The Right Way to Get Applicant Consent to a Background Check

2 min read
Fri, Apr 21, 2023

The Right Way to Get Applicant Consent to a Background CheckEmployment background checks are becoming more necessary for employers looking to reduce negligent hiring claims and the risk to their reputation. Depending on the job description or the role, some background checks may be recommended beyond the basics. For example, if the job description doesn't require driving, running a motor vehicle record on the candidate is unnecessary. However, it is necessary to let the applicant know what background checks will be conducted and what it means for their potential job prospects.

Read further to learn the right way to get an applicant's consent to a background check.


Why is Applicant Consent Required?

During the hiring process, applicants share personal details such as full name, address, phone number, social security number, and other pertinent information. An application can generally be considered a contract with the employer and an expectation that their personal data will be protected and secure. When screening an applicant's background, the employer is again contractually obligated to protect the individual's private data and verify its truthfulness. The obligation is covered under federal and state regulations called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The FCRA protects the individual's rights to know what information is being shared, why it's being shared, how the information will be used, and what data has been collected and stored at various outlets such as previous employers, state and local courts, and federal databases. If that information is inaccurate or out-of-date, the individual also has the right to dispute the data under the FCRA.

See also: What is an Adverse Action Notice?

What is the Right Way to Get Applicant Consent?

Before screening an applicant or employee, employers must provide the proper disclosure and authorization form for signing. This authorization and disclosure must be a stand-alone document, separate from the actual employment application. Applicants will also be provided copies of their Summary of Rights under the FCRA

The form will ask for information required for the specific background checks, including Full name, residential address, social security number, etc. The required background checks will be listed, and the screening company's contact information will also be included. In addition, a statement to the effect that the background check results will be used to make a hiring decision will also be included. The applicant must sign and date the authorization form.

The signed authorization form should be kept securely in the applicant's file to protect the employer against FCRA claims later.

How Does Applicant Consent Protect Employers?

Compliance with the FCRA, both state and federal, is required among employers. Failure to obtain consent or provide the proper disclosures could result in legal consequences and punitive fines. By continuing to follow FCRA adverse action procedures after receiving the screening results, employers are also protecting their interests. 

As a best practice, VeriFirst Background Screening recommends downloading our Compliance Library for Employee Screening, which includes the most up-to-date forms and templates for compliance. We also provide a complimentary online consent portal when employers use VeriFirst for all of their screening needs. Let us know how we can help further with your background checks or assistance from our FCRA-certified staff.

Choose FCRA Compliant Screening with VeriFirst


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