The rules of the Fair Credit Reporting Act apply – at least as we usually talk about it on this website – to situations where an employer and a job seeker are involved. Are there other situations where you wouldn’t have to make sure you follow those rules? Yes! If you wanted to check out a prospective date or roommate, the FCRA rules don’t apply because we’re not talking about hiring anybody.
I saw an article online by Fox News that suggests that there are free ways to go about doing a background check on a prospective roommate or someone new you’re interested in dating. It’s not quite as simply as it might sound, however. To do any sort of accurate background check on somebody requires his or her full name, date of birth, and, ideally, a Social Security number.
Requesting that sort of information from a prospective date or campus roommate might be just a little awkward – obviously it fairly clearly suggests that you’re going to do a background check and implies that you really don’t quite trust that person very much.
On the other hand, chances are that there’s someone else out there with at least the same name and, perhaps, even the same birth date. You also run the risk that the person you might want to go out with that you found online hasn’t used his or her real name. So, you do a background check and nothing comes up. You’re home free, right? Nope! The risk is that the person has another name that just might show up with a criminal record that would make you want to run the opposite direction as fast as you can.
The only safe way to find out if someone you’re interested in dating or sharing a dorm room with is who he or she claims to be is to ask for the necessary information to do a real background check – full name, date of birth, at least. Awkward though it may be, this is another example of being safe rather than sorry.