As a prospective employer, if you order a background check–such as a credit or criminal background check–from a reporting company (someone like Barada Associates that is in the business of doing these sorts of checks), here’s what the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires before the check is done:
- Tell the applicant you might use the information for decisions about his or her employment. This notice must be in writing in a standalone format. The notification must be a separate document; it cannot be in or part of an employment application. Additional minor information, such as a brief description about the nature of a consumer report, may be included in the document–but only if it won’t confuse or detract from the notice.
- If the reporting company (called a CRA) will provide an “investigative report”–a reference report based on personal interviews–tell the applicant about his or her right to a description of the nature and scope of the investigation. In other words, before you request a report concerning the applicant’s character, general reputation, personal characteristics, lifestyle or job performance, the applicant has a right to know what you are going to ask and how deep you are going to probe.
- Obtain the applicant’s written permission to run a background check. This written permission can be part of the document mentioned in Item #1–the notification. However, if the prospective employer wants the authorization to cover background checks throughout the applicant’s employment history, the document must say so clearly and conspicuously.
- Certify to the company performing the check that you, the prospective employer:
- Notified the applicant and got his or her permission to get a background report.
- Complied with all FCRA requirements, and
- Won’t discriminate against the applicant or otherwise misuse the information in violation of federal or state equal opportunity laws or regulations.