Rampant Errors on Criminal Background Check Reports Are Still Preventing Consumers from Securing Jobs and Housing

Boston – Passing a criminal background check is a nearly universal prerequisite to securing a job or housing, yet employers and landlords are making decisions based on inaccurate reports. Broken Records Redux: How Errors by Criminal Background Check Companies Continue to Harm Consumers Seeking Jobs and Housing, a new report from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), finds that problems with accuracy in commercial criminal background check reports are still rampant. “Unfortunately, many background screening companies still seem to prioritize profit over accuracy, leading to reports that cost consumers’ jobs and housing,” said Ariel Nelson, National Consumer Law Center staff attorney and author of the report.

NCLC’s research reveals that background screening companies continue to generate criminal background check reports that:

– Mismatch the subject of the report with another person (e.g., listing criminal records belonging to someone else, often harming common-name consumers in particular);
– Include sealed or expunged records (e.g., listing a conviction that was legally removed from the public record);
– Omit information about how the case was resolved (e.g.., failing to report that charges were dismissed);
– Contain misleading information (e.g., listing a single charge multiple times); and/or
– Misclassify the offense reported (e.g., reporting a misdemeanor as a felony).

The background screening industry is now a multi-billion dollar industry, with about 94% of employers and about 90% of landlords using criminal background check reports to evaluate prospective employees and tenants. Yet there are still no registration requirements for background checking companies and no standardized criteria governing background checks.…Read more from the National Consumer Law Center. Read the full report here.