Have You Been Denied Opportunities Due to an Incorrect Background Check?
In our digital era, information is quickly and easily shared – and this extends to personal data. Whether you’re applying for a job or looking for a rental property, it’s likely that your background will be checked. However, the problem arises when the information on your background screening is incorrect. Suddenly, you’re facing the loss of potential opportunities, often without even realizing why. Unfortunately, this is a common problem.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, errors in background checks can occur for a variety of reasons. These include similar names or social security numbers, identity theft, outdated records, or even administrative errors. Consequently, this can result in a background check that displays a false criminal record or incorrect personal information. Such errors can lead to being unfairly denied a job or a rental property.
But why is this a rampant issue?
Well, background check providers for employers are massive entities that process vast amounts of data daily. With thousands of reports generated, errors are inevitable, but that doesn’t make them excusable. Their sloppy matching procedures lead to common background check errors like mixed files, and reporting criminal charges as more serious than they really are.
So you are ready to file an incorrect background check lawsuit? Read on, its best to dispute it first, but never reach out to the background check company through their website or any electronic means.
The Road to Disputing – Navigating Through Background Check Errors
When faced with an inaccurate background check, it’s essential to understand how to effectively dispute the errors. Here, we unravel the steps you should take, and more importantly, how the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) can play a pivotal role in your dispute process.
- Understand the FCRA’s Role in Your Background Check Dispute
The FCRA is a federal law enacted to ensure the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. As part of its protective provisions, FCRA mandates that background check companies, formally known as consumer reporting agencies, are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in their reports.
- Don’t directly approach the background check company about the background report. It may seem counterintuitive, but you must remember that these companies often have their own dispute resolution processes, which may not always work in your favor. Do not log into their website or create an account with them. They have arbitration clauses to keep these cases out of court.
- Procure a Copy of the Report
As a first step, obtain the results of the background check report. This is critical since the FCRA grants you the right to receive a copy of any report that may result in an adverse action. You can get it from your employer, in fact your employer must give you a copy. Once you have this, review it carefully to identify any incorrect information.
- Identify All Errors and Document Everything
Background check errors can range from identity mix-ups to wrong criminal records or employment backgrounds. One of the biggest problems is sloppy matching, using your first and last names and your date of birth for a nationwide search. Another common problem on criminal background checks is misdemeanors reporting as felonies. It’s essential to identify these discrepancies and gather any documents that can validate your dispute.
- Lodge a Written Dispute
Once you’ve identified the errors and gathered documents, you can formally file a dispute. While this process might seem intimidating, remember the FCRA is on your side. Draft a letter detailing the inaccuracies found in your background check report and provide your supporting evidence. Send this to the screening companies involved, and keep a copy of all communications for your records.
- Alert Your Potential Employer
Inform your potential employer about the dispute process. The FCRA requires you be given an opportunity to correct inaccurate information before the employer makes a final decision. Transparency with your potential employer can help maintain trust and potentially save your job offer.
If all goes well, the background check companies should correct your report. But what happens if they don’t?
When to Consider Legal Action – FCRA Violations, Class Actions, and Lawsuits
In some instances, even after your dispute, the background check report remains unchanged. You may find yourself again facing the same inaccurate background check, potentially costing you opportunities. When background check companies fail to correct inaccurate information after a dispute, they may be violating the FCRA.
In such cases, you may be able to sue the reporting agency for statutory damages. If multiple individuals have experienced similar FCRA violations from the same company, a class action lawsuit might be appropriate.
While the idea of a lawsuit might seem daunting, remember this is a pathway to not only correct the inaccuracies in your report but also seek compensation for any damages you may have suffered.
Regardless of the route you take, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this process. Experienced legal assistance can be a vital ally in navigating through FCRA violations, potential lawsuits, and even a class action.
Seeking Legal Assistance – When and How to Find Help with an Inaccurate Background Report
Despite your best efforts trying to fix it, the background error may not get resolved through your dispute, or worse, you could find yourself dealing with a repeatedly incorrect background check. In such cases, you might need to consider filing a lawsuit.
A professional can help you navigate the complex legal landscape of consumer rights, specifically relating to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is designed to protect you, and if a background check company refuses to correct inaccurate information, they could be in violation of this Act, making you eligible for legal remedy.
At Clanton Law Office, we are aggressive advocates for individuals who have been denied opportunities due to incorrect background checks. We can guide you through the entire process, ensuring that your rights are upheld and that the false information is corrected.
Frequently Asked Questions
What specific steps should I take if my background check contains incorrect information?
If your background check contains incorrect information, you have the right to dispute it. The following are some specific steps to take:
- Obtain a copy of your background check report: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to a copy of the report if it has been used against you.
- Identify the inaccurate information: Go through the report thoroughly and make a note of all the inaccuracies you find.
- Gather evidence: Gather any documents or records that can help prove the inaccuracies in the report. This could be court records, identification documents, or any other relevant paperwork.
- Dispute the inaccuracies: Write a dispute letter to the background check company, clearly stating the inaccuracies in your report and providing evidence to support your claim. You can check out our guide on how to dispute errors on your background check report for more details.
- Copy to the relevant parties: Send a copy of your dispute letter to the company or landlord that requested the background check.
How long does it generally take for a dispute with a background check company to get resolved?
Under the FCRA, a background check company has 30 days to investigate and respond to your dispute once they receive it. However, this period can be extended by 15 days if the company receives new information from you during the investigation period.
What should I do if the background check company does not respond to my dispute?
If the background check company does not respond to your dispute within the specified time frame, or if they refuse to correct the inaccurate information, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit under the FCRA. It is crucial to seek advice from an experienced consumer protection attorney who can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process. Our team at Clanton Law Office is ready to assist you, reach out to us today.
Is there a specific format I should follow when writing a dispute letter for a background check error?
There isn’t a strict format for writing a dispute letter, but it’s crucial to ensure that your letter is clear, concise, and provides all the necessary information. Here are some guidelines:
- Identify yourself: Begin by clearly identifying yourself and stating the purpose of your letter.
- State the inaccuracies: Clearly state the inaccuracies you have found in your background check report.
- Provide evidence: Explain why the information is incorrect and provide any supporting documentation or evidence to support your claim.
- Request for correction or deletion: Ask the company to correct or delete the inaccurate information.
- Keep it professional: While you might be frustrated, it’s important to maintain a professional tone throughout the letter.
- Proofread and sign: Review your letter for any errors and sign it before sending it off.
For a more comprehensive guide on writing your dispute letter, you can refer to our guide on Clanton Law Office website.
What kind of documentation or evidence do I need to collect to support my dispute?
The type of documentation or evidence you’ll need to collect to support your dispute will depend on the nature of the inaccuracies in your background check. However, this may include:
- Court records: If there are inaccuracies related to criminal history or civil cases, court records can provide accurate information.
- Identification documents: These can help to dispute cases of mistaken identity or mixed credit files.
- Employment records: If your employment history is inaccurately reported, pay stubs, HR letters, or contracts can be useful.
- Educational records: If your education history is reported incorrectly, diplomas, transcripts, or letters from educational institutions can be beneficial.
Remember, it’s essential to keep copies of all correspondence and documentation related to the dispute process.
Can I still apply for jobs while my background check dispute is being resolved?
Yes, you can continue to apply for jobs while your dispute is being resolved. However, it’s important to note that potential employers may still receive the disputed report. If a potential employer requests a background check, you have the right to let them know about the dispute and provide any evidence that supports your claim.
What are my options if the inaccurate information remains even after the dispute process?
If the inaccurate information persists after the dispute process, you have the right to add a statement to your report explaining the dispute, as per the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
If the background check company refuses to correct the information or does not respond within the given time frame, you may have grounds for a lawsuit under the FCRA. It’s recommended to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss the details of your situation and explore your legal options. Our team at Clanton Law Office is always ready to assist you. Reach out to us today to get started.