Background Checks – Read the Fine Print

Probably each time you’ve applied for a job, you’re asked to sign a package of documents. It may even be online, where you’re simply asked to ‘docusign’ what you see on a screen.

If you can, you might want to consider asking to obtain a complete copy of everything you sign. If possible, you might ask if that’s possible even before you first start signing. That way, later on, if HR says you signed something, you’ll have your own copy with which to compare anything you’re shown.

One of the things you might be asked to sign, might be an authorization for the company to do a background check on you. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) limits how that can be done. Disclosures about obtaining a background check are supposed to be a stand-alone document so as to not confuse the applicant.

Prospective employees need to watch out for when a company not only asks for permission to search out criminal history but also seeks permission to inquire from other people, schools, companies and businesses. The FCRA requires that employers seeking those things must tell applicants via clear, conspicuous disclosures contained in separate forms.

Would you want to agree that a company could get your permission – in writing – that you authorized anyone at all to give up what might be private information?

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