Background Check Companies Errrors’ Hurt Applicants

A MSNBC report focuses on the problem of background check companies confusing one person with another with the result that applicants lose job opportunities.

MSNBC interviewed a Ms. Catherine Taylor who the Red Cross wanted to hire her as an accountant. She was not hired after a Choice Point criminal background check came back with a rap sheet of drug felonies. The rap sheet was for a different Catherine Taylor who lived in another state. In another case, after Leonard Smith applied for a job, Sterling Information Systems confused him with a sex offender, who was in prison at the time.

A major problem is that background check companies rely on computers to match the data with no one checking to make sure the results are correct. The companies do not want to spend the money to ensure their reports are accurate. Incredibly, an industry representative said the error rate is less than 10% as if that were an achievement!

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires companies to use reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy. The Act gives applicants the right to dispute inaccurate reports, but the problem is that by the time the dispute process is concluded some days or weeks later, the damage is done and the employer has hired someone else. Persons who lose job opportunities because of errors in background checks have a right to sue the background check company for damages.


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