Background Checks Routinely Contain Errors, Cost Many People Jobs

Just because you have a clean record doesn’t mean that you’ll pass your background check. A new report claims that background screening companies routinely report false information.

Persis Yu, a National Consumer Law Center staff attorney who helped create the “Broken Records”report, said:

“These reports really should be accurate. Unfortunately, too often, what we found is, they’re not.”

MSNBC reports that the erroneous information in background checks can range from falsely reporting the school a person attended to returning a background check on a completely different person.

The report uses the case of Samuel M. Jackson as an example. Jackson was recently denied a job in Illinois because his background check stated that he was convicted of rape in 1987. The real Jackson was just 4-years-old at the time of the crime. The person who was convicted in 1987 was a 58-year-old named Samuel L. Jackson who was in prison in Virginia at the time of the background check.

Yu said:

“Background screening companies routinely cut corners to improve their profits and then they wipe their hands of any responsibility for producing an inaccurate or misleading report…. Federal regulatory agencies and states should rein in the Wild West of the background screening industry by holding companies accountable.”

The Daily Mail reports that more and more companies are conducting background checks on job applicants every year. Right now, about 75 percent of employees will comb through a person’s past before making a new hire.

Yu said:

“Background screening companies generate billions of dollars in revenue for producing sloppy work while consumers are left handcuffed with little recourse to challenge and correct misleading or incorrect personal information…. Anyone with a computer and access to records can start a business. There are no licensing requirements and there is no system for registration for background checking companies.”

Theresa Preg of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) says the the “Broken Records” report is exaggerated. Preg said that the report makes broad statements and claims that the screening industry is actually very well regulated. Preg said:

“The report makes very broad statements. Within the industry, the background screening industry is very highly regulated. There is no wild wild West – it’s regulated under the Federal Credit Reporting Act.”

The problem, according to Preg, comes when companies decide to use free online companies. Still Preg says that mistakes occur far less than stated in the report. Pregg said:

“There are occasions when there are mistakes. (But they occur) less than one percent (of the time).”

Have you ever had a background check done at work?