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Applying for a job? It’s important to know what goes into your background screening reports

Employers not only use background screening reports to evaluate prospective job applicants for employment, but also to evaluate current employees for promotion, reassignment, or retention. Background screening companies provide an array of verification information such as credit history, employment, salary, and education and professional license verification to employers and others. They may also provide criminal arrest and conviction information; driving record information; drug and alcohol testing and health screening information; and non-profit and volunteer activity verification.

We recently released a report titled “Market Snapshot: Background Screening Reports: Criminal background checks in employment. ” The report provides an overview of the companies involved in the background screening industry and the process for requesting and providing reports.  It focuses on background screenings that include requests for criminal records checks, and also highlights: 

  • How background screening reports that include criminal history information are generated
  • How such screening reports are used by employers
  • Challenges related to accuracy and dispute resolution, and
  • Developments in the market

Read the background screening report .

We also have tools to help people navigate the background screening process when they are seeking employment and may be concerned about potential criminal record history information.  

Your Money, Your Goals toolkit

Our Your Money, Your Goals toolkit is a set of financial empowerment materials for organizations that help people meet their financial goals by increasing their knowledge, skills, and resources. It also includes the Focus on Reentry companion guide, which can be used when serving people facing challenges as a result of their criminal records. The background screening reports section of the guide includes a checklist and handouts with information about one’s rights with regard to consumer reports used for employment purposes. The Focus on Reentry guide is available to download for free. 

Consumer reporting companies list

We also publish a list of consumer reporting companies to provide you with information about where to access various types of consumer reports and tips for determining when they are relevant, such as when applying for employment.

Your rights when consumer reports are used for employment 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you certain rights and protections when it comes to the information in your background screening reports and how employers and others may use them.  State laws may provide additional protections.

Under federal law, you have the right to:

  • Receive prior notice: The employer must tell you that it might use information from the report to make a decision about your employment.
  • Give prior written consent: The employer must ask you for written permission before getting the report, except in the trucking industry where it generally also may be given by other means. You are not required to give permission; however, if you don’t, the employer may reject your application. 
  • Receive pre–adverse action report: Before taking any “adverse action” – such as not hiring or promoting you because of something in a background report - the employer must give you a copy of the report, and a document called “A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”  
If the employer takes action based on information in the report, they must notify you. You have the right to dispute information in the report. Read more in our handout

If you have an issue with information on a background screening report, you can submit a complaint with the consumer reporting agency that provided it. 

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