The FCRA and Privacy
What is the FCRA?
The FCRA is the abbreviated name for the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a U.S. federal law that was passed in 1970. It's designed to protect the personal and confidential information of individuals and to monitor the collection and use of any personal information of consumers gathered by the various agencies that collect and store this information.
These reports may include everything from social security numbers, birth dates, past and present addresses, driving history and other motor vehicle records, and criminal background information. These types of personal records are gathered by many different reporting agencies for a variety of reasons.
What Does This Mean?
This means that there's information people are not able to access about you, such as:
-Academic Transcripts and Criminal Background
One cannot access academic records in most states unless consent is provided. 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.
-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.
There are many background check service providers working within the FCRA guidelines to help successfully and fairly investigate through proper and efficient screening. This means that in order to make a decision, the research that a Background Check service provides falls within the federal regulations.
In our current times, the very real and detrimental crime of identity theft is happening at alarming rates around the country to countless unsuspecting individuals. In many instances it goes undetected by the consumer until complications suddenly arise. This is one of the many reasons protecting our personal information is priority for us as individuals, as well as for the FCRA.
The FCRA continues to aide in the prevention and early detection of such crimes against the consumer.
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 service provider that is not FCRA compliant, no decisions about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other related purposes may be done.