Background checks are a normal part of life. Yet, sometimes they come back with errors. You have the right to dispute the background check, even suing for harm done if you lost a job, financial allowance, or housing opportunity due to a mistake.
Common Background Check Errors
These are the three most common types of background check errors:
- Incorrect criminal records – Plenty of people have the same name or ones that could get mixed up. Yet, it’s the background check company’s job to do the research and make sure that they’re attributing the crime to the correct person.
- Outdated information – Bankruptcy, foreclosures, and certain small crimes should only stay on your background check for so long. Take the time to check the appropriate timeline for anything outdated. Make sure that if there's a flag, the offending incident isn’t expired.
- Mistaken or stolen identity – This happens quite often. Someone’s entire criminal history could get put onto your background file.
How To Dispute Errors On Your Background Check?
Your potential employer did their duty and notified you of your failed background check. The first thing you should do (if you find an error) is to notify the employer (or landlord, or loan company).
Let them know that you will begin the process of getting the error corrected immediately. Ask them for an extension on your offer of employment, housing, or financial help. They aren’t required to do so, but it can’t hurt to ask.
How do you dispute a failed background check, though? Usually, the reporting companies have a website section where you can upload documents that prove an error, out of date, or a case of mistaken identity. It’s also possible to send these documents in via mail or call the service on the phone.
If you want to cover your bases—and try to get things moving—you should do these three things.
- Upload documents online,
- Follow up with a phone call, and
- Let the reporting agency know that you’ll be sending in tangible copies of your paperwork through certified mail.
Note: If you’re sending in paperwork through the mail, never send the originals! You may not get them back. Always send copies.
How Long Does It Take To Dispute These Errors?
Background check companies have 30 days from notification of an error to remove that error from your account.
Ask the company to send a revised, clean copy to the agency, employer, or person who requested the background check in the first place. The should also send it to any place that has requested a background check on you in the last two years. Then, you have the right to another copy within the next 60 days.
What Are Your Rights Under the FCRA?
The FCRA stands for the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This act ensures that all consumers have background checks and credit reports with accurate, true, timely information.
- Whenever someone runs a background check on you and a flag comes up (or they deny you based on information found in your report), that agency must notify you.
- You have the right to a copy of your background check at any time.
- You can dispute any and all errors that appear.
- The background check company must remove any errors within 30 days.
- Any company, including potential employers, must have your written permission to run a background check on you.
- If a background check company or consumer reporting agency is in violation of the FCRA or has put errors onto your file, you can seek compensation.
Can You Sue Over Background Check Errors?
You are fully within your rights to sue a credit reporting company over errors in your background check. It is their responsibility to make sure everything that they are listing on someone’s background check is true, timely, and applies to that exact individual.
The reporting agency must be able to prove that anything they have in a report does in fact belong to that person. If they can’t prove it, they have to take it off of the record.
If you’ve lost a job because of a failed background check, it’s important to hire a lawyer to help you receive damages from lost wages.
Wrapping It Up
You have the right to a clean, true background file. If there is harmful information in your file that doesn’t apply to you, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t get the job or housing you’re applying for!