News & Resources

Employment harder for those with inaccurate background check data

Apr 19, 2012 Philip Burgess

With the economy strengthening and more companies restarting the hiring process, employers may want to investigate job applicants' histories with an identity validation solution to ensure they would be a reliable and trustworthy hires. However, if the background check data is wrong, companies could inadvertently make misinformed decisions. The new "Broken Records" report from the National Consumer Law Center found that criminal background check errors are creating challenges and dangers for businesses and consumers alike. The researchers note that approximately 93 percent of companies will run a criminal background check on a select number of applicants, and 73 percent of employers investigate histories for every prospect. While almost 25 percent of U.S. adults have something on their record, "many additional people without a criminal record are wrongly tagged as having a record," the NCLC found. They note that this is an industry-wide issues, and that some of the most common errors include missing information about a case (such as being arrested but cleared of charges), duplicate names and misleading information. "These reports really should be accurate. Unfortunately, too often, what we found is, they're not," Persis Yu, an NCLC staff attorney who worked on the study, told Herb Weisbaum, MSNBC's "ConsumerMan." The Associated Press notes that because of mistaken identities or inaccuracies in background reports, more unemployed people are having a difficult time landing jobs. Yu said in an interview with the AP that employers may be confused by the vast number of options for obtaining a criminal history. The National Association of Professional Background Screeeners issued a statement to MSNBC in defense of Consumer Reporting Agencies that are its members. The group's head, Theresa Preg, noted they have "a very, very low error rate." "The member companies of NAPBS help put millions of people to work, including ex-offenders," Preg said, as quoted by MSNBC. "We also help consumers correct misinformation that may be contained on them at the actual courts or law enforcement agencies, as well as any incorrect criminal history information that may have been contained in a consumer report." In cases where an employee commits fraud, businesses could be putting themselves at risk for a damaged commercial credit report. It's vital to ensure a background check provider is reliable and thorough.