A criminal record history check is one of the most common elements of an employment background check. In the U.S., for example, a criminal record history background check may include a search of county, state and federal court records for felony and misdemeanor records. The background check ordered also may include a search of sex offender registries or a state’s department of motor vehicles records.
The background screening companies that perform employment background checks are generally considered “Consumer Reporting Agencies” and are regulated under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). As such, they are required to use reasonable procedures to ensure maximum accuracy in reporting of information.
Even with reasonable procedures, however, cases of mistaken identity can still occur and often are the result of the information available in a public record. For example, while courts often require a name and date of birth to retrieve a matching record, the courts usually do not include Social Security Numbers with the records. This generally is due to the trend in the U.S. court system and elsewhere to limit identifying information from public records as a privacy measure, which creates additional challenges when attempting to match records to individuals.
In a case of mistaken identity, or where a background report otherwise may be inaccurate, the FCRA requires Consumer Reporting Agencies to have a process in place to allow the subject of the report (a job applicant) to dispute the inaccuracies in their background report and require the Consumer Reporting Agency to timely investigate the dispute.
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