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Disputing a Criminal Background Check for a New Job

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Many employers conduct criminal background checks on potential job candidates. Because these background checks are usually done by running your name and date of birth through a criminal database, it's possible for your information to get tangled up with someone else's. If this happens, you are protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Under the FCRA, you have a right to dispute any inaccurate information appearing on your credit report or criminal background reports.

Determine what was reported. A prospective employer is not responsible for the information appearing on your criminal background check. However, she might notify you of reported information that causes you to miss a job opportunity. Under the FCRA, you can request one free copy of your criminal background report each year from each background reporting agency.

Explain to the prospective employer that the information on your background check is incorrect. Explain why it is incorrect and ask for time to resolve the matter. The employer may or may not oblige your request.

Submit a formal dispute. The exact protocol for submitting a dispute varies, depending upon the screening agency. However, it usually involves submitting a written letter explaining that you disagree with information listed on your report. Be specific about which information is incorrect. State why the information is incorrect. Attach a copy of your criminal background report along with any documentation you have proving the information is wrong.

Create a paper trail to prove you submitted a dispute. Make a copy of the dispute letter and all accompanying documentation, before sending it to the company. Keep the copies for your own records. Send the dispute letter via certified mail. By doing so, you have proof that the letter is successfully delivered.

Wait for a resolution. Once the background screening agency receives notification that there is an error on your report, it is responsible for investigating and correcting the error. By law, the agency has up to 30 days to complete its investigation and address the matter. If the agency can't prove the data on your report are correct, the data must be deleted.

Ask the agency to contact the prospective employer and advise it of the correction made to your criminal background report. Request a free copy of your report to verify the information has been corrected.

Contact the prospective employer to let it know your report has been corrected. There is no guarantee that the employer will reconsider your job application, but you'll at least know that your background information has been corrected.


Tara Renee holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration. She is the owner of several small businesses. In her spare time, she loves to share her knowledge and wisdom through writing. Some of her articles have appeared in major media outlets, including "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" and the "Gainesville Times."

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