Berger & Montague, P.C. believes that consumer and credit
reporting agencies must be held accountable when they make mistakes
in their employment/criminal background reports. If you believe a
background check company or a credit bureau has included improper,
mistaken, or inaccurate information about you in a background
check, please contact Berger & Montague.
Below are additional steps you can take if there is an issue
with your employment/criminal background report. Know that each
link will open a new window or tab to another webpage with more
information on the particular topic.
Request a copy of your background check from your employer or
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to
a copy of your background check. If you were not hired or fired
from a job because of a background check, the employer is required
to provide you with a copy of the report as well as the name and
address of the background check company. If someone ran a
background check for reasons other than employment, you should
receive a notice that provides the name and contact information of
the background check company.
Identify the source of the error
Once you receive a copy of your background check, identify the
source of the error. Employment-related background checks can
include the following information:
- Criminal background
- Educational history
- Employment history
- Residential history
- Credit history
If you have a criminal background, the report the employer
receives will include details on that criminal history. Those
details may include:
- Jurisdiction (the court where the case was held)
- Charges brought
- Charge level (misdemeanor, felony, etc.)
- Charge date
- Disposition (guilty, dismissed, deferred)
- Disposition date
Background checks may not include any of the
- Information about an arrest that happened more than seven years
- Information about criminal charges that are more than seven
years old and were dismissed
- Information about criminal charges that are more than seven
years old and that resulted in a deferred adjudication or other
- Any information about bankruptcies that are more than ten years
- Any other adverse information, other than convictions, that are
more than seven years old
Including any of this information in a background report is
Some of the most common background check problems include:
- Mixed files - criminal records belonging to
someone with the same or similar name ending up on your report
- Incorrect information - criminal record
information that is reported incorrectly, such as incorrect
disposition information (for example, "guilty" instead of "not
guilty"), or incorrect severity (for example, misdemeanors that are
reported as felonies).
- Reporting of expunged or sealed charges - if a
criminal record or conviction has been expunged or sealed, it
should not be included on a background report
- Alternative dispositions misreported - many
states have diversion or other alternative disposition programs in
which a conviction can be avoided if an individual meets certain
conditions over a period of time (for example, avoiding additional
criminal charges for a year). Participation in these programs can
sometimes be misreported as a conviction
- Duplicate reporting - criminal records that
are included on the same report multiple times, making a criminal
record look longer than it is
Also keep in mind that if a large amount of information on your
background report is incorrect, the problem might be with the
government's records, not the background check company. In order to
fix the problem, you need to find out which government agency is
providing the flawed information. You can do this by requesting a
copy of your file from the background check company who put
together your report. Once you see where the flawed information is
coming from, contact that government office with the correct
Background check errors can also be caused by identity theft. If
you suspect that your identity has been stolen, alert the credit
bureaus. They will put a fraud alert on your file so that anyone
pulling your credit report knows the information is compromised.
You can also request that the credit bureaus place a freeze on your
credit, which will prevent most creditors from accessing your
credit report entirely.
If there is specific information on your credit report that you
believe is a result of identity theft, you can request that the
credit bureaus block that information from your account. You will
need to provide the credit bureaus with a police report showing
that you have reported the identity theft. You will also need to
provide proof of your identity, highlight the information to be
blocked, and provide a statement that the information is not
related to any transaction involving you. Once the credit bureaus
receive that information, they are required to block the
information within four business days.
Once you're received a copy of your background check and
identified the error(s), contact
Berger & Montague. We will be able to assist you with next
In addition to knowing what steps to take if there is an issue
with your employment/criminal background report, it's also
important to be familiar with the guidelines surrounding background
able to pull a background report on me?
Employers are able to run a background check on you at any time,
but only with your permission. Specifically, an employer or
potential employer must disclose to you, in writing, that they plan
on running a background check. They must also obtain your
authorization to do so, in writing.
Spouses are also able to pull background checks, but only if
they have written permission or a permissible purpose under the
back can a background check go?
It is an unfortunate myth that employers are only allowed to do
a background check going back for seven years. In reality,
employers can look as far back into someone's history as they
choose. However, under the FCRA, background check companies are not
allowed to report negative information about a consumer that is
older than seven years, except for criminal convictions.
Non-convictions can only be reported for seven years. Arrests,
indictments, dismissed charges, most traffic charges, and other
criminal justice system contacts that are not convictions of crimes
cannot be reported for longer than seven years.
If you went to a diversion program to avoid a conviction,
background check companies can report that information for up to
seven years. However, the information needs to be accurate. If the
background check company is reporting a diversion as a conviction
when there was no conviction, that report may be inaccurate and
traffic charges like speeding tickets show up on a background
Background check companies can report information about your
driving history for up to seven years. Whether a background check
company can report your driving history beyond seven years depends
on whether the incidents in your driving history are considered
criminal or non-criminal under the laws of your state. In many
states, minor driving infractions such as speeding or non-moving
violations are not criminal in nature and cannot be reported beyond
background check include information about an expunged criminal
No. Background check companies should not report expunged
I get my criminal history expunged?
Expungement is a state-by-state issue. Depending on what state
you are in, there are different policies and procedures that
determine whether your criminal background can be expunged. State
laws will also determine what it means to have something expunged
and whether and to what extent information about your criminal
background can be reported by background check companies.
I fix a mistake on my background check?
Under the FCRA, background check companies are required to
reinvestigate any disputed information reported within 30 days of
receiving a dispute. Many background check companies have forms
that you can use to submit a dispute, or you can send the
background check company a letter that describes your dispute.
In addition to the form or letter, you should also send copies
of any documents that show information was reported incorrectly.
After completing its investigation, the background check company is
required to inform you of the investigation's results.
sue a background check company?
If a background check company has failed to follow the FCRA, you
may have a legal claim. If your claim is successful, you can
- Your actual damages, such as lost wages and emotional
- An award of statutory damages
You may also have the opportunity to serve as the representative
in a class action case, which would allow you to help recover
damages for a larger group of people.
the statute of limitations for suing over a background check
The statute of limitations under the FCRA is two-tier. No matter
what, you have at least two years to sue for a FCRA violation. If
you are unaware of the violation, you may have up to five years to
with our attorneys for free
If there is an error on your criminal background check report or
employment background screen, the lawyers at Berger & Montague
will evaluate whether or not you have a claim for
free. You may have a legal claim if an employer or
background check company failed to follow FCRA procedures, and this
prevented you from being hired by an employer or meant you were
mistakenly fired from your job. Our background check attorneys will
review your background check report for free and work to get you
the compensation you may be entitled to for any lost wages and
to contact us, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 424-6690.