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How SecurTest Complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act? SecurTest is in the business of compiling background information for employment and other purposes, and as such is covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA.)  This information will develop how we follow reasonable procedures to assure accuracy of our reports, getting required certifications or FCRA mandated authorizations from our clients and the subjects of the background reports, and complying with other FCRA provisions. Thousands of employers turn to us for information about job applicants, current employees, contractors, vendors, access control privileges, and other lawful reasons for a background investigation.  The FCRA applies to both SecurTest and our clients’ use of our background reports, as SecurTest is a “consumer reporting agency” covered by the FCRA.  When is an employment background screening company a “consumer reporting agency”? Background screening reports are “consumer reports” under the FCRA when they serve as a factor in determining a person’s eligibility for employment, credit, insurance, housing, or other purposes and they include information “bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living.” Companies that sell or provide those reports are “consumer reporting agencies” under the FCRA.  What does the FCRA require? Follow reasonable procedures to assure accuracy. Among other things, the FCRA requires us to establish and follow “reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates.”  Certain practices may be indicators that a background screening company isn’t following reasonable procedures. For example, if a report lists criminal convictions for people other than the applicant or employee – for instance, a person with a middle name or date of birth different from the applicant’s – that raises FCRA compliance concerns. Other indications that a company’s procedures might not be reasonable include screening reports with multiple entries for the same offense or that list criminal records that have been expunged or otherwise sealed.             How does SecurTest assure accuracy?  SecurTest uses a multifaceted approach.  Here are a few highlights:
  1. We do not rely on commercial databases as an authoritative source.
  2. We verify records found in commercial databases with the source of the record, such as the clerk of the courts.
  3. Our clients use our triple-patented iReviewNow, which allows the subject of the report to contemporaneously review it for accuracy.  No other background screening provider has this patented solution. 
Get certifications from our clientsSecurTest may provide consumer reports only to those with a specific permissible purpose, like employment. We verify that our clients are legitimate and get them to certify that they will use the reports only for employment purposes in our Professional Services Agreement.               In addition, the FCRA gives job applicants and employees the right to know that information about them is being reported to employers or potential employers. Therefore, we require our clients get certifications, signed Authorizations that are transmitted to SecurTest, or attest that: 
  1. The employer notified the applicant and got the applicant’s written permission to get a background report;
  2. The employer will comply with the FCRA’s requirements; and
  3. The employer won’t discriminate against the applicant or employee, or otherwise misuse the information in violation of federal or state equal opportunity laws or regulations.
We provide our clients with information about the FCRAThe FCRA requires us to provide our clients with information about their responsibilities under the statute (Notice to Users of Consumer Reports) and a summary of consumer rights under the FCRA (A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act), which we provide with the background screening report or before providing a report. These are standard documents available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and SecurTest.   Honor the rights of applicants and employees.  The FCRA gives consumers certain rights with which our clients and SecurTest must comply. Thus, the importance of our clients and the consumers (subjects of the reports) using our patented iReviewNow is self-evident.  For example, you must give subjects access to their files when they ask for them, conduct a reasonable investigation when they dispute the accuracy of information, and give them written notice of the results of investigations. It’s a violation of the FCRA not to respond in a timely way to consumers’ inquiries and disputes. Another FCRA violation: creating unreasonable obstacles for consumers trying to exercise their rights under the FCRA. SecurTest, not only uses iReviewNow, but also has a consumer-friendly support center that encourages forward facing contact.  We treat the consumer as if they are our best customers, because delivering accurate background reports makes them so. What if background screening reports include public record information? The FCRA has special provisions if reports contain public record information – for example, courthouse records – and are used for employment purposes. Where SecurTest reports include public record information in the reports we provide for employment purposes, the law gives us two choices: (1) Notify the person who is the subject of the report when public record information is being reported; or (2) Maintain what the FCRA calls “strict procedures” designed to ensure that reported public record data is complete and up to date.  SecurTest uses a first-in-class by using both methods. We notify the person and maintain strict procedures to ensure the public record is complete and up to date. Why Consumer Authorizations are worded using about character, general reputation, and mode of living? The FCRA has strict procedures for the subject of the report’s consent. The Federal Trade Commission, along with numerous court cases, has long adopted the use of language including “consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living.”  Thus, we encourage you to adopt the FCRA mandated language. We work with your legal counsel to help ensure the authorizations meet the letter and intent of the FCRA. Where can I find citations to relevant portions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act? Here are cites to some of the FCRA provisions mentioned in this publication. 

CITATION

FCRA SECTION

FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT PROVISION

15 U.S.C. § 1681a(d)

Section 603

Definition of a “consumer report”

15 U.S.C. § 1681a(h)

Section 603

Definition of “employment purposes”

15 U.S.C. § 1681b(a)(3)(B)

Section 604

Permissible purpose for consumer reports

15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(1)(A)

Section 604

Certifications from employers as a condition of furnishing and using consumer reports for employment purposes

15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(1)(B)

Section 604

Provision of summary of consumer rights to employers as a condition of furnishing and using consumer reports for employment purposes

15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)

Section 604

Required disclosures before employers can get an applicant’s or employee’s consumer report

15 U.S.C. § 1681c

Section 605

Information excluded from consumer reports

15 U.S.C. § 1681e(a)

Section 607

Required user identity verification and permissible purpose certification

15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b)

Section 607

Consumer reporting agencies’ obligation to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of information

15 U.S.C. § 1681e(d)

Section 607

Required notice of user responsibilities

15 U.S.C. § 1681g(a)

Section 609

Consumer reporting agencies’ obligation to disclose to consumers all information in their file

15 U.S.C. § 1681g(c)(2)

Section 609

Consumer reporting agencies’ obligation to provide consumers with a summary of rights

15 U.S.C. § 1681h

Section 610

Form of disclosure to consumers of their file

15 U.S.C. § 1681i

Section 611

Consumers’ right to challenge information they believe is inaccurate and consumer reporting agencies’ obligation to reinvestigate

15 U.S.C. § 1681j

Section 612

Charges for disclosures to consumers of information in their files

15 U.S.C. § 1681k

Section 613

Requirements when reports include public record information used for employment purposes, including “strict procedures” to follow to ensure information is complete and up to date

  Resources for Business To find out more about federal laws relating to background reports, visit business.ftc.gov, or call the FTC toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. For specific information on employment background reports, read:
  1. Using Consumer Reports: What Employers Need to Know
  2. Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know (a joint publication of the FTC and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) 
This article has been developed using the following FTC link: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/what-employment-background-screening-companies-need-know-about About SecurTest Since 1978, SecurTest has been the leading provider of accurate background reports and biographical questionnaires, both of which give employers the facts they need to make wise hiring choices. iReviewNow helps identify quality applicants, employees, vendors, government clearances, and consumers, while helping companies mitigate risks and navigate challenging EEOC and FCRA regulations. For more information on iReviewNow, please visit www.securtest.com or call 800-445-8001.   About the Author: Steven C. Millwee, CPP Steve is the founder, president, and CEO of SecurTest.  Since launching the company on August 22, 1978, he has proven himself a leader in the background screening industry. Formerly with the FBI, former head of the unsolved murder unit of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, and a past president of ASIS, his peers consider him an industry icon in background screening, workplace violence prevention and intervention, and security. He invented the patented iReviewNow System, and designed over 330 tests that screen applicants or employees for admitted behaviors.


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