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Do You Need Consent from A Job Applicant Before Running a Pre-Employment Background Check?

Pre-Employment Check Consent

Your company found a perfect candidate. Before you complete the hiring process, you’d like to screen them. So, do you need consent from a job applicant before running a pre-employment background check? In most cases, you do! Here’s what you should know.

You DO Need Consent If…

  • You Are Using a 3rd Party Provider
    When you conduct a background check with the help of another company, they are a third party. This includes both screening providers as well as online services. In these situations, the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA applies. The FCRA protects access to and the accuracy of personal data (not just credit checks as the name implies). The FCRA states an employer may NOT collect information through a third party without an individual’s written consent.
  • You Are Checking Private Records
    Even if you are gathering information directly, you still may require permission to view a candidate’s personal files. For example, school and military records are considered confidential. Similarly, the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) restricts access to DMV records.

You May Not Need Consent If…

  • You Are Collecting Information on Your Own
    If you are checking public records without the assistance of a third party, you can do so without an applicant’s permission. For instance, you could secretly call their former boss to verify their employment history. Although this practice is technically legal, it raises ethical and trust issues. Being upfront and honest with your future employees is a better policy.

Why Are There So Many Rules?

When you’re simply trying to pre-screen a candidate, all these rules seem excessive. However, they exist for a reason. Sometimes consumer reports aren’t accurate. This could be due to identity theft, name mix-ups or typos. The FCRA gives individuals the opportunity to contest and correct mistakes. After all, you don’t want to deny someone a job because of an erroneous report.

Are There Penalties for Ignoring Consent Policies?

Yes. In recent years, companies have paid more than $325 million for failing to comply with the FCRA. (CBS News, 2019) Businesses involved included major retailers like Amazon and Target plus several screening providers. Many of these lawsuits claimed companies neglected to obtain applicants’ written permission before conducting background checks.

What’s the Right Way to Run a Pre-Employment Background Check?

Before you begin the process, check for proper authorization. This means having the necessary paperwork, collecting the proper signatures and following up with applicants. If this seems overwhelming, a screening service can walk your through the process. Look for companies with Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) accreditation as they represent the highest industry standards.

Do You Need to Conduct Pre-Employment Background Checks in WNY?

Metrodata Services is here for you! As a PBSA accredited screening provider located in downtown Buffalo, we’ll help you run accurate and FCRA-compliant background checks. Learn more about all the services we have to offer today!

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