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How Background Checks Protect the Individual

In today's digital world - where information often is at the tip of our fingers in an instant - conducting a background check on an individual has never been easier.

The curious can Google a person's name and find out just about anything there is to know about that person that is part of a public domain. If a more detailed history is desired, there are a number of third-party agencies which will conduct a thorough background check for an agreed-upon fee.

There are three common types of background checks that are conducted:

As of January 2013, employers must revise their Summary of Rights forms to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA. The act is a federal law which stipulates the guidelines by which employers and other agencies can obtain information about an individual's credit history, personal character, reputation or other consumer-reported data. Employers who fail to comply with the new provisions risk being fined by the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the administration of FCRA. These rules are designed to protect the individual, who may be subject to a background check which results in false or misleading information which in turn can prevent hiring.

Businesses have a vested interest in protecting themselves and their employees, which is a major reason why 69 percent of all employers in the United States now require a background check as a pre-requisite for employment. An increase in negligent-hiring lawsuits has prompted the increase in the use of background checks by employers, who are legally responsible if an employee harms himself or someone else due to past issues which would have been revealed through a background check. By thoroughly reviewing the histories of all employees, employers are not only protecting themselves, but also others who work for them.

FCRA does not apply to individuals who are conducting a background check on another individual for personal reasons, such as looking into the criminal history of a romantic partner prior to dating. However, any report which reveals damaging information should be verified through a second source. As with other public records, there is always a chance of mistaken identity or other incorrect information being included in a background check.

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