Can Anybody Check Your Background Without Your Consent?Posted on: August 8, 2021 by Gavin Muirhead
You’re probably wondering what’s next after you aced your job interview. Things went well, but right before you left, they mentioned that they’ll be conducting “an extensive background check” to verify your resume and credentials.
You may start to think about the worst part of your past coming back up to haunt you, crippling your chances of obtaining the dream job you’ve always wanted. You don’t remember consenting to a background check, so the question lingers: Can your potential employer run a background check on you? Let’s look closer at this answer.
Rules for Employer Background Checks
Under federal law, employers are obligated to request your consent to a background check if using third-party sources. They must provide you with a consent form separate from your application. In the consent form, you must provide written consent acknowledging that you understand a check is being conducted on you and that the background check can have an effect on your employment decision.
These rules for running checks and using them in an employment decision were established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Third-party organizations include any and all service providers which produce information about an individual’s criminal records, credit reports, or other investigative reports that judge someone’s character.
What if I don’t consent to a background check?
Should you decline a background check, there are a few consequences that can work against you. Of course, having the protection of your privacy is an important right guaranteed by law, but employers may view picking you as a liability if they can’t conduct a background check before hiring you.
There are many reasons running background checks makes sense for employers; for instance, a job that requires a great amount of financial responsibility, such as a bank teller, calls for financially accountable individuals. This is something that can be inferred by reviewing an individual’s criminal and credit history.
Investigations Employers Can Do On Their Own
Depending on state law, employers might be able to conduct their own personal background checks on you without having to ask for your explicit consent. Calling past employers or checking whether you have a certain degree are forms of personally conducted investigations. These have their limits. An employer can’t request your full college transcripts or grade point average without your permission. They can only find out if you’ve completed a degree.
Viewing social media is also a legal type of personal background check companies can do without your written consent. So long as they conduct it themselves, they are not required to notify you that a check is being conducted. Some social media sites let users make account pages private from unauthorized viewers, which may help you keep your personal life private from potential employers.
Landlords looking to lease to new renters must ask for the tenant’s permission prior to requesting a consumer report from credit reporting agencies (CRA). They are also subject to the law created by the FCRA. Keep in mind, however, that some states have local rules that supersede this law. Be sure to check your state’s law if your new landlord ran a background check on you without asking for permission.
Can anyone run a background check on me?
The FCRA only applies to employers using third-party organizations to run background checks on prospective employees, which makes the rules for non-employers less restraining. There are a few instances someone may be running background checks on you without your knowledge.
Say you’ve met someone through an online dating service, and before meeting them, you want to be sure they are being truthful. Running a check is legally allowed. So if you suspect they are presenting a false identity, background checks are available.
You may want to run a background check on yourself. Knowing what can hinder your success is integral to a long successful career. You may be a reformed felon, suffer from a bad credit history, or have been involved in something that simply needs a proper explanation to a future employer. Running a background check on yourself allows you to prepare for speaking about it openly, potentially allowing that dream job to come to fruition with your honest approach towards your past.
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