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Employee Background Checks

Job Applicant and Employee Background Checks

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What's included in an employee background check? The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets the standards for screening for employment. The FCRA defines a background check as a consumer report.

Notification Requirements

Before an employer can get a consumer report or run a credit check for employment purposes, they must notify you in writing and get your written authorization. If the employer is simply conducting inquiries (rather than running reports) they should also ask for your consent. That way you could withdraw your application if there is information you would rather not see disclosed.

If an employer decides not to hire because of this report, they must give you a pre-adverse action disclosure that includes a copy of the report and a copy of your rights. They must then give you notice that they have decided not to hire you and let you know the name and address of Consumer Reporting Agency and information on your right to dispute the report.

What Can be Checked

At a minimum, a background check will verify your social security number. At most, it can include an analysis of your work history, the people you know, along with a full credit report. It can also include your credit payment records, driving records or criminal history. The inquiries should be related to the job. For example, if you are hired to work in a bank, it would be reasonable to find out if you have a history of embezzlement or theft.

Background Check Privacy

What can't be included in a background check? There is some information that cannot be disclosed under any circumstances. School records are confidential and cannot be released without the consent of the student. You cannot be discriminated against because you filed for bankruptcy, however, bankruptcies are a public record, so, it is easy for employers to obtain the information. Laws vary on checking criminal history. Some states don't allow questions about arrests or convictions beyond a certain point in the past. Others only allow consideration of criminal history for certain positions.

Here's information on what can be included in an employment background report.

Employers cannot request medical records and may not make hiring decisions based on an applicant's disability. They may only inquire about your ability to perform a certain job. The same holds true for Worker's Compensation. The military can disclose your name, rank, salary, assignments and awards without your consent. Driving records are not confidential either and can be released without consent.

Be Prepared for a Background Check

The best way to prepare for a background check is to be aware of the information that an employer might find. Get a copy of your credit report. If there is erroneous information, dispute it with the creditor. Check your motor vehicle record by requesting a copy of your record from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Ask your previous employers for copies of your personnel files. Make sure you know what your references are going to say about you. Here's information on how to prepare for an employment background check.

Most importantly, make sure your resume and job applications are accurate and truthful. If you lie you might not get caught right away, but, you will probably get caught at some point. It's not worth not getting hired, getting fired and ruining your employment history because your thought your resume might need some enhancing!

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