Background Check Errors: Why They Happen and What Job Seekers Can Do About Them

We have an awesomely good customer retention rate – 97%. That’s partly because we offer exceptional service and reliable tools like our ACTivate Platform. But it’s also because we rarely make mistakes, and if an error occurs on a background report, we work diligently to discover its root, correct the information, and communicate with all parties involved in the screening process.

Being transparent about the screening process is important to us at Active Screening for many reasons:

  • Boost general knowledge about background checks for employers, employees and other curious people
  • Increase use of background checks as a necessary employment tool
  • Inform companies about the many reasons to incorporate background checks into their hiring processes and explain the increased risks associated with not using them
  • Demystify the methodology behind background checks and tools used to collect the information
  • Showcase our responsibility toward delivering best-in-class background checks as a nationally-accredited screening agency, and our commitment to correcting errors so they don’t happen again
  • Explain the laws associated with hiring, screening and on-boarding
  • Show the good and the bad of the background check industry so employers and employees can make better decisions

As much as we try to mitigate the chances of errors happening, the fact is that mistakes DO occur in the background check process. What’s important is that if an error is uncovered everyone works together to correct the information and not get caught in the blame game. Let’s examine why some errors might happen and what job seekers can do to correct them.

Misinformation – We’re talking about basic information like your name or birthdate or Social Security Number
getting misread, misreported, or misinterpreted from the get-go. This can happen because of sloppy handwriting, number transposition, or any other honest human mistake. That’s the point to remember with this mistake – it’s human in its origin and a machine (computer databases) will only turn out the information that humans put in it. If it’s incorrect from the start, the results will be wrong, too.

Common Name – John Smith. Dave Johnson. Mary David. If you have a common name, a search will turn up tons of results and only one of them will actually be you. It’s easy to see how mistakes happen here. That’s why it’s imperative if you have a common name, you give as much specific information as possible if you have authorized an employer to run a background check. Yes, in a perfect world, the screening agencies would be able to rifle through all the results and find the one that fits ‘you.’ But to save yourself the heartache if an identity error is turned up, provide more specific details like an SSN up front.

Identity Theft – Sometimes you won’t even know you’re a victim until the search results come back with unfavorable information. It stinks but it happens. Just ask Jason Bateman. 

Law Mixups – Every state is entitled to enact laws to protect job seekers beyond the federal statutes already in place. Problems arise when the folks conducting the background checks (this could be anyone from off-shored screening agencies to in-house Human Resources departments) aren’t familiar with each state’s laws and end up looking at information they shouldn’t be privy to.

If any of these scenarios happen to you, don’t fret. There are steps you can take to correct the information:

  • If you are denied a job because of a background report, the employer has to tell you that the results were the reason. This is called Adverse Action. You should also be given a copy of the report. If the employer fails to tell you any of this and fails to give you a copy of the results, they are violating federal law and you can sue them.
  • You can request that the information be corrected, but you must do this within 60 days of getting the results. It’s best to notify the employer straightaway and provide evidence to prove the information is wrong, then, together, you can move forward to get the background check results corrected. Don’t wait on this part, though, because the employer is under no obligation during the 60-day period to hold the job open for you.

Has a background check ever turned up erroneous information on you? How did you discover the problem? What did you do to resolve it? We’d like to hear your story. Leave a comment below.

This entry was posted in Applicant-Entry Solutions, Background Screening, Criminal Records, Human Resources, Identity & Credit, References & Credentialing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia’s clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter – give her a shout @pattycfreelance.

 
        
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.