How to Remove Something From Your Background Checks

By Aimee M. Bissonette - Updated April 12, 2017
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Potential employers, landlords, insurers, credit providers and others run background checks to obtain information about applicants. Removing inaccurate information from your background check requires correcting it at the source, and also challenging it with the company that prepared the background check. It can be a lengthy process, but it's important. The information in background checks plays a role in hiring and credit decisions, so incorrect information can have harmful effects.

Finding What Went Wrong

If a company decides not to hire you because of information on your background check, it's required by federal law to provide you with a copy of the report and tell you how to identify the company that compiled the report, if they didn't do it internally. Background checks include information from a number of different sources, so take time to review the report carefully and identify all of the inaccurate information at the start. Otherwise you might have to repeat the process unnecessarily.

Who Got it Wrong, and What to Do

The next step is to decide who you need to deal with to settle your grievance. If the background check was conducted by a third- party screening company rather than by the potential employer, insurer, or credit provider itself, the dispute should be filed with the screening company. If the background check was conducted directly by the potential employer, insurer, or credit provider, the dispute will most likely need to be filed with whoever is in charge of the databases that provided the employer, insurer, or credit provider with information. The "summary of rights" that accompanied your copy of the report should include this information.

Correcting a Third-Party Report

File a dispute with the third-party screening company that conducted the background check. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, governs third- party screening companies. Under the FCRA, disputes must be filed in writing. Third-party screening companies have 30 days to investigate disputes and an additional five days after that to report findings back to the person filing the dispute. Third-party screening companies must remove or correct any incorrect and incomplete information, or reports that cannot be verified from their databases.

Fix the Point of Origin

Ultimately, rather than correcting each individual report, you'll need to go to the source of the inaccuracy and correct the information. Regardless of whether the background check was conducted by a third-party screening company or by another source, inaccurate information also needs to be corrected at its source. Correcting the information at its source will prevent inaccurate reporting in the future. Call or email courts, credit providers, and law-enforcement authorities directly about how to go about correcting information in their databases.

About the Author

Aimée M. Bissonette, J.D. (University of Minnesota Law School), has been writing professionally since 1993. Her book, "Cyber Law: Maximizing Safety and Minimizing Risk in Classrooms," helps educators understand the legal issues associated with the use of technology in schools. Bissonette practices law with Little Buffalo Law & Consulting in Minneapolis.

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