Georgia Resident Claims Background Check Mistake Cost Him Rental Opportunity

Background Check (Designed by Freepik)
March 6, 2023

A resident of Georgia claims that a tenant screening company provided an incorrect report. This report indicated the resident had a felon, which resulted in a landlord rejecting his rental application.

According to the complaint filed in federal court, the tenant screening agency did not use reasonable procedures. Reasonable procedures would have included a manual or in-person review when collecting consumer data. As a result, the agency mistakenly applied another person’s name and criminal history to his report. The plaintiff accused the agency of caring more about their business interests than his consumer rights because it cost less. He also stated that the tenant screening agency violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

According to the complaint, the plaintiff sought a home to live in with his four children in May 2022. However, after applying to rent a three-bedroom house, the company that received the tenant screening report rejected the plaintiff’s application. Despite this rejection, the plaintiff did not include the company in this lawsuit.

After the rejection, the plaintiff contacted the tenant screening agency and spoke to a representative who informed him of the multiple felony convictions. In addition, according to the complaint, he had three assault charges and a drug distribution on his records. The plaintiff claimed he never lived in Oregon and never faced felony convictions.

Additionally, the plaintiff asserted that the tenant screening company did not check Oregon’s public court records. He pointed out how these records were readily available and would have established that the convictions did not belong to him. In fact, the records belonged to someone with a similar name currently serving time for the reported convictions.

The plaintiff emphasized the difference in the full name, Social Security Number, address history, and birth date between the convicted and himself. Furthermore, he disputed the discrepancies and proved that the records did not belong to him. As a result, the tenant screening company removed the information from his report.

Unfortunately, this did not change the denied housing application, as the agency did not amend the report before then. The plaintiff believes the screening results gave the landlord the wrong impression of him. Because he could not obtain a different home in time, he had to renew his lease on the one-bedroom apartment for himself and his family.

As a result, the complaint stresses how he sustained injuries directly from the defendant’s incorrect report. He believes these injuries qualify under the FCRA, citing the Act’s design to address such situations.

This case reminds all landlords and other users of background checks of the importance of accurate screening. The best way to ensure businesses acquire accurate screening reports is by partnering with a trustworthy background check company. In addition, the right provider will ensure FCRA compliance and mitigate litigation risks.

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