Background Check Errors

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Fix Inaccurate, Misleading, and False Information in a Background Check Report with a Skilled Background Check Lawyer.

If you’ve been turned down for employment, housing, vacation rentals, or other opportunities because of false claims in a background check report, then you understand the key role these checks play in our consumer economy and how impactful it is when things go wrong. Lawyers who sue background check companies are the legal gatekeepers between consumers and the industry that profits from consumer data.

Background check lawyers practice under the broad umbrella of consumer protection law (and sometimes employment law). They understand how to deal with information on an incorrect background report, how to protect consumer rights, hold the responsible parties accountable, and get you compensation.

I’ll explain what background checks are, what to do when wrongful data surfaces in your report, how to repair your reputation and restore your access to opportunities, what your legal rights are, what kind of compensation you may be entitled to, and how working with a background check attorney benefits you every step of the way.

What is a Background Check?

A background check is a comprehensive review of your consumer profile to assess your suitability for certain employment, housing, or other opportunities. Not every employer, landlord, or vacation rental requires one, but when they do, and it goes wrong, it can derail career, housing, and vacation plans in a flash.

Background checks can include your credit profile, criminal record, driving record, employment history, and education credentials. Generally, only those aspects that are relevant to the particular opportunity are included in the report.

How are background check reports compiled?

Background check reports are basically compiled through the purchase, review, and reporting of consumer data. Employers and property owners do not run background checks directly but hire other companies to complete them.

The reporting itself is done by companies called consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). These companies provide background check services to the employer or property owner. The CRAs gather and purchase data from companies called data furnishers. These are the companies you recognize, like your credit card company, bank, service providers, etc. There are also third-party companies that scan, gather, and sell the data from municipal records.

The CRAs use an algorithm to combine the data streams into a report about each consumer. Errors are frequent because of the vast network of data streams involved and the fact that neither data furnishers nor CRAs have the financial incentive to implement a level of review and filtering that would meaningfully diminish them.

Our Best Stories on Background Check Errors

Made Out to Be Unqualified

$110,000.00 win

Our client was happily earning income as an Uber driver for several years when a standard background check review was completed. The report, prepared by SambaSafety, erroneously stated that his license was disqualified. Though he allowed his commercial license to lapse years earlier because he no longer needed it, his regular driver’s license was valid and in good standing and is the only license required for ride-share work. This inaccurate reporting lead to Uber deactivation and a host of financial problems. With a $110,000 settlement, he was on track to regain control of his career.

Falsely Reported as a Terrorist!

$350,000.00 win

Our client thought he had a much-needed job locked up, even negotiating the best shift for the highest pay. But he was shocked to learn that the offer was being rescinded when his background check report from Sterling falsely indicated that he was a terrorist! The outrageousness of this error and the (understandable) response of his prospective employer caused our client a massive amount of emotional stress and trauma on top of his financial stress. It took our legal know-how to steer him toward a complete recovery and serious settlement.

Reported an Expunged Past

KM, from TX

KM works in the telecommunications industry, and when an opportunity for a high-paying job came his way, he jumped at the chance to get it. Despite all other factors falling nicely into place, KM was denied the position based on criminal charges reported in his HireRight background check. While the criminal charges were accurate, they were expunged from his record years prior and should not have been reported. Though KM convinced them to reconsider, this same wrongful reporting resurfaced later, preventing his advancement to an even better opportunity. We helped KM keep his career on track and get compensation.

Wrongfully Portrayed as a Murderer.

CF, from NY

CF was an active driver in the rideshare industry when he was subject to a Checkr background check in the course of his employment with Uber. When his background report erroneously identified him as a felon and murderer, Uber deactivated his account. Despite the fact that CF has zero criminal records, is easily distinguishable from the person whose criminal data was reported, and that Checkr had not included the data in prior reports on CF, it was included anyway. With our help, CF got back to work with a recovered reputation and significantly more money in his bank account.

Falsely Accused of Animal Abuse.

AJ, from NC

When AJ applied for a well-paying job that required a First Advantage background check, he had no worries. When the report came back with false information about pending criminal charges, he was devasted, especially given the disturbing nature of the charges, including counts of animal cruelty. AJ lost the job opportunity, suffered emotional and reputational harm, and was forced to devote time and effort to clearing the record. Even worse- the charges belonged to someone with a different first name, gender, SSN, and driver’s license number! We held First Advantage accountable and got a settlement to make AJ whole again.

What is an Employment Background Check?

One of the most common types of background checks that people are familiar with is the employment background check. There are two categories of employment-related background checks: pre-employment and ongoing.

  1. Pre-employment background checks. These can occur at any point during the pre-hiring process. Most frequently, they occur as a final step before an offer of employment is made or after you’ve accepted an offer contingent on passing a background check.
  2. Ongoing employment-based background checks. These are run throughout your career with certain employers.

There are several different scenarios in which someone might find themselves having to deal with an employment background check.

  • If you recently lost a job and are now in the market for a new one, you may be subject to some level of background review once you’ve accepted a new job.
  • If your employer suspects there is a problem with employees, they may subject everyone to a background check.
  • If you are entering or already in an industry that requires ongoing background checks.

Does the employer run the background check report?

No- employers do not run background checks. They hire other companies to run the report. This is important because it means that the employer is usually not liable for hiring or firing decisions based on employment background check report errors. This is true because it is reasonable for an employer to rely on the information provided in a report, even if there are employment background check errors.

So, if your background check for a job is wrong, if you accidentally gave the wrong employment on a background check, if your report shows an incorrect job title, or if your report is otherwise incorrect, your employer is not the responsible party- the background check company is.

Your employer can be liable if they provide the erroneous report to another company or for failing to give you notice of the employment-related background check and the opportunity to provide fully informed consent.

Periods of Unemployment

If you have periods of unemployment in your work history, you do not have to worry about things like, “Can employers see unemployment claims on my background check?” However, the lapse in employment may still be visible to an aware employer, so be prepared with thoughtful responses if any questions arise.

Fix Employment Background Check Errors

While it is possible that when your background check for a job is wrong, it may seem like you can’t get a job, these errors can be corrected. So, if you are wondering what to do when your background check says the employment is wrong, keep reading to learn how to fix an employment background check error.

What to Do If You Have Errors in Your Background Check

If you discover errors in your background check report (whether or not they result in a lost opportunity), you should dispute them. The process for disputing background check errors should generally involve these steps:

  1. Contact a background check lawyer. As soon as you know that errors exist in your background check report contact a background check attorney. You do not have to wait until you need to bring a lawsuit before you have a conversation with a background check lawyer. An attorney can offer meaningful legal guidance about the process you must undertake to revive your career and housing potential.
  2. Review your background check report. You are entitled to review a copy of any background check report run on you. Make a note of any errors in the reported information.
  3. Give notice of a dispute. Let the prospective employer, landlord, vacation rental owner, etc., know that the disqualifying information in your background check report is inaccurate, misleading, or false and that you are disputing it with the CRA that compiled the report. In some instances, this may be sufficient to prevent them from excluding you from consideration.

    Note that in employment background check law, if the wrongful background check is employment-related, you will dispute errors with the background check company. But you may be wondering, “What do I do if the background check company gave my potential employer wrong information?” The answer is that you will notify the employer that the information in your background check is incorrect, but you will file the employee background check error dispute with the background check company.

  4. Review your credit reports. Regardless of which information about you is being incorrectly reported, you should request and review your credit report from the three largest and most often utilized CRAs- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (collectively, the credit bureaus).

    The law entitles you to a free copy of your report from each credit bureau weekly. Only use the government-authorized website to request your free copies. You can do so at annualcreditreport.com, by phone at 877-322-8228, or by mailing the printable request form.

  5. File a dispute with the CRA. You should dispute the erroneous information directly with the CRA that included it in your background check report. Frequently, this involves providing information and supporting documentation.

    We do not recommend using any online dispute platforms the CRAs provide. Use of these platforms may require that you waive your right to bring a lawsuit. Certified mail is a great way to file your disputes, provide documentation, and preserve your legal rights.

  6. Work with a background check attorney. If you haven’t contacted a background check lawyer yet, you can still do so at any point during the dispute process. In fact, after filing a dispute and waiting for the resolution of the CRA investigation period, many consumers come to recognize that they could really benefit from working with a lawyer for background checks.

What Do Background Check Attorneys Do

Background check attorneys are advocates and litigators who work on behalf of their clients to secure a successful resolution. In other words, they:

  • Know the law when it comes to consumer rights. 
  • Provide guidance to help you know which parties are responsible and which steps to take at every level of the process.
  • Advise you on the best practices for protecting your legal rights and help mitigate the financial and emotional harm you (and your family) suffer.
  • File a background check lawsuit if the CRA or any other party fails to investigate and correct the mistakes in a timely, sufficient, and effective way.
  • Get you compensation for any financial and emotional harm you suffered. 

When Do I Need a Lawyer for a Background Report

At Consumer Attorneys, we recommend contacting background check lawyers as soon as you know that errors are being reported in your background check report. You typically find out about erroneous data when you are turned down or denied for employment, housing, or vacation rentals based on wrong information. So, usually, your first notice of a background check error is also your first notice that this error has done you harm.

For this reason, connecting with a skilled and knowledgeable consumer protection attorney right away can help save you time, frustration, and negative consequences down the road.

Employment Background Check Error Lawyers

Consumer protection lawyers are also employment background check error lawyers. So, if you’re wondering, “Can I sue for background check problems with mandatory employee screenings,” the answer is yes. An employment background check report errors lawyer can help to dispute wrong background check information and file a lawsuit for compensation.

Can I Handle Background Report Problems Without a Lawyer

You can handle background check errors alone, though we don’t recommend it. There is nothing that restricts you from representing yourself. However, since consumers tend to discover erroneous data at the same time that they discover the harm it caused, it is generally a good idea to work with an attorney.

Working with attorneys for background checks can help resolve this situation more quickly, effectively, and fully.

Errors in Your Background Report Our Attorneys Can Help With

At Consumer Attorneys, we can help with any instance of inaccurate, misleading, or false information in your background check report. This includes such things as:

  • Background check reports containing data about a different consumer. This happens when information is entered incorrectly into a database (think wrong birth dates, misspelled names, etc.) or the information from two unrelated consumers is co-mingled. The latter is a “mixed file” and is surprisingly common.
  • Wrong employers or dates listed.
  • Including sealed, expunged, or obsolete criminal records in a report.
  • Incomplete information being reported (e.g., omitting information about the disposition of a criminal or driving offense).
  • Displaying data in misleading ways (e.g., reporting a single arrest or incident multiple times).
  • Misclassifying the type of offense (e.g., classifying a misdemeanor as a felony).
  • Inaccurate dates that would otherwise have excluded certain information from inclusion in the background check in the first instance.

In addition, employers, CRAs, and data furnishers may also be liable if:

  • You weren’t informed in writing that a consumer report would be obtained for an employment check.
  • You never provided written authorization for the disclosure of the background check report.
  • You never received a copy of the background check report if any adverse action was taken relying on the report.

What You Need to Know Before Contacting Lawyers Who Sue Background Companies

Before contacting an attorney for background checks, you do not need to know anything beyond the fact that errors were reported in your background check report. You don’t need to know where the error originates from, why it is being reported, or the full extent of how you’ve been harmed.

Reach out to a lawyer for background reports, and they can guide you through the process of assessing and repairing the harm, filing a background check lawsuit if necessary, joining a class action (if appropriate), and getting you compensation.

This is also true when background check companies give wrong information to an actual or prospective employer following an employment-related background check. We recommend that you contact a lawyer who handles employment background check report errors as soon as you are made aware that a hiring or firing decision has been based on wrongful information in your report.

Compensation You will Get After Suing Background Check Company

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages make you financially and emotionally whole again after suffering harm. Punitive damages “punish” the company responsible for causing you financial or emotional harm.

Background Check Errors Lawyers Fees

At Consumer Attorneys, we know that sometimes you need to talk to a background check attorney before you know if you need one. This is why you will never pay out of pocket for a consultation with one of the background check lawyers at our firm.

You also won’t pay out of pocket for any of our legal services if we decide to represent you through your background check dispute. Under the FCRA, the companies we sue pay our costs and fees.

Trust Our Attorneys Who Handle Background Checks

With over seventy-five years of combined legal experience, the attorneys at Consumer Attorneys can help you defend a negative background check report based on inaccurate, misleading, or false information. So, if you need an attorney for a background check dispute, we are well-versed, richly experienced, and highly knowledgeable.

Contact Us When You Need a Background Check Lawyer

If you’ve been denied employment, housing, or other opportunities based on wrongful information in a background check report, Consumer Attorneys can help. There are several ways to reach us: call (+1-877-615-1725), email ([email protected]), fill out the online intake form, or use our virtual chat option.

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Background Check Errors

Daniel Cohen

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Carnell
New York
09/2022

If you have a mistake on your background report, Consumer Attorneys can help you correct your report and get your life back on track.

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David
Arizona
10/2022
David Story
C
Christina
New York
04/2023
Christina Story
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    Background Check Errors

    Did you lose out on a job, housing, or other opportunity due to inaccurate, misleading, or false information in a background check report? Not only is this unfair and upsetting, but it can also have broad financial consequences. We explain why it happens, how to fix it, what your rights are, and how a background check lawyer can help.

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