Did you fail a First Advantage background check due to errors? We can help you recover!
Were you denied a job, housing, or other opportunity due to errors in your First Advantage (FADV) background check? When these unjust mistakes happen, it has adverse consequences for your financial and emotional well-being. Learn what your legal rights are, what FADV's legal obligations are, and how to dispute the errors and get back to good!
It's disheartening when you’ve been waiting for your First Advantage background check results only to find out that instead of passing, you have a First Advantage background check fail on your hands. But when you discover that the failure was due to errors in the FADV background check report, your response can quickly turn into genuine distress and anger. Being on the other end of this FADV unfairness is shocking and has outsized consequences for your financial health.
As a law firm focused on consumer protection, with a team of lawyers practicing nationwide, we have seen, heard, and handled every type of FADV erroneous information scenario imaginable. This means that not only have we helped thousands of clients restore their financial and emotional well-being after an unjust denial based on an inaccurate, misleading, or false FADV report, but we are prepared to help you, too- no matter what your situation entails.
First, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about First Advantage background checks, including the process, your legal rights, FADV’s legal obligations, how to dispute errors in your report, and how a skilled consumer attorney can help you repair your consumer profile, recover from the damages, and get compensation to make you whole again.
Then, call or contact one of our team members today. Our consultations are free, and if we take your FADV case, you’ll never pay anything out of pocket, ever.
About the First Advantage (FADV) Company
First Advantage is a company that offers various background check options, identity verifications, and compliance screenings to businesses in various industries, including residential tenant screenings, pre-employment and drug screenings, fingerprinting, and more.
When companies such as FADV buy, review, compile, and sell consumer data as reports, they are governed under various federal and state laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, these companies are called consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), and they are subject to a strict legal standard of care in how they source, review, and report this data.
Is a First Advantage background check legit? Absolutely. CRAs like FADV play a vital role in our consumer economy, providing valuable data that determines what types of jobs, housing, and financial products a consumer can access. Unfortunately, errors are common, but if you’re one of the unlucky consumers impacted by FADV errors, know that the FCRA gives you rights. Keep reading to learn more.
How Does First Advantage Conduct Background Checks?
Every First Advantage background check will begin with you granting affirmative consent to run the screening and prepare a report. Because these inquiries are typically the central decision-making factor in determining whether you have access to certain jobs, housing, or financial opportunities, the FCRA only allows FADV and other CRAs to run screenings on people who give express authorization for it.
Depending on the type of First Advantage background check you are undergoing, you will be asked to provide a certain degree of specific personal information, including identifying documentation.
Then, the First Advantage background check process involves FADV gathering (buying) information about you from various sources. These sources include data furnishers, which are the companies you have direct financial relationships with, such as credit card companies, service providers, home and auto lenders, and others. Other sources include third-party companies that scan municipal records (civil, criminal, tax, etc.) and federal databases (watchlists, immigration information, etc.) and sell the data to FADV and other CRAs.
The FADV background check report on you is a proprietary compilation and rendering of all of the information gathered (purchased) about you. FADV sells numerous consumer data products, and the search parameters are determined by the employer, property manager, or other entity that requested it.
How Long Does a Background Check from First Advantage (FADV) Take?
FADV does not advise a specific time frame to complete the First Advantage background check process. There are two primary reasons for this.
- First Advantage background check status depends on the inquiries undertaken for a given candidate. Some reviews are far more complex than others, or some screenings may just require more comprehensive review criteria.
- First Advantage background check delays occur. These typically result from a need to further refine information pertaining to a specific individual. For instance, if a candidate has a very common name or other very common data-driven characteristics, FADV may need to engage in a more detailed analysis to determine which information actually belongs to the candidate in question.
For these reasons, First Advantage background check results may take several days to several weeks.
What Information Does FADV Include in a Background Check?
An FADV background check report can include a broad spectrum of information depending on which specific screenings are requested by the employer, property manager, or other entity. Two common screenings are the First Advantage criminal background check and the First Advantage pre-employment screening.
Notably, state law may dictate the look-back period for certain criteria in a background check. So, your location can have an impact on determining the extent of the information included. Three of the most regulated areas of data at the state level are criminal history data, residential eviction data, and certain financial data, such as bankruptcy.
First Advantage Criminal Background Check
First Advantage offers criminal background screenings and post-employment criminal monitoring. Both rely on county, state, and federal databases to compile a criminal profile. Sex offender status and inclusion on any type of federal watchlist are reported. Arrests trigger the ongoing criminal monitoring service, so during your employment, if you are arrested at any point, a fresh FADV report will be compiled with details about the arrest and any subsequent action.
First Advantage Pre-Employment Background Check
First Advantage offers pre-employment background screenings for candidates across a wide scope of industries and sectors. For instance, specific inquiries are run for contractors, vendors, gig workers, executives, freelancers, etc.
The FADV report for job candidates is customizable and determined by the nature of the position and the employer's needs. It can include criminal history, employment, education, licensing, and identity verification; negative media searches; civil litigation and regulatory history; credit and financial profile, and more.
What are Your Rights Regarding a Background Check?
As explained above, FADV is a consumer reporting agency (CRA) under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Accordingly, in conjunction with comparable regulations at the state level, under the FCRA, you have certain legal rights, and FADV has certain legal obligations.
Among the rights afforded to you under the FCRA concerning background check reporting errors are the following:
- The right to only be subject to authorized background screenings. Your express consent must be obtained prior to any background reports being completed. Failure to obtain consent violates the FCRA and opens FADV to liability.
- The right to accurate information in your report and any ongoing ones generated based on your consumer data.
- The right to receive and review any consumer report run on you. FADV or any other CRA must provide you with a copy of any reports run using your data.
- The right to know which specific information in a given report was used to make an adverse decision regarding your application for employment, housing, or other opportunities.
- The right to request and review your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) annually for free. While this may not be relevant to every data dispute (such as a criminal conviction dispute) if your background screening reports errors in your rental or financial history, it is wise to review your credit profile in detail.
- The right to dispute inaccurate, misleading, or false data in your report. Because the inclusion of certain information is proscribed at the state level (for instance, a criminal history that pre-dates the state-regulated look-back period), in some instances, even the inclusion of factually accurate information can still be a violation of your rights.
- The right to file a lawsuit and seek error correction and compensation if you sustain financial, emotional, or other harm as a result of erroneous reporting, shoddy investigations, and the failure to correct mistakes. In addition, the false reporting of certain data can support a lawsuit even without having to demonstrate actual harm (such as marking a consumer as deceased when they are alive and well).
- The right to not incur any additional costs and expenses from the legal pursuit of error correction and compensation (e.g., filing a lawsuit to get the CRA to do the right thing).
What are FADV’s obligations when it comes to a background check?
Among the legal obligations placed on First Advantage and other CRAs are:
- The obligation to use a “reasonable procedure to assure maximum possible accuracy.” This corollary to your right to accurate information requires that FADV implement sufficient protocols and procedures to ensure that it is reporting accurate information about you.
- The obligation to provide a mechanism and opportunity to dispute FADV errors when reported.
- The obligation to undertake an adequate investigation into the accuracy of the disputed information. There are also statutory deadlines for how quickly and timely FADV must respond regarding disputed information once a dispute is initiated.
- The obligation to correct errors in FADV reporting.
- The obligation to compensate you for any financial and emotional harm suffered if you win a lawsuit against FADV.
- The obligation to pay for all of the legal costs and fees your attorneys incur in representing you in a lawsuit against FADV if you win the lawsuit.
Which Companies Use First Advantage (FADV) for Background Checks?
First Advantage does not publish a list of companies that use its services on its website. However, other companies that track trends and usage in the consumer data industry estimate that well over 1,000 companies and counting use FADV. Among the companies known to use FADV are Apple, Inc. and CitiGroup, Inc.
What Types of Background Checks Are They Using First Advantage For?
Because First Advantage offers a wide assortment of data-generated products, including multiple background screening options, it’s safe to say that companies are using FADV for criminal history profiles, pre-employment background checks, verifications, and much more.
However, generally, the companies that use FADV are typically:
- Property owners/landlords/property management companies: these entities use FADV to identify potential long-term tenants or short-term guests who may pose a risk of fraud, violence, other criminal behavior, or non-payment. It can be used to justify the cancelation of pre-existing rental reservations.
- Employers: these entities use FADV background reports to screen applicants and monitor employees.
Can Errors Occur in Background Checks from First Advantage?
Yes, absolutely. Errors can and do occur in background checks from First Advantage or any other company engaged in the for-profit consumer data industry.
What Causes Errors in Background Checks?
When CRAs like First Advantage pull from data streams to generate reports, errors occur for several reasons:
- Data Entry or Input Errors. These errors occur when information is input into a database. Mistakes include incorrect dates, birthdates, misspellings, etc.
- Mixed or Co-Mingled Files Errors. These errors occur when information from unaffiliated individuals is co-mingled into a single report. Faulty, insufficient, or unrefined algorithms gather information broadly (too broadly) and fail to adequately narrow the scope of the search to the correct individual, instead including information belonging to other people.
This type of error is also caused by reliance on algorithms for reviews that should be undertaken by humans. Cost-saving incentives drive CRAs like FADV to rely almost exclusively on machine-based relevancy assessments despite the fact that many data similarities could quickly and easily be resolved with human oversight and review.
- Identity Theft and Identity Fraud Errors. The fraternal twin crimes of identity theft (the illicit accessing of information belonging to another person) and identity fraud (the illicit use of information belonging to another person) can wreak havoc on a consumer profile, including generating substantial erroneous data content.
- Failure to Update Errors. When certain convictions are expunged (erased) after a period of time, municipal systems update their records to reflect this, but if FADV fails to update its system in a timely manner, then errors, inaccurate, misleading, and false data can be included. Though FADV is supposed to use measures to process and implement updates, they are frequently not utilized adequately or effectively.
Main Types of Errors
Just as the above situations are the usual causes of background check errors, regardless of which CRA generates the report, the way these errors tend to show up is also fairly universal, including:
- Transposition of digits in a Social Security Number
- Wrong or incomplete information in original documents
- Incorrect criminal records
- Outdated information (e.g., expunged convictions that were not updated)
- Mistaken identity resulting in unaffiliated criminal records being associated with the wrong person
- Information from Identity theft and fraud scenarios that is reported as accurate.
- Information from someone else in your report (including criminal, credit, financial, employment, housing, etc.).
How Often Do Errors Occur in Background Checks from FADV?
Industry-wide, data errors appear in consumer background check reports with regularity. The presence of errors is a common problem that impacts many thousands of consumers annually. In fact, a recent review found that one-third of consumers have discovered errors in credit reports. A third of Americans found errors on their credit reports. Here's how to fix those mistakes. (Credit reports are only one small piece of the consumer data industry and are included in many background check reports.)
What are the Consequences of Having Errors in Your Background Check Report?
Errors in a background check report tend to result in hiring and firing decisions and housing approvals or denials. So, inaccurate, misleading, and false information in a report can greatly impact these major life scenarios.
In addition, because of the enormous amount of companies using products from First Advantage, if it is reporting an error in some aspect of your background screening, this error can disrupt your ability to get or keep employment or housing broadly, not just with respect to a single opportunity.
Clearly, these errors can result in major financial and emotional damages for anyone suffering under the dark cloud of wrongful information.
You Can Contact First Advantage to Correct Errors in a Background Report
First Advantage is required by law to provide an error dispute process, and it does. The First Advantage background check dispute begins by inviting impacted consumers to dispute data errors via one of three methods: toll-free number, fax, email, or mail. All contact information is provided on the website.
First Advantage does not seem to provide an online error dispute platform, which we consider to be a good thing. Frequently, in order to use an online dispute platform, you have to waive your right to a lawsuit against the CRA. Since FADV doesn’t provide it as an option, there is less risk of accidentally, unknowingly, or prematurely waiving that right.
We recommend filing all error dispute letters and documentation via certified mail for the purposes of having irrefutable, signed, and dated receipts. However, regardless of which method you choose, always pay attention to the fine print and be certain that you are not doing (or omitting) anything that will harm your legal standing should you need to file a lawsuit.
Since we are a nationwide consumer protection law firm, you might dismiss this advice as self-interested since we help so many consumers seek economic justice through lawsuits against CRAs. But, regardless of whether you contact us today or you attempt to go it alone, our advice is the same. We see the frequency with which these disputes require lawsuits to be filed before FADV or other CRAs correct the errors, right the record, and repair the damages.
What to Do if You Do Not Receive Answers to Your Questions on the Background Report
Unfortunately, delays, stalls, roadblocks, and other dismissive tactics are common in consumer data error disputes with CRAs, including First Advantage background check disputes. If you follow the dispute procedures, provide all of the documentation, and haven’t heard back from First Advantage within thirty days, call our office for a free consultation to determine if a lawsuit is necessary to clear your name, restore your record, and reinvest yourself in the abundance of opportunities awaiting you.
You Can Sue First Advantage (FADV) if Your Report Contains Errors
Under the FCRA, if your First Advantage background check report contains errors and you have sustained demonstrable harm as a result, you are entitled to file a lawsuit to correct the errors and get compensation for your damages. In fact, some errors are so egregious you don’t even need to show financial and emotional harm to file a lawsuit and get compensation.
At Consumer Attorneys, one of our talented lawyers will be able to guide and advise you as to if and when a lawsuit is appropriate or required.
Who Can Help You Fix Errors in a First Advantage (FADV) Background Check Report?
You fix errors in a First Advantage report by doing the following:
- Contact a consumer protection attorney, such as those available nationwide at Consumer Attorneys. A skilled and experienced lawyer will be able to evaluate your case, advise you of your rights, explain FADV’s obligations, and walk you through the legal nuance of best defending yourself financially and emotionally. And if necessary, we will file a lawsuit on your behalf to correct the errors and get you compensation.
Importantly, we know the strategies FADV and other CRAs employ to get away with a “check the box” response to error investigation rather than an adequate response. And, because we know the full scope of applicable federal and state laws, we know which information constitutes an error, even if it is factually correct.
- Follow the explicit dispute process outlined by FADV. This will include a detailed error dispute letter and all necessary documentation to support your position that the information needs to be corrected or should not have been included.
- File a lawsuit. This is not always necessary or appropriate for every scenario, but it is also commonly required to get the CRA to conduct a genuine error investigation, correct the erroneous information, and get you back to good.
Lawsuits Against First Advantage (FADV)
Each year, consumers injured by reporting errors in First Advantage background checks are forced to file lawsuits against FADV in order to correct the record, repair the damage, and get compensation for the harm suffered. Notably, among the more common errors in FADV background checks pertain to a consumer’s criminal history (see below for case highlights).
At Consumer Attorneys, we’ve helped clients get their lives back to good when reckless data handling by FADV threatened their financial and emotional well-being.
Consumer Attorneys Case Highlights
False Criminal Record
When our client, Adrianna, applied for a job, she had no concerns about the required First Advantage pre-employment screening. Her confidence was justified since she had no criminal convictions and had passed a similar background screening for another employer. However, Adrianna was horrified to learn that she was denied the well-paying job due to a felony conviction listed in her FADV report. Even worse, the conviction being reported was for a sex-related offense committed against a minor. Even a cursory review of the data quickly revealed that it did not belong to Adrianna. Instead, it was criminal conviction information belonging to a person easily distinguishable from Adrianna by almost every identifying marker (first name, middle name, gender, social security number, etc.). We filed a lawsuit against FADV and obtained a settlement that corrected the errors, brought justice, and restored peace of mind.
Inaccurate Criminal Record
Our client, Tim, a military veteran with an honorable discharge, was offered and accepted an advantageous analyst position contingent on a successful background screening. However, he was ultimately denied the job due to the criminal history reported in a First Advantage background screening. FADV reported that three criminal charges were pending against Tim, though each had been resolved. One charge had been dismissed, one resulted in a not guilty verdict, and the final one was fully resolved. Had FADV used due diligence in its data handling and reporting, it would have correctly reported that Tim had no pending criminal charges. When Tim asked for our help, we filed a lawsuit against First Advantage, clearing the errors from his record and getting him compensation.
Ask for Our Help Now
With no out-of-pocket cost to you, there is nothing to lose in discussing your First Advantage background check reporting error with one of our skilled consumer protection lawyers.
From coast to coast, we’re right where you need us to be.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a First Advantage Background Check Take?
The shortest possible turnaround time for an FADV inquiry is generally 24-48 hours. However, several days is also fairly common. In addition, sometimes they can take up to several weeks. Any delays can feel long when you’re awaiting your First Advantage background check status. Still, these delays are usually only experienced when nuanced data needs to be subject to a more intricate review. For instance, the file for an applicant with a very common name may require greater attention to detail and conflict resolution to tease apart relevant and irrelevant information.
How do I know if I passed my background check with First Advantage?
You can request to receive a copy of your First Advantage report when it is complete. However, ultimately, you will only know if there’s a First Advantage background check fail or pass when your prospective employer or landlord informs you. This is because each employer and landlord (or property management company) makes a subjective decision about which elements are disqualifying. For instance, your FADV report may indicate a recent DUI. One employer may feel comfortable simply discussing this with you, and it may not be disqualifying. Another employer may consider this disqualifying in light of the specific position or the company’s needs more broadly.
How far back does a First Advantage background check go?
Applicants provide information for a seven-year look-back period. However, there are certain state laws that may pre-empt or limit the reporting of specific types of information in a seven-year period. For instance, some states limit eviction data to a five-year look-back period. If accurate information disqualifies you for a certain position or housing opportunity, it is still worth looking into whether such information should have been reported in the first place. Any information that is otherwise time-barred by state law constitutes an error if FADV includes it.
What does First Advantage check for?
There is no list of items that First Advantage checks for because employers and landlords (or property management companies) can individualize the criteria. However, generally speaking, FADV may include criminal history at the county, state, and federal level; watchlist and sex offender status; verifications for prior employment, education, licensing, and identity; negative media searches, civil litigation, and regulatory history; and credit and financial profiles.
What does “Record Judged” on a First Advantage background check?
This is a term used by First Advantage to simply denote that a particular element has been completed and is included in the report. In other words, it informs you that a certain category of information was searched, and the process is complete. Prior to this one, the preliminary status might show up as “Record Ordered,” which indicates that the requests have been sent to the appropriate sources for information on a given category (or element). So, this status does not indicate much beyond the fact that information was requested and received, and the category is complete.