Background Report Error Lawyers

Has your employer or landlord turned you down for a job or apartment because of errors on your background report? Did the background report include information that did not belong to you? If so, we can help.

The Adkins Firm represents consumers in lawsuits who have been affected by background report errors. We have office locations in Nashville, Birmingham, Dallas, and Houston. We have also represented clients in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. under federal consumer protection laws.

Here are some of the types of background errors that we see:

  • Mixed files – information on the report belongs to someone with the same or similar name
  • Obsolete information – derogatory information, other than convictions, more than 7 years old
  • Outdated public records – judgments or liens paid, satisfied, withdrawn but reported as owing
  • Criminal history – charges reported as convictions when the charges were dismissed or convicted of lesser offense, sealed records (youth offender)
  • Reported as deceased

How Background Reports Work

Employers may perform a background check before hiring you. Landlords may run a background check before renting you an apartment or house. Employers and landlords may review your background report, but you have to give them your permission first. Background checks may include information about your employment, driving, criminal, tenant and credit history.

Traditional credit reports include information about your addresses, credit payment history and public records, such as bankruptcies, judgments and liens. Credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, and other companies who provide background information, sell your file to background reporting companies who, in turn, resell the information to employers and landlords. Employers use the reports to evaluate your job application and decide whether to hire you. Employers may also use the reports to decide whether to terminate you, promote you or re-assign you. Your employer, or potential employer must have your permission to review your background report. Consumers commonly complain  that they did not get a job because of incorrect criminal history contained in their file. This can be a sign of identity theft or mixed file when another person who has the same name or similar name.

Also, we receive complaints from consumers who are unable to rent an apartment or house because of background report errors, including  inaccurate rental payment history, eviction, criminal or sexual offender registry information. Landlords and management companies review your background report to determine whether to rent or lease an apartment or house to applicants. Background reports that have errors can keep you from being approved for housing.

Employer Requirements Under the FCRA

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the use of background reports for employment purposes. Under the FCRA, employers must get your permission before pulling your background report. If you do not get the job because of information contained in your background report, the FCRA triggers several duties of the employer.

The employer must provide you with

  1. A copy of the report
  2. A summary of your FCRA rights
  3. A pre-adverse action notice

There’s more – before an employer can ask for background reports about you, they must tell you that they may use the information to make a decision whether to give you a job. This notice requirement is independent of other employment documents, such as an employment application.

When an employer uses information from a background report to deny your application for employment or promotion, the employer must give you a copy of the report and a document called A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act before taking the adverse action. In other words, the employer cannot notify you that you did not get the job at the same time the employer tells you its decision was based on your report.

The background report and summary of rights provides consumers with the opportunity to explain or dispute any incorrect information in the background report before the employer turns you down for the job. Consumers should send a dispute letter to the credit reporting agency who provided the inaccurate information. If the information is corrected, the credit reporting agency must send the updated report to the employer, but only if you ask the bureau to!

When an employer takes an adverse action against you based on information in a background report, the employer must tell you either orally or in writing (electronic means is okay). The adverse action notice must include the following information:

  • Name, address and phone number of the company that supplied the background report.
  • Statement that the company that supplied the information didn’t make the decision to take the adverse action and can’t give you any specific reasons for it.
  • Notice of your right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information in your report and to get an additional free credit report from the company that supplied the background report information if you ask for it within 60 days.

When a company provides an employer with a background report that has negative public record information (tax liens, judgments, bankruptcies or criminal convictions), the company either has to tell you that it provided the information to the employer or it has to take special steps to make sure the information is accurate.

If you receive notification from a background reporting company that has provided negative public record information about you to an employer, you should have a chance to correct it or clarify the inaccurate information before the adverse decision is made. This may help you get (or keep) your job!

Liability of Employers and Landlords Under FCRA

When employers or background reporting agencies do not comply with the FCRA, you can sue them for money damages, individually or in a class action lawsuit. Under the FCRA, employers may be held liable for the following violations:

  • Failure to obtain an applicant’s permission before pulling credit report or other background report
  • Failure to provide the employee with adequate disclosures
  • Failure to provide pre-adverse action notices to tenant applicants or employees

Get in Touch

The Adkins Firm represents consumers with background report errors. You can trust our consumer protection attorneys to assist you with your FCRA case. Contact us to schedule a free case review.