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The Truth About Background Checks

When a prospective employer says they’ll run a background check before hiring you, it might seem like a scene from George Orwell’s 1984. Certainly, the idea that one entity has profiled you and knows everything about your history might seem a bit unsettling. Before you utter allegations that “Big Brother” is watching, here are a few things you need to know about employment background screening.

Background checks are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Under this law, companies must swear that they are ordering background checks solely for employment purposes and they have to give written notice to a candidate that such checks are to be done.

Even if the report turns up something negative about you, the employer can’t immediately take you out of the running. You’ll be given the chance to request a copy of the report from the screening company and contest the negative results they found. The screening agency must finish a reinvestigation within 30 days and update both you and the employer of any new results. Only then can the employer make a decision, and they must give a formal notice if they decide to pass on you.

Background checks help in confirming the following information: education, employment or license verification, credit history, criminal history, and driving records. Such checks are becoming staples of the pre-employment process, so don’t be afraid when an employer says they’ll be conducting one on you, okay?


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