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Do You Need an Applicant’s Consent Before Conducting a Background Check?

Consent for Background Check in Buffalo NY

If you are running a pre-employment background check, asking for a candidate’s approval may seem like an unnecessary extra stepDo you really need consent? In most cases, the answer is YES. 

The right pre-employment screening company in Buffalo, NY can help you navigate all the rules and regulations

You Need Consent If You Are Using a Third Party

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) defines a background check as a consumer report. And, according to the law, your organization must ask the applicant’s permission when you request this information from a third-party such as a background screening provider. (Online services count as third parties too.) These regulations apply to standard servicesincluding criminal record searches and credit reports, as well as investigative reports where personal interviews are used to judge someone’s character.  

To follow the rules, you must provide a written notice telling the applicant the background check may influence employment decisions. This notice should be separate from the application, and the candidate must give written permission before you begin. Reputable screening companies will walk you through this process. If they don’t happen to mention consent formslook for another provider! Organizations who fail to comply with the FCRA can open themselves to lawsuits even if the screening company was at fault. 

These regulations may seem excessive, but they are in place to protect everyone. Sometimes reports contain incorrect information. And, no one wants to lose a job (or a top candidate) because of a mistake. The FCRA ensures individuals can view the results of a background check and dispute errors.    

You Need ConsenIf You Are Investigating Academic or Military Records

School records are confidential. Education institutions should not release this information without the former student’s permission. The military only discloses limited information, such as name, rank and awards, without consent.  

You Don’t Need Consent If You Are Personally Conducting the Investigation

When you are making inquiries on your own (not through a company or online service), technically, you don’t need to ask permission. For example, you could call a former employer without telling the candidate. However, this isn’t the best policy. Doing a background check without the candidate’s knowledge can be illegal, and it’s unethical and immoralIt’s a bad way to start off a relationship. (U.S. News & World Report, 2018) 

Finally, all U.S. businesses must abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is a federal law. However, state, local and industry regulations may apply alsoMake sure your company knows all the rules before launching a background check. 

Does Your Company Need Help with Pre-Employment Screening?

If background check rules and regulations are driving you crazy, consider partnering with a leading full-service provider. Metrodata Services assists over 600 businesses in both Western New York and nationwideLearn more about the products we offer today! 

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