A ‘7 On Your Side’ report from KGO-TV ABC 7 in San Francisco, CA, shows that while many employers currently conduct criminal background checks on job applicants as part of an employment screening program, these job applicants can find out the hard way what happens if those background check results are a case of mistaken identity.
According to the report, a Vallejo, California man who applied for a job in security was offered the position pending a background check. Unfortunately, his background check contained a list of criminal charges – including criminal sexual contact, assault with intent to commit a violent felony, battery, and false imprisonment – committed by a another man with the same first name, last name, and birth date (but who had a different middle name) that ‘7 On Your Side’ learned was serving time at a New Mexico state prison and had been since 2009.
After being denied employment based on misinformation in the background check report, the man had the right to dispute the results of the background check report. However, the employer was not obligated to extend a job offer.
The man then applied for a job at a car dealership and when the same results turned up on a background check report he immediately filed a formal appeal with the background check company which soon confirmed that he had no criminal record. The man is currently employed and may soon be offered a job at the car dealership, KGO-TV reports.
As reported on ESR News in recent months, cases of mistaken identity in background checks, though not common, do occasionally occur:
- Inaccurate Criminal Background Check Information Leaves Innocent Man Jobless (12/15/2010): A man from Pennsylvania was stunned after he was fired from his job at a video-game store for ‘nondisclosure of information’ on his application caused by what turned out to be erroneous information on a background check.
- Error in Criminal Database Search during Background Check Falsely Labels Candidate a Crook (9/27/2010): A political candidate in south Florida was falsely labeled a criminal after a required background check database search erroneously stated that he had been arrested for credit card fraud.
Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – which promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) – if consumers identify information in their background check report that is incomplete or inaccurate and report it to the consumer reporting agency, the CRA must investigate unless the dispute is frivolous. Inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected, usually within 30 days.
Consumers are entitled to several major rights under the FCRA concerning the use of background checks for employment purposes which are contained in the document ‘A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act’ and include the following:
- Consumers must be told if information in their file has been used against them.
- Consumers have the right to know what is in their file.
- Consumers have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.
- Consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information.
- Consumer reporting agencies may not report outdated negative information.
- Access to a Consumer’s file is limited.
- Consumers must give their consent for reports to be provided to employers.
More detailed information can be found in the document ‘A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act’ available at http://www.esrcheck.com/docs/Consumerrights.pdf.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . ESR is also a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent that helps employers maintain I-9 Form compliance and a legal workforce. To learn more about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@ESRcheck.com.