Background checks are often a big part of the hiring process. Over 90% of employers run a background check on applicants, and a mistake in your background check could prevent you from getting the job you want. Many job seekers don’t realize just how common these errors are, however, these errors are not only an issue in a large percentage of checks but in many cases they are growing in number. There are several reasons for these errors, and we will discuss some of these.
During the pandemic, a large number of people have changed their housing arrangements and their jobs. Generally, both potential landlords and employers run a background check on applicants. So, with the large number of people applying for apartments or jobs, there has been a large increase in the request for background checks. This has resulted in an expanding industry. These background check firms are also increasing the services they offer. Some background check firms now offer continuous background checks, and some also now include social media. These changes have caused regulators to be concerned that with the large amount of data involved, there will be increased errors. In fact, with so many background checks being done, there are likely to be a large number of people hurt by errors, even if the error rate is low.
Background checks are becoming more automated, but typically little is known about the AI used in these programs. Even in lawsuits, this information is kept from the public for intellectual property reasons. This has people concerned about the way the data is processed. This doesn’t mean this technology is bad. It does allow background checks to be completed much more quickly, which can help both parties involved in the check. But, the lack of transparency does cause some concerns.
Some errors seem hard to explain for any reason other than a lack of attention to the task at hand. This includes cases where the name and address don’t match, or the names are the same but spelled differently. Errors in background checks should be relatively rare since every background check should have at least a name, birth date, and current address, which should ensure the information found is for the correct individual in most cases. Although, it is even better to have a driver’s license number or Social Security number to be certain the information found is for the correct person.
The FCRA does provide some protection for applicants as it does require an employer to obtain permission from an applicant before running a background check. The FCRA also allows people to dispute the results of background checks if they believe the report contains an error. Then, if someone disputes a report, the background check company has thirty days to investigate. Unfortunately for job applicants, the FCRA does not require employers to wait 30 days before hiring someone else. The Federal Trade Commission requests that employers wait a reasonable amount of time for the dispute to be settled. But, this is generally considered to be five days. This means a job could easily be gone by the time an error is corrected.
More states, as well as cities and counties, have adopted “ban the box” laws. The laws prohibit employers from asking an applicant about their criminal background on an application. Many of these laws go even further and require employers to make a conditional job offer before asking an applicant about their criminal history or running a background check.
It’s easy to see the risks that a background check from a poor provider can cause. An inaccurate background check can hurt a person’s chances of obtaining a job, an apartment, a loan, and more. The best way to prevent issues like these is to acquire a personal background check from a provider you can trust and make any needed corrections before your future employer or landlord ever needs to see it.
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