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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Expunged criminal records of job and housing applicants removed from government databases are still appearing in some background checks performed by private screening companies, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. However, a background check expert says these expunged records should not appear if the information is verified at the primary source.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “there is no national data on how often expunged records are reported by background check companies, because expunged records by definition no longer exist.” Research from the background screening industry mentioned in the article reveals “only a tiny fraction of applicants contest the accuracy of their reports each year.”

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires screening companies to “follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy” of the information contained in background check reports. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed eight cases against screening firms since 2009 for alleged FCRA violations, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of San Francisco, CA-area background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR), points out that professional screening firms such as ESR verify any potentially negative or derogatory information at the primary source to protect consumers from reporting matters that should not be reportable during background checks, including expunged records.

“These types of issues are created only where background screening firms are selling database information directly to the end user and do not go to the courthouse to verify the current status of a matter at the primary sources,” says Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ the first comprehensive guide to using background checks for employment purposes.

“Firms such as ESR that provide a professional background check service would never report a criminal matter from a database search without first verifying the underlying facts from current court records. ESR has long advocated for laws that require all criminal matters to be verified first at the courthouse, which is the California state rule,” Rosen explains.

ESR is a founding member of Concerned CRAs, a group of more than 200 Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) – the technical term for screening firms – that adopted a strict standard that no criminal information is reported from databases and screening firms must verify data at the primary source before reporting it to end users. To learn more, visit

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):

Founded in 1997 by safe hiring expert Attorney Lester Rosen, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – is a nationwide background screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). For more information about ESR, please call toll free 888.999.4474 or visit


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