Background Check Notice: Are Your Materials Up-To-Date?

January 12, 2015 in HR Best Practices


In this blog by Anne Yuengert, she states that Dollar General paid $4 million to settle a FCRA violation and offers guidance to make sure your background check notice are up-to-date.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires employers in the United States who use pre-employment background checks on candidates to:

  1. notify the candidate that you are going to do the background check and get his or her written permission before you do the background check, and
  2. notify the candidate that you are considering taking adverse action AND give the candidate a copy of the report and a statement of his or her rights under FCRA, before you make an adverse decision based on a background check.

15 U.S.C. Section 1681b(b)(2) and (3).  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issues a Summary of Rights form that most employers use for this second notice.

In this case, the plaintiffs alleged that Dollar General failed to give them notice of the adverse employment action before it was made (or at least not enough notice) OR provided an outdated Summary of Rights. Dollar General denied all of these allegations but has agreed to settle the matter.

If you are conducting background checks, make sure you are sending sufficient notice to candidates before you make a decision. How much notice is sufficient? There is no bright line but some guidance suggests five days. Given that the purpose of the notice is to give a candidate a chance to check his or her report and let you know that it is inaccurate, five to seven business days is probably a good rule of thumb. Also, go ahead and make sure you have the latest version of the Summary of Rights from the CFPB’s website.