Can You Dispute a Background Check?

It’s critical that you request to view your background check results, because if the information is inaccurate, you can dispute your background check report.

Mind blown?? Good. That’s what we were hoping for.

We can’t tell you how many times we hear from job applicants who had no idea why they were turned down for a gig, only to later find out that it had something to do with incorrect information on a background check.

Time may not be on your side, though, so if you see something wrong you must act quickly. Although you CAN correct erroneous information, an employer is under no obligation to HOLD a job for you while you do this.

Here what action you can take if you find out something is wrong on your background check report:

Credit Information – If you were notified by a potential employer that something negative turned up on your credit report, you can request a free credit report from any agency who complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You can then contact the Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) and ask them to change the information. You may need to provide additional information to verify your identity.

Education – Call your school’s registrar or office of student affairs to confirm your standing and history with them. Then ask them to contact your screening agency to re-verify the information.

Criminal Background Information – Cases of misidentification can be cleared by contacting the courthouse where the supposed offense happened and requesting a security clearance. You may need to provide personal identifying information to verify your identity and pay a fee for this service. If the error occurred through an FBI fingerprint report, you’ll need to go to its website and fill out the appropriate forms.

Employers – Two of the biggest FCRA rules that employers repeatedly fail to comply with are Authorization and Adverse Action. Violations of these routinely get even the most seasoned and robust American companies into trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Adverse Action is, essentially, when an employer decides not to hire an applicant based on the information in the background check. You have a legal right to know what your background check results were and why they negatively affected your job prospect. This is called pre-adverse action.

Pre-adverse action guidelines dictate that a job applicant must be given:

•A pre-adverse action notice that includes a copy of the background check you used to make your determination

•A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” The screening agency who performed the background check should supply this.

The Summary of Rights Under the FCRA should tell job applicants what actions they can legally take:

• You must be told if information has been used against you.

• You have the right to know what’s in your file.

• You have the right to ask for a credit score.

• You have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.

Consumer reporting agencies (background screening agencies are also called CRA’s) must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information.

• Consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information.

• Access to your file is limited.

• You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers.

• You may limit “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report.

• You may seek damages from violators.

• Identity theft victims and active duty military personnel have additional rights.

Once pre-adverse action notice is completed, employers can review the information and ask job applicants to explain any red flags. During this time, you can ask to correct any negative information in your report. Again, keep in mind that while you CAN correct erroneous information, an employer is under no obligation to HOLD a job for you while you do this.

If you don’t move to correct the incorrect information in your report within a reasonable amount of time, employers are legally allowed to move forward with Adverse Action notification:

•Employers must tell you in person, in writing, or electronically that you were rejected because of information in the report

•Include the name, address and phone number of the screening agency/CRA

•Inform you that the screening agency didn’t make the hiring decision and doesn’t know why you weren’t hired

•Ensure that you know that you can dispute the information in the report, ask for a correction and request a free report from the same agency within 60 days.

What other questions about background checks do you have for us? Write ‘em in the comments below and we’ll tackle them in upcoming ActiveCare posts.

Know of anyone applying for jobs right now? Make sure to forward this post to them so they know what rights they have when it comes to background checks.

This entry was posted in Background Screening, Criminal Records, General, Identity & Credit, Industry Solutions, News, 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.
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