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Candidate FAQs & Helpful Links
Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions & Helpful Links
Developed from our years in this business, Cisive has identified the most commonly asked questions from our candidates to create a resource for quick answers and helpful links .
- How do I request a copy of my background check report?
- How do I dispute the accuracy of my background check report?
- I applied for a job, how do I know if that company ran a background check on me?
- What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?
- What are my rights if a background check was run on me?
- If I have a criminal record, will I not be considered for the position?
- What’s usually included in a background check report?
- If I had a criminal record that was subsequently sealed or expunged, will it show up on a background report?
- If I had a record that was dismissed but not expunged, will it show up on a background check report?
You can request a copy of your report through our online form, by email, or by phone. Click here for more information on requesting a copy of your report.
You can dispute the contents of your background check report by using our online form, by email, or by phone. Click here for more information on disputing your report.
Before a prospective employer can order a background check on you, it has to tell you that it will do so through a proper disclosure and it also has to get your written permission. The forms that an applicant signs off on are commonly referred to as the “disclosure and authorization” forms. However, letting you know it will run a check as part of the hiring process and getting your permission in advance doesn’t always mean that the company will actually run a background check.
Depending on its hiring process, some companies may have all applicants fill out a consent form and receive a disclosure as one part of the application process. However, the company will only run the background check on the candidate(s) actually being considered for the position.
The other scenario involves the prospective employer only making a disclosure and obtaining consent once a conditional offer of employment has been made to the candidate.
An applicant can either ask the HR department directly or if it knows which background check company the prospective employer uses, it can ask the screening firm if a report was prepared.
The FCRA is a federal consumer protection statute that regulates consumer reports and ensures the accuracy and security of consumer information. The FCRA applies when an employer uses a third party to prepare the report. An employment background check is one type of consumer report. While the word “credit” is included in the name of the federal law, the FCRA does not only regulate credit reports. Credit reports are one type of consumer report. Most employment background checks do NOT contain credit reports.
Under the FCRA, the “consumer” refers to the subject of a background report. The “End-User” is the party that orders and uses the report to make a decision affecting the consumer (e.g. employment, tenancy, credit, etc.). In the employment context, the end-user is the prospective employer. And the background check company that prepares the report is a type of “consumer reporting agency” or CRA.
Under the FCRA, if a background check report was run on you, then you would have already received a proper written disclosure informing you of such and you would have already given written consent. If any part of the report was used to make a decision that resulted in you not getting the job, being terminated, not being allowed to volunteer, etc. then the company has to follow what’s referred to as the “adverse action” process.
This process involves letting you know that such an “adverse action” is the result of the background check report. The company does this by sending you a pre-adverse notice along with a copy of your background report and a document entitled “A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” Once you receive this notice, you should review your report and contact the company that prepared the report (their information is included in the Pre-adverse Notice) if any part of your report is inaccurate or incomplete. Once contacted by you about your dispute, the background check company must reinvestigate it at no cost and complete it under 30 days, but most likely it strives to complete the reinvestigation as quickly as possible so the company can move forward with a final hiring decision. Upon completing the reinvestigation, the background check company will update you, the consumer, and the company that ordered your report, on the outcome of the reinvestigation. The CRA will provide amended reports if changes were made; otherwise, it will confirm its original findings. The prospective employer would then make its hiring decision based on that new report.
Generally speaking, the presence of criminal history is not an automatic bar to employment. It truly depends on the company considering you for the position, and those prospective employers take a lot of things into consideration. In making its decision when there is criminal history, employers generally look to see if it relates to the position sought. The background check company does not know employers’ hiring standards and is not involved in the hiring decision.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued guidance to employers when evaluating an applicant’s criminal history in hiring and has advised employers to consider:
- The Nature and Gravity of the offense or conduct
- The Time that has passed since the offense, conduct and/or completion of the sentence
- The Nature of the job held or sought
In its 2012 Enforcement Guidance, the EEOC outlines additional considerations employers should take into account when an applicant does have criminal history.
The EEOC does not prohibit employers from running background checks.
The components of an employment background check vary depending on what the prospective employer or employer select as part of the background check package. This information may be based in part on any applicable legal requirements that may apply when an employer hires a particular position that requires a certain type of check. Generally speaking though, a prospective employer wants to confirm the education and employment credentials of the applicant. They also want to know if the individual has any criminal history that directly relates to the position they are being hired for, but more importantly, they want to be able to trust their new hire, so they are looking for honesty in the candidate. Other types of screening include checking if the individual has an active license that may be required for the position or if they are sanctioned or excluded from participating in federal or state programs.
If I had a criminal record that was subsequently sealed or expunged, will it show up on a background report?
Expunged and sealed records that have been removed from the county court would not appear on a criminal background check. Depending on the timing, there are instances when a defendant’s request for expungement has been signed and approved, but the court has not removed the record yet.
If I had a record that was dismissed but not expunged, will it show up on a background check report?
During a county court record search, dismissed records are located by the background check company. Dismissed records are referred to as non-convictions. Under the federal FCRA, a screening firm can report non-convictions for 7 years. However, certain states have more stringent restrictions that may not allow the reporting of non-conviction records. While inclusion of dismissed records in a report is legally permissible and accurately reflects the court record, the reality is that most employers do not consider them in their hiring decision because they are non-convictions.
The majority of employment background checks DO NOT contain credit checks. Employers typically only order credit checks on a report if they are hiring for a position that involves handling finances, access to financial or other sensitive information, etc. Additionally, a number of states have specific laws that limit when employers can order and use credit checks in hiring and employment. And when a credit check is included in an employment background check, it does NOT include a credit score.
What happens if a previous employer will not verify information about me or if a former company is out of business?
Lack of response from an employer results in an incomplete verification. There are only so many requests a CRA can make before the report must be closed. Whether it’s an unresponsive previous employer or a closed business, the result is a report with incomplete information that may not allow your prospective employer to quickly make a hiring decision about you. This is no fault of your own, but you may be able to provide information to help complete the verification. In such a scenario, you may be contacted by the screening company about these delays or about requests for additional information.
Access the links below for more information:
- Professional Background Screening Association -
PBSA is a non-profit trade organization established to promote a high level of ethics and performance standards for the screening industry. The PBSA mission is “to advance excellence in the screening profession.”
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
- A Summary of Your Rights under the FCRA
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- TransUnion Credit Report FAQ