According to Reuters, the U.S. Supreme court will hear a case on whether a California company willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by publishing false online data. On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived California resident Thomas Robin’s lawsuit accusing Spokeo Inc. of violating the FCRA by publishing a damaging online profile of him filled with inaccuracies. The defendant in this case is the Pasadena based data company Spokeo Inc. who publishes online profiles full of information they find in various databases.
Companies like this are behind some of the free or cheap background checks you may see advertised online. A free background check, or the equally non-compliant cheap background check are quick ways to get your company tied up in an FCRA lawsuit. Why? Data mining companies like this publish information about individuals online gathered from many sources including Facebook and Google Plus along with publicly available court and police records. These records and profiles are often full of inaccuracies and in this case Robins is bringing a class action lawsuit against the company that published them and the companies that provided this information.
One of the main reasons the US supreme court had the appeals court review this case was because they wanted to be sure that Robins “suffered “concrete and particularized” injury needed to justify a lawsuit.” In the case of an employment background check that injury would be the non-compliant denial of a job based on that information, but what’s the big problem here for employers? Isn’t that information just as good as what you get from a paid employee background check?
The big problem for employers? No one is verifying that information!
The problem for employers lies with online criminal record providers who publish aggregate criminal database records without verification at the local county court. Online databases are usually outdated and are never updated as quickly as the actual county criminal case documents. These two problems immediately violate one FCRA requirement which states that the data used for employee background reporting must be “the most recent available.” Only the county courts contain the accurate records, and a genuine instant nationwide search system does not exist for employment background screening.
Robins’ case drew support from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFIB), which stated Spokeo fell short of seeking “maximum possible accuracy.” The Federal Trade Commission or FTC enforces that law under the FCRA to protect against false information resulting in the denial of employment, credit or housing opportunities.
There is no way to verify the accuracy of online database criminal records like the ones provided by free or cheap criminal record searches. While it is legal to purchase online database criminal records, it is a direct violation of the FCRA to utilize those records to make an adverse hiring decision. In fact, an entire lawsuit industry is emerging where plaintiffs’ attorneys seek out candidates that have been denied these federal, and sometimes state, rights. Non-compliance with the FCRA is indefensible and fines beginning at $1,000.00 per claim in addition to damages mean your business could be seriously threatened by just one claim.
Spokeo Inc. may have a long legal battle ahead including huge fines, but you shouldn’t!
Quality employee background screening firms such as HireSafe take great care in verifying the accuracy of records prior to providing criminal record results. In fact, the FCRA dictates that consumer reporting agencies ensure the accuracy of their records and that companies allow potential employees time to dispute incorrect records under adverse action procedures. It’s compliance care like this that makes HireSafe different, we’ve been conducting compliant employment screening for over 20 years and you can trust our experience.
FCRA compliant and pay as you go employee background checks offer safety from the risk of huge fines and legal trouble at a small price. You can start by checking out our most popular employment background screening services. We’re a small family owned company based in California and allof our services are provided from within the US.