Background Check: Employment

Why do employers want to check your background? It could be for one of several reasons. If government security clearances are required for the job you are interviewing for, an employment background check may be required.  The employer may want to make sure you are telling the truth. It’s estimated that up to 40% of resumes can contain false or tweaked information, so, employers want to insure that what they are getting in an employee is what they were promised. The employer may perform a background check to find out whether actually graduated from the college you said you did or to confirm that you worked at your previous employer(s) during the time stated on your resume or your job application.

Background Check Information

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. 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.

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.

By Alison Doyle, About.com Guide

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