FCRA Guidlines

Note: The source of the following information is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.

If you’re worried about who can access information in your file, take comfort: “Access to your file is limited,” according to the FCRA. More specifically, “a consumer reporting agency may provide information about you only to people with a valid need—usually to consider an application for credit, insurer, employer, landlord, or other business.” Actually, that’s a pretty broad range of people, but then you’re the one who initiates the process by applying for credit, insurance, a job, or an apartment. In this particular context, all we’re concerned about are employers. Please recall that the job seeker has to give the prospective employer permission to do a background and reference check in order for the process to begin. Stated another way, what’s in your file is only disclosed to those “with a valid need for access.”

This next point has been covered earlier, but just to be on the safe side: “You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers.” I believe we know this by now. The prospective employer tells the job seeker they do a background and/or reference check on all prospective employees. But for that to happen the job seeker has to give his express permission for the checks to be done (and, frankly, to also provide basic information to the prospective employer in order for the checks to be done—things that are usually found on a well-done resume, such as name, address, contact information, work history, educational qualifications, and the names of work-related references and how to reach them). If the employer wants to move to the next step—checking to see of the job seeker is all he claims to be and can do all he claims he can—it’s up to the job seeker to give the prospective employer permission to have somebody do the checks.

This next item doesn’t have much to do with the hiring process, but just for the sake of thoroughness, here’s what it’s about: “You may limit ‘prescreened’ offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report.” When you receive unsolicited “prescreened” offers for insurance or credit, a toll-free telephone number must be provided so you can have them remove your name and address from the lists from which offers like these are based, if you so choose.