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Screening apps under fire from FTC

Feb 10, 2012 Matt Roesly

Six companies that market background screening mobile apps recently received warning letters from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission FTC, urging them to ensure they're not violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The makers, some of which offer access to police records, criminal pages and people searchers, are subject to fines of up to $3,500 per violation if it's discovered that rights are being placed at risk, Network World reports. "Employers are likely to use such criminal histories when screening job applicants," the FTC letter said. "If you have reason to believe that your reports are being used for employment or other FCRA purposes, you and your customers who are using the reports for such purposes must comply with the FCRA." The FCRA is intended to protect the privacy of consumer report information and ensure data supplied by reporting agencies is accurate. These agencies are required to take "reasonable steps" to make sure the data they sell or tell employers is not falsified. A mistake caused by one of these apps could result in a lost job as the result of an employee background screening or an eviction after a tenant background screening.