Background Checks: What They Can and Can’t Ask You
When it comes to using a background check, it is important to know what type of information you will be able to find, as well as what is legally permissible. Educate yourself about what kind of information a background can offer you.
Cannot Ask: For Academic Transcripts and Criminal Background
People cannot access your academic records in most states unless you provide consent for them to do so. If they want access to these records, they will most likely ask you for an official copy of your college transcript and tell them to show or send it to them. In general, they also cannot ask for your criminal record if these records are not publicly available and if your criminal background is not relevant to the position. The laws regarding this vary substantially from state to state, but typically they can only access these records if they are related to your position or if you are applying to work in a "sensitive" field, such as childcare education or child therapy.
Cannot Ask: For Military and Medical Records
It is federally illegal for people to gain access or request your medical records. While they can ask questions about your ability to perform on-the-job tasks, they cannot discriminate against you because of a disability or specific medical condition. Publicly available military records can be used, but they cannot discriminate against you based on your military conduct.
Important Note about FCRA Compliance
According to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, (FCRA, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.) a consumer reporting agency must be compliant. This is related to, but not limited to inquiries into public records, criminal records, or screening. If using a Background Check services that is not FCRA compliant, no decisions about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other related purposes may be done.