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1/30/11 - Background Checks - 01/22/2011
The recent downturn in the economy has created an extremely competitive job market where employers are being extra careful of who they hire into their organization. In fact, The Survey Group reported that more than 80 percent of employers do a background check on potential employees by performing some form of employee screening. So, it’s a good idea that you understand the truth and myths surrounding background checks and what employers may learn about you.

To ease your mind, we are going to share with you what a potential employer can and cannot learn about you through a pre-employment background check.


A potential employer will be able to access:

• Arrest Records—MYTH. An employer cannot access your arrest record. Your arrest record will only be seen if you were convicted of a crime or are pending trial.

• Bankruptcy Filings—TRUTH. Bankruptcies are public record. However, employers cannot discriminate against applicants because they have filed for bankruptcy.

• Workers Compensation Claims—TRUTH. When an employee's claim goes through the state system or the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB), the case becomes public record. An employer may only use this information if an injury might interfere with one's ability to perform required duties.

• Social Security Number—TRUTH. An employer will be able to verify your social security number.

• Educational Records—TRUTH. These records are only seen if there is consent from you, the student. However, a school can release what they call “directory information” which can include your name, address, dates of attendance, degrees earned, and activities you participated in, that is unless you have given written notice not to release that information.

• Military Service Records—TRUTH. The military can disclose your name, rank, salary, assignments and awards without your consent.

• Medical Records—MYTH. Employers do not have the authority to request your medical records and cannot use them when making a hiring decision. They can however inquire if you have any physical restrictions that may inhibit you from performing a certain job.

• Work History—TRUTH. Verification of dates of employment and positions held can be obtained.

• Driving Records—TRUTH. Your driving records are not confidential and can be released without consent. However, they are usually not included in the standard pre-employment background check unless you will be driving as part of your job.

• Credit Reports—MYTH. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) employers must receive written consent before seeking an employee’s or potential employee’s credit report. However, if they run a credit check with your consent, its best to first check out what they may find. Get a Free Credit Report now!

This material is provided for general informational purpose and should not be considered legal advice. Restrictions on information that can be shared may vary from state to state.

Now that you know what an employer can and cannot learn about you, the best way to prepare for your next job is to first perform your own employment background check to confirm that your information is accurate. Additionally, this shows employers that you have the drive and ability to be a self-starter who is committed to their job search and certainly worth considering as a potential employee.

The Team