Background Check

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Credit Reports

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Credit Reports

John Oliver on the Credit Reporting Industry

Earlier this month, HBO's John Oliver of Last Week Tonight did a segment on credit reports. The segment highlights studies which report major problems in the credit reporting industry. The studies reveal that credit reports contain a shocking number of errors. One study found that 25% of consumers had errors in their credit reports. That means that 1 and 4 credit reports have an error. The study further states that 1 and 20 credit reports contain sufficient errors that would make a consumer pay more for a car loan or a mortgage. Credit report errors vary by type and may be serious enough to deny an application for credit, housing or employment.

Background Checks | Employment Screening

Background Checks and the Federal Law

Employers obtain background checks (or consumer reports, commonly known as credit reports) to aid decision making when it comes to evaluating a consumer for employment, promotion, reassignment, or retention as an employee. Intelli Corp, HireSafe, HireRIght, Clarifacts, EmployeeScreenIQ, and Proforma are just a few of the many background check/employee screening companies that offer employers their services. When an employer conducts a background check, they may be provided with any of the following information about you:

  • Credit reports;
  • Criminal and civil records;
  • Social security number (trace and validation);
  • Employment verification;
  • Education verification;
  • Professional license verification;
  • Motor vehicle and driving records;
  • Military record verification; and
  • Workers’ compensation history.

Employer Agrees to $3M Employment Background Screening Class Action Settlement

K-Mart, in Pitt v. K-Mart Corp., Case No. 11-cv-00697, has reached a $3 million settlement in a class action lawsuit pending before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The class consisted of more than 64,000 job applicants who sued K-Mart for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”).  Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged they lost out on jobs without having a chance to challenge negative information reported to their prospective employers in background checks and that K-Mart failed to notify the job applicants they were rejected for employment because of the background checks.

Credit Reports and Employment Background Screening

One of the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) roles is to protect job applicants and employees against inaccurate information being reported to employers; because employers can access your credit report to make decisions regarding hiring, firing, promotion, reassignment, or retention. In addition to financial history, the consumer reports provided to employers consist of arrests, convictions, judgments, and bankruptcies. Recently, settlements have been reached in legal actions that have been brought against companies like Spoekeo, Inc. and HireRight Solutions, Inc. for failure to take reasonable measures to ensure the accuracy of consumer reports. Such failures resulted in inaccurate criminal history, belonging to someone other than the actual consumer being reported as if it was relating to the individual the report was requested for. Other failures included noncompliance with the FCRA rules and not ensuring the reports were used for only purposes provided by the law.