When it comes to background screening, there’s a lot to keep in mind—especially as the compliance landscape is constantly evolving. As your trusted partner, it’s our honor to provide ongoing guidance to help ensure you’re making informed, best practice, and fully compliant decisions when conducting background screens. To that end, this blog is the first of a three part series. This first part covers End Users and Permissible Purpose.
Compliance Guidance for End Users of Consumer Reports
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the primary legislation regulating the procurement and use of a consumer report. The requirements for End Users of consumer reports are explained in detail throughout the FCRA but can also be found in a simplified document required to be distributed by consumer reporting agencies entitled Notice to Users of Consumer Reports: Obligations of Users under the FCRA. Rounding out regulatory compliance for domestic consumer reporting are state and jurisdiction specific consumer reporting laws that add additional procedures and disclosures to the process.
Who is responsible in the background check process?
This can be a very confusing topic to employers who depend on background check reports to make hiring decisions. There is a popular belief that the background check company is solely responsible for the entire screening process. However, the reality is that the background check process is a shared responsibility between those that request consumer reports (End User) and those that compile the consumer report (Consumer Reporting Agency).
Permissible Purpose: Legal Uses of Consumer Reports
FCRA §604 requires that all End Users must have a permissible purpose under the FCRA to obtain a consumer report. There are a variety of consumer reports utilized by Society to make decisions regarding consumers, e.g., whether or not to lend the consumer money (credit); to provide an insurance policy (driving record); to provide a place to live (tenant screening); and for employment (background checks). A-Check Global is a consumer reporting agency specializing in providing consumer reports to End Users for the permissible purpose of employment.
The term “employment purposes” is defined by FCRA §603(d)(3)(C)(h) as a report used for the purpose of evaluating a consumer for employment, promotion, reassignment or retention as an employee. The Federal Trade Commission has expanded the definition of employee to also include Volunteers, Temps and Independent Contractors working in an “employment” type capacity. End users are required to contractually certify their compliance with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act with their provider as a condition of service being provided.
Next month, RESPONSIBLE BACKGROUND SCREENING Part Two will cover Disclosures and Authorizations.