The federal government has neglected its responsibility for regulating the companies that provide criminal background checks used by 9 in 10 companies to screen job applicants, says the New York Times in an editorial. The newspaper says the “damage done to job seekers by flawed and unreliable data — a common problem with such services — can be devastating. The Federal Trade Commission this week for the first time charged and settled a case with one background check company, HireRight Solutions Inc. It was accused of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires companies to ensure the accuracy of the reports. Federal and state governments need to do more to protect people from this industry, which has grown so quickly that no one seems to know how many companies there are, the Times says.
The FTC charged that HireRight failed to follow reasonable procedures to prevent obviously inaccurate information from being provided to employers and, in many cases, even included the records of the wrong person. The company signed a consent decree that requires it to pay $2.6 million, provide consumers with information in their files in a timely manner upon request, promptly notify people who dispute their background reports about the outcomes of the investigation; and update reports to reflect the expungement or dismissal of criminal charges.