I recently applied to an apartment for my child as a co-signer.  As part of the process we had to go through a criminal background check.  It came back clean, but took a couple of days.  The paranoid lawyer in me wondered during the delay of hearing back if there was some sort of screw-up.

Unfortunately not every criminal background check comes back clean when it should. It usually happens when people are applying for jobs.  We see it a lot with ride share companies like Uber and Lyft and regular employers as well. The most common error happens when someone has a common name. It’s not unusual for their information to appear wrongly as yours.  Other errors occur when they report on offenses that have been expunged or sealed. And believe it or not, sometimes they simply misread public information and don’t realize you were found not guilty of a crime.

While the economy is going great and the jobless rate is at all time lows, losing a job you want because of someone else’s error shouldn’t happen.  It’s often because the company that does these reports isn’t using all available reasonable procedures to ensure maximum accuracy in reporting. Sometimes they only match a name and date of birth.  I’ve seen cases where someone who has lived in Chicago their whole life lose out on a job because someone with a similar name in California was arrested. This caller had never left the midwest.

If you discover an error on your report, the background check company must, for free, conduct an investigation into the reporting. The agency must then report back the results, and if the information is removed, offer to send this new report to the company that received your incorrect report. This investigation has to happen within 30 days of you notifying them.

Note that the employer has to provide you with a copy of the bad report if that is why a job is denied to you. They can’t hide whoever it is that they were using to make this background check. They can’t just turn you down and not show you why.  And if they are using the report not to hire you, the must say so in writing and provide reasons for the rejection in writing.

If there is incorrect information on your background check and it costs you a job, you might have a lawsuit. We know consumer fraud attorneys in Chicago who have a great track record of success in suing over these errors. They work on a contingency basis which means that you won’t have to pay them anything to start a case and they only get paid if they win.

If you would like to ask questions about a bad background check, you can speak with an attorney for free by contacting us at 312-346-5320.