How do I correct a mistake on my background check?

You may have taken all the proper steps to ensure that your resume is complete, your information is accurate, and your references are top quality, but you still can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to employment. You’ve applied to countless jobs, landed a few interviews, and then crickets. So what’s going wrong? Chances are, if you’ve applied for a new job, you’ve shared your confidential information in a background check.

Although not common, errors can occur on background reports. Whether the mistakes are misinformation or fraudulent activity, you can take steps to correct the errors. Here are X steps you can take to fix mistakes showing on your background check.

1) Receive the report back from the employer

When you sign consent to running a background check, the prospective employer will access a website to complete the report. This PDF will contain all of your relevant information from different areas of your life; financial, criminal, personal information, and employment history. An employer will then use this information to determine your eligibility for the position and with the company. For some employers, rejecting an application based on the findings of the report may be necessary. If this happens, the employer will provide you with a copy of the information for your review.

2) Confirm the information for yourself

The easiest way to confirm information found is to run a background check on yourself. Make sure you look for a reliable and trusted website that sources information from a variety of databases. Also, confirm that the website you use is FCRA-compliant; these are the same companies that potential employers will use. Some platforms will only use the information found online, preventing an accurate representation of your history.

Make sure you closely inspect all areas of the report. If you notice any discrepancies, take note of the company name, dates, and balances (if applicable). These may include suspended licenses, unpaid loans, incorrect social security numbers, and misspellings of your first and last name. If your name is common, always recommend using other identifying information to pull the correct report. 

3) Ensure the Report Genuinely Contains Errors

One of the most common reasons for a report turning up miscellaneous information is generating another person’s account. This error occurs when someone else has a name like yours, and you can quickly rectify it with additional information to identify the right profile. Additionally, there are times when criminal sections may contain a few errors. Most commonly, sealed or expunged information appears, or the same charge appears multiple times. In these situations, contacting the police department or court office will resolve the issues.

4) Report Cases of Fraud

Fraudulent Financial Accounts

Should there be multiple records of financial accounts you didn’t open, delinquent accounts, or collections you didn’t cause, report the information to local authorities right away. You’ll also want to contact all creditors and document the charges as fraudulent. Finally, make sure you report the accounts to credit bureaus. By reporting the expenses, you can request to have the files removed from your name. Once their investigation is complete, all financial liability is removed from the file.

Falsified Criminal Activity

On occasion, the wrong person has criminal activity attached to their name. Typically, this occurs when individuals share the same first and last name or when someone has stolen another person’s identity. In addition, showing charges multiple times on the same file can occur. These duplicates are typically due to a reporting error from the court. These charges can be difficult to have removed, particularly if they’re older charges. Always contact the appropriate police department or courthouse to dispute the criminal charges when possible.

Phishing Social Media Accounts

Most people have at least one social media account, but when your results record multiple names on the same platform, there’s a chance someone else is using your information. The reasons for impersonation vary but often occur when someone is trying to collect goods, services, or money from close contacts. If you notice social media accounts that aren’t yours, always report them to the platform immediately. Additionally, you can visit the profile in question and report the profile manually too.

Missing Educational Information

On occasion, post-secondary information is missing from the report. This missing educational information may occur when the school fails to update its records. If you notice a discrepancy in your post-secondary information, contact the school’s administrative department to correct it. This correction includes any additional certificates or awards received as well.

Contact the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Once you’ve had the chance to review the report, it’s up to you to notify the proper departments for investigation. Until the matter resolves, the hiring manager cannot make a hiring decision on the job, which may give you a second chance in the end. Unfortunately, prospective employers don’t enjoy the delay in the hiring process, so it’s always a more accessible option to be proactive with your background check information.

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