Consumer protection and credit checks: Were your rights violated?

In recent years, background checks have become commonplace when individuals here in Pennsylvania and around the country are seeking employment. However, there is a line that employers are not supposed to cross. Consumer protection laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) set forth certain guidelines for employers when they check an applicant's credit report. 

Before a potential employer is allowed to view limited information from your credit report, you have the right to be informed of the request. You must sign a written release indicating your consent to the employer obtaining the information. The employer must also give you the opportunity to acknowledge that the information could be used against you (such as denying you employment). The release must have with it information about your rights under the FCRA and a copy of your credit report.

If the employer does take any adverse action based on your credit report, it must inform you in writing what screening company was used, that any actions taken were that of the employer and not the screening company and that you have the right to dispute those actions. Some employers will not provide you with the opportunity to dispute or explain the information. They also might not inform you that they are obtaining more information than they are entitled to under FCRA.

If you discover a Pennsylvania employer violated your rights under FCRA or any other consumer protection laws, it would be a good idea to seek the advice and guidance of an attorney. He or she will review your case, explain your legal rights and provide you with options. If it is warranted, a lawsuit could be filed seeking both non-monetary and monetary damages.

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