Human Resources professionals often make the assumption that their Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance is handled and/or monitored by another person, another department, or solely by the third party applicant background screening service. Simply assuming that you’re F.C.R.A compliant in your pre-employment screening processes can lead your company down a dangerous road. This road can end in steep Federal Trade Commission fines, or worse, a class action lawsuit.  

Do any of these common F.C.R.A. compliance misconceptions sound familiar at your organization?  If they do, your company may be at risk for compliance violations.

1. “We don’t run credit reports, so the Fair Credit Reporting Act doesn’t apply to us.”

2. “The background screening provider we contract with says THEY are Fair Credit Reporting Act compliant, which makes us compliant by default.”

3. “An applicant background check authorization should be part of, or attached to, your job application.”

4. “We don’t have to tell the applicant why they were not hired if our company is located in an employ at will or fire at will state.”

5. “We use an online database that provides us a nationwide criminal record search.  If a serious criminal record comes back on this report, we don’t hire the applicant.”

6. “We don’t hire anyone that has a criminal record in the last seven years.”

The bottom line is very simple.  If you’re not certain who handles what aspect of your F.C.R.A compliance, you’re probably not compliant one hundred percent of the time.  Ask your pre-employment screening provider for documentation defining their role in F.C.R.A compliance, as well as what is expected of your company, the end user.  You may be surprised to learn that simple steps are missing, or that basic compliance requirements are not being met.  If so, you’re not alone.  Nearly half of the Human Resource professionals we polled in an anonymous survey could not define their role in providing F.C.R.A. compliance while screening job applicants.

Don’t wait until you are legally obligated to provide documentation of your F.C.R.A. compliance procedures to a class action attorney.  A simple F.C.R.A checkup can help identify problems now and prevent serious legal issues down the road.  Now is the time to get your F.C.R.A compliance back on track!  For a basic compliance checklist, email or call 888.578.8600 x113.  We’re here to help.

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Brad Jones is a licensed investigator and President of Background Screening Consultants LLC.  Brad is an active member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners and serves on the Chicago Chamber of Commerce’s Workplace Well-being Committee.  For more information on applicant screening services, or a free F.C.R.A. Compliance Checklist, please call 888.578.8600 x113 or email