Credit Report Information With a Magnifying GlassShould a potential employer know if you have a criminal record or sketchy employment history? Probably. But when you are applying for a job—or are under review to continue employment or be promoted—an employer must get your permission before running a background check. When this rule is violated, you may have cause to sue the employer and the consumer reporting agency for damages.

What Employers Must Do To Request a Background Check

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) actually applies to more than just the credit bureaus who hold your personal financial information. It also protects your privacy from all consumer reporting agencies (CRA), including those who run background checks, drug tests, driving records, and employment history. Both the employer and the CRA can be sued when they violate your rights. If an employer fails to do any of the following, you may have grounds for a lawsuit:

Run A Background Check For A Permissible Reason 

Employers can run background checks on applicants to determine fitness for employment or to update information on current employees, but if they run a check for other reasons, they could be breaking the law.

Tell You They Are Going To Run A Background Check

The employer must tell you that they are going to run a background check in a stand-alone disclosure statement. In other words, it cannot be in a stack of documents or buried in a lengthy application or employee manual.

Get Your Written Consent 

Before an employer can run a background check, they need your signature granting consent. This may be a part of the disclosure statement, but cannot be combined with any other waivers or agreements.

Share The Results With You 

If the employer finds something bad in your background check, they are required to share it with you and allow you time to correct or clarify the findings before they make a final employment decision.

Inform You Of Your FCRA Rights 

You must be provided with a Fair Credit Reporting Act Summary of Rights.

Inform You Of Adverse Action 

If you are not hired or are fired because of information gathered in your background check, the employer must directly inform you of the decision.

Employers should be well aware of these requirements but often violate them. In fact, there has been a recent increase in class-action lawsuits against large employers based on these kinds of technical violations.

It Will Cost You Nothing to Ask Me If Your Rights Were Violated

If you think your FCRA rights were violated, fill out the contact form on this page and tell me a little bit about what happened. I will look into the situation and let you know if I can help. It may be something you can take care of on your own. If this is the case, you won’t owe me a dime. However, if a lawsuit is appropriate, I may be able to help. Get in touch today to find out! Call me at 855.982.2400 or contact me online.


Michael F. Cardoza, Esq.
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U.S. Marine & Consumer Financial Protection Attorney helping victims of ID theft and Credit Reporting errors.
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