied employment or housing, ask to see the supporting information collected about you. Check for errors, and make sure your potential employer or landlord knows the truth.

Remember that errors are common, and more and more companies are requesting background checks of one kind or another. It’s up to you to protect your rights, and make sure information reported about you is correct.

This entry was posted in Financial Education. Bookmark the permalink.

Apply For Microcredit Online

Steps to Apply for Microcredit

Apply Now