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                  What Cannot Be Examined As Part of A Background Check ?


While all the public records, personal testaments and online content can be used to develop a personal profile of potential and current employees, there is some information that cannot be legally used as part of a background check. 

Former employers may be asked about drug tests when it concerns a job that is regulated by the Department of Transportation.  Many employers have a policy to deal with a background check on a former employer.  A common policy is to verify employment dates, salary and some basic information of this nature.  Employees may be protected from false references in some states.  Personnel files may be reviewed and signed by the employee in some states.  State and federal personnel files may be protected from disclosure except for in some situations.

For some records, a person must give their permission.  Education records that concern discipline, finances, recommendations or transcripts may require permission before being released in many states. 

The retrieval of some information is tricky and not so straightforward.  While a reporting agency may not report about arrests made more than seven years before the date of entry request, it is illegal for employers to ask if there was ever an arrest.  In some states, people may be protected when general questions are considered illegal while specific questions that relate to the job may be asked instead.  Some states say that criminal convictions can be reported anytime. 

In some states, even though an arrest record is retrievable, it cannot be sought.  When there has been a conviction, is a pending trial or the person has been released from jail, the information may be used in a background check. 

In some states, a person's criminal record is not available unless the job is related to childcare facilities, law enforcement, security guard duties and public utilities.  Some companies offer criminal histories anyways.  Sometimes, these unregulated criminal histories can be incorrect or outdated.

An employer may check on whether a potential or current employer has filed claims with workers compensation.  Such information may be used to determine if someone has sustained an injury that lessens his or her desirability as an employee.  The medical information revealed or the fact that a claim was made cannot be used a person. 

The reportable information that is found in credit checks is variable depending on the state.  Under federal regulation, the following items cannot be used in a background check after seven years: collection accounts, civil suits, civil judgments, paid tax liens and records of arrest from the date of entry.  After ten years, reports of bankruptcy are not allowed.  

A person's credit report can say much about them to an employer.  An employer can make decision on how reliable a person is or whether the person is responsible enough to manage their finances well.  Even the absence of a credit history can adversely affect an employer's view on a person. 

If an employee wants to check on how reliable a person is, the employer can check their credit report.  Typical information that forms a credit report include medical payments, loan payments, a tenant history, check writing history, insurance history and an employment record. 

A credit report can provide the type of information that lets an employer decide whether the person is responsible enough to manage their financial affairs.  When a person has a bad credit report because the person does not pay rent regularly or leaves untended for long periods, an employer may not consider the person reliable or responsible. 

Another reason why employers find credit reports valuable is that contact information about former employers is included on the report.  With this information, an employer can verify any information that a person has provided on his or her resume or application.  These are typical reasons why an employer may be interested in credit reports even if the job does not include handling money as a duty. 

A person who does not use credit may be adversely affected by a credit report that informs an employer of this fact.  In such a case, an employer may be looking for someone with a report that records a history of paying bills in a timely manner.  An employer may look upon an absence of paying bills as being evidence of not having the responsibility or ability to do so.  This employer would be happier with a person with good credit and a history of prompt bill payment.  When an employer takes an adverse action on the absence of a credit history, the employer must notify the person with an adverse notice. 

Credit reports can be revealing to potential and current employers.  The information can determine whether you are hired, fired or not promoted.  It is important for consumers to check the accuracy of the information contained on consumer reports.  If a credit report is negative and correct, the person should do what they can do improve their credit rating.  This will improve their chances at getting work and moving ahead in their job.