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How to Find Out If an Employer Has Done a Background Check on Me

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If an employer in the United States wishes to conduct a background check on a potential employee, the employer must comply with certain government mandates that protect applicants' privacy and records. These mandates include legislation and rules for the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Drivers Protection Privacy Act (DPPA). An employer cannot conduct a background check on a potential employee without that person signing a release form that authorizes law enforcement and other agencies to provide criminal history, identity check, credit and other information.

Contact Human Resources. This department typically oversees all background checks on prospective employees. Call and politely ask if they've completed the background check. In smaller companies, it may be your potential employer or another manager who conducts the background check.

Ask your character references. Most background check release forms include the job applicant's personal and/or work references. Contact the people whose names you provided and ask if they have been contacted for an interview. Your references will not usually object to discussing inquiries about you, including the questions they were asked and the recommendations they offered.

Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. You can call, email or write a letter, but it's more expedient to visit in person. Ask if anyone has requested your driving history information, and if so, who, when and what information was provided. Be prepared to show your driver's license to verify your identity.

Look for credit bureau notifications in your mail. Credit bureaus such as TransUnion and Equifax are required by law to report to you when a third party accesses your credit history information. Typically, credit bureaus send these notifications by letter approximately seven to 10 days after the inquiry. They provide the name of the party that made the request, the information requested and the information they provided.

Tip

The FCRA is often viewed as being only about credit-reporting regulations, when actually its scope is broader, covering consumer information such as character, reputation and mode of living. In some states, employers call their background reports "investigative consumer reports." Although some past employers only release such information as a person's former job title and terms of employment, some may also, in the course of a background check conversation, discuss the person's work reputation and character.