National Criminal Database Inaccuracy


Filling an open position is a time consuming and a very costly endeavor, that’s why choosing the right candidate is so vitally important. You will screen, interview and background check all of your potentials but don’t make a crucial error. The idea of an in depth, convenient, all-encompassing national criminal database search is an attractive option, however, the accuracy of such a service is questionable at best. Before using a national criminal database service carefully review the following issues.

Not all counties and states will be included
The main selling factor behind a national criminal database search is obviously it’s ability to search the entire nation. One problem, not all states and counties sell their records. Imagine this scenario: you think you hired the perfect candidate only to find out the criminal database you employed doesn’t include a county or an entire state this candidate resided. That’s a mistake you don’t want to make.

Data accuracy
The data itself may not be accurate. For example, an error in data input or the possibility that a record was changed but not updated. Once again you are not receiving a complete, accurate picture.

New Laws are restricting access
Identify theft strikes approximately 15 million people per year and this staggering fact has motivated state legislatures to enact laws to protect consumers. These new laws limit access to information and this could equal an incomplete picture of a candidates past.

True national databases are only available to law enforcement
If you really want a true national database that is complete and accurate you must have the right credentials. In other words, unless you are with the FBI you aren’t accessing a true national database.

Data used in criminal database searches must be FCRA compliant
The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects consumers from being misrepresented in credit reports and background checks. In short, third party access to criminal databases is regulated by the FCRA so when weighing the option of using a national service keep this in mind.

History and Details of the FCRA

From receiving a job offer to getting a loan for a new car to securing a mortgage on a dream home, the information contained in your credit report can make or break your financial future. So ensuring that everything contained in your credit report is accurate and fair is vitally important. But what keeps credit reporting agencies in check? What protections do you have as a consumer that guarantees your credit report is accurate and private? Thankfully there is a law that safeguards consumers from inaccurate data in their credit reports and background checks but prior to 1970 that was not the case.

In 1970 the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was passed. This law was designed to promote the accuracy, fairness and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies. The FCRA features several provisions that protect consumers including but not limited to:

The right to receive your credit score
Your credit score will not only determine if you get a loan but how much interest you will pay if you secure it. There should be no guesswork when it comes to your credit score and under the FCRA there doesn’t have to be.

Remove outdated information
About a decade ago you forgot to make a payment on your new minivan but you noticed your credit report still shows this blemish. The FCRA requires reporting agencies to remove any outdated negative information that is more than 7 years old.

Full disclosure of your credit file
Just like your credit score, the information contained in your file is not out of your reach. In fact, since 2005 all consumers are entitled to one full free disclosure every 12 months.

Inform you when your credit file is used against you
Your resume is spotless and you thought the interview was a slam dunk, but you didn’t get the job. If your credit score was the reason you weren’t offered a position you have the right to know. Under the FCRA anyone who uses a consumer report to deny you a loan or employment must inform you.

Limit access to your details
Your neighbor can’t check your credit score for laughs and giggles and the reason why, the FCRA. The FCRA specifies who can access your credit information such as a landlord, potential employer or bank.

SCOTUS Makes History in Spokeo Inc. v. Robins

Monday, May 16, 2016 led to major developments regarding consumer limits in class action lawsuits. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled against Thomas Robins in the case Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, stating that class action lawsuits must carry proof of “concrete injury” in order to be valid.

The case arose as a result of Robins, a Virginia resident, filing a lawsuit against Spokeo, a “people search engine,” alleging that the company violated Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) guidelines by publishing inaccurate information about him that was available to employers. According to Robins, though the information Spokeo published made him look favorable in certain aspects, he claims that the misrepresentation of his educational and financial background hurt his employment opportunities and cost him money.

Currently, FCRA statutes entitle victims of violations akin to Robins’ to damages ranging from $100 – $1,000, and the entity responsible for such misrepresentations could sustain further legal consequences. SCOTUS decided that awarding a plaintiff a class action win based on procedural violations alone with no concrete evidence of harm is inappropriate compensation for technical errors. However, if an entity violates FCRA regulations by reporting inaccurate information and that information has a valid potential for harm, such an incident could warrant grounds for a class action suit.

The decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins may prohibit consumers from taking advantage of the legal system by going after affluent companies based on bare violations of federal acts alone, but the case opens up the problem of defining harm, particularly if the potential for harm can be grounds for a suit. SCOTUS’ decision seems to diminish a consumer class action free-for-all and require future suits to carry greater evidentiary weight. Pursuing confirmed damages of an entity’s violations wastes much less time than assessing whether or not violations were committed in the first place.

Though the outcome of Spokeo Inc. v. Robins requires further legal clarification, the decision unequivocally set a major precedent for future FCRA-related class action suits.

Tenant Screening Background Checks

You have a property that is going to be vacant in the very near future so saying you need a new tenant as soon as possible would be an understatement. Without a new tenant all of the costs involved in paying for the property falls squarely on your shoulders. But before you make a rash decision on the next occupant who will call your property home you should consider conducting a thorough, reliable background check.

Why perform a background check on potential renters? Obviously you want your property off the rental market as quickly as possible but if you choose a tenant that pays rent late, or not at all, you will be back to square one. Screening your potentials before they sign on the dotted line can save you a major headache in the future.

Additionally, individuals with a less than acceptable background can eventually become an issue for neighbors. As a property owner you fully understand many of those complaints will ultimately fall into your lap. Let’s not forget about your checking account, those tenants who have a checkered past are more likely to damage your property.

Tenants who do not pay rent or break too many rules will force you to make the dreaded eviction decision. No property owner wants the hassle of suffering through time consuming and money draining process of an eviction. Dealing with unruly occupants, who were not screened, will have you wishing you had conducted a time- and money-saving background check.

The first thought that might have crossed your mind: “Sure I understand that backgrounds checks are important but I don’t have time to wait around for a lengthy screening process.” The longer the property remains on the market the more money you lose. No one wants to lose incoming cash flow so when choosing a screening service make sure it is not only effective but also offers a quick turnaround.

That’s why it is paramount to choose a service that not only offers reliable results but provides them in a timely manner.

One last thing before you make that all-important decision. Have a list of criteria that potential tenants must meet that do not fall dangerously close to discrimination. Use the same methods for all of your renters to sidestep any legal ramifications.