A background check is a process of searching and compiling the employment history, commercial records, criminal records, and/or financial records of a person or organization. The legitimacy, frequency, and purpose of background checks vary between, industries, countries, and individuals. The method used to conduct a background check can also vary. For instance, a background check can involve personal references to comprehensive database searches. Also, there are several types of background checks.
The most common types – employee background checks are usually requested by employers for employment screening purposes, especially on job candidates seeking employment positions that demand a high level of security, confidentiality, and trust. Landlords, auto dealerships, mortgage lenders, and banks, among other financial services and lending companies also commonly require background checks of consumers.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (“ICRAA”) in California, employers and most other types of companies cannot run background checks without first obtaining permission from a consumer. The company obtaining the background check must also provide certain disclosures to the consumer prior to and following a background check, such as a notification and explanation as to why they want to conduct a background check. For example, if the jurisdiction is California, a state statement of consumer rights should be provided and employers must maintain the information collected confidentially for at least five years.
The importance of familiarizing yourself with the requirements for running legal background checks can’t be overlooked for obvious reasons.
There are very stiff penalties to companies who do not follow the statutes set forth in the FCRA and the ICRAA. More specifically, an individual consumer may bring forth a lawsuit for his or her actual damages suffered as a result of a company’s failure to follow the FCRA and ICRAA guidelines. Under FCRA, the court may award the consumer further damages of up to $1,000, in addition to the company also being required to pay the consumer’s attorneys’ fees and costs. ICRAA has even more stringent penalties: a consumer can sue for up to $10,000, as well as recovery of their court costs and attorney fees.
Below, you’ll find information on the various aspects of background check laws, and answers to commonly asked questions relating to background checks.
You will also find information on how to obtain a lawyer, which is something you will likely need to do if you are considering taking legal action against a company who performed a background check on you. A lawyer can assist in investigating and assessing your background check claims in advance of you taking any formal actions, such as filing a complaint in court. A majority of lawsuits, including background check claims, are resolved by settlement prior to a trial or arbitration award. Attorneys experienced in this field, such as Crosner Legal, can greatly help in guiding you to the best course of action, including timely settlement and maximum recovery of your claims.
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