Reviewing your background check report for errors and inaccuracies

In today’s job market, an increasing number of employers rely on criminal background check reports during their hiring process. However, these reports, often from consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), can have serious errors and inaccuracies that affect your chances of being hired. Knowing your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and how to review and fix these reports, is important for keeping your professional reputation intact.

Obtaining your background check report

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires companies and credit bureaus to be accurate in their background check reports. Despite this, errors and mistakes happen frequently. These range from minor to major inaccuracies that can negatively impact your job opportunities and misrepresent your character. Common errors include:

  • Mismatched Identities: This occurs when your report includes criminal records belonging to someone else, often due to shared common names.
  • Outdated or Irrelevant Information: Reports might wrongfully include sealed, expunged, or outdated criminal records, such as arrests not leading to convictions. These should not be reported after seven years or in certain states like California.
  • Misclassified Offenses: An offense might be incorrectly reported as a felony when it actually was a misdemeanor, making your criminal history look worse than it is.
  • Duplicate Listings: A single charge reported multiple times can falsely portray a history of repeated offenses.

Remember, employers must get your written consent before accessing your report. To protect yourself, it’s important to obtain a copy for yourself, which you can get by checking the box on your consent form.

What to do if you find errors

If you find mistakes in your background check report, it’s important to act quickly. Here’s are some straightforward steps you can take:

  1. Document the Errors: Clearly identify each discrepancy in the report.
  2. Contact your CRA: File a formal dispute with the CRA that issued the report, detailing the errors. Include any documents that back up your claims.
  3. Follow Up: CRAs are typically required to complete an investigation within 30 days and provide you with the results. However, many do not, so make sure your CRA investigates your dispute.

Contacting your background check company and getting a copy of your report shouldn’t be difficult. Yet all too often, individuals fail to get an answer from their credit reporting agency. When this happens, you have the right to take action. In some states like California, if your background check report contains errors that you successfully dispute, you might even be entitled to compensation.

Information that should not be reported

False Credit Reporting Damage can ruin a person’s life. So, it’s important to know what information should not be included in your background check report. Be sure to watch out for:

  • mismatched people
  • incomplete information 
  • arrests without convictions
  • expunged crimes
  • misleading information
  • adverse driving history
  • misclassified offenses
  • diversion program arrests
  • minor marijuana arrests
  • old convictions (California)

Regularly reviewing your background check report is more than a precaution; it’s essential for protecting your professional reputation. Take the steps today to make sure your report is fair, accurate, and truly reflects who you are.

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