For those who have never gotten convicted of a felony, the question on a job or rental application asking about criminal background checks rarely gets a second glance. These people assume that the background check won’t pose any issue to securing a new home. Unfortunately, mistakes in background check reports and overzealous data collection on the part of companies that provide background checks could end up causing problems.
If a potential employer or your current boss who’s considering promoting you reads an inaccurate report, that could cost you a valuable opportunity. Sometimes, the inaccurate records are financial in nature, such as judgments, liens or bankruptcy records that simply shouldn’t be on your credit report. Other times, the issue is with the criminal component of your background report, which can be a very serious problem.
Sometimes background checks have inaccurate information
No matter how careful a company is when performing a background check, mistakes can and do happen. Sometimes, the issue could simply be inaccurate records, where someone else’s crime ends up in the wrong file. These issues can often be resolved by pointing out discrepancies in name, age and birth date.
However, it is possible for someone who shares your name and birthday to end up in legal trouble. In that kind of situation, there is always the potential for a records mistake that becomes much harder to address. It could be someone with a similar social security number or other critical identifying information.
Some private companies maintain private records that could hurt you
Some of the biggest companies that perform background checks or assist companies with investigations maintain their own servers with all kinds of personal and criminal data. They will then provide that information to employers, which can result in losing out on a job despite having taken steps to clean up your public record.
Those who have expunged a previous criminal conviction, plead guilty to a lesser offense or who defeated a felony charge in court could still lose out on jobs or other opportunities. That’s because these private security firms do not have to remove public information like the courts do. For example, if you had a youthful offense expunged, state records will no longer show the conviction. A private security firm could still have the record, however, and end up costing you a job.
There’s also a presumption of guilt involved for those accused of serious crimes. Even if you plead to a lesser offense, like a misdemeanor, the security company can assume that you were, in fact, guilty of the felony. They will include the felony charge in their report. Similarly, if you went to court and weren’t convicted, the record of the charge could still end up in your background check. That could cost you an important opportunity.