Got My Back, Background?

Although it’s only been a year, I’m back in the job market. Heck, some people resume sending out resumes in weeks. New in 2015, with the positions for which I qualify, are third-party background checks.

Fortunately, I am an angel.

Earlier this summer, R— S— (hereinafter known as “Auld Acquaintance”) applied at T— U— (hereinafter the “Company”). That job description stated a criminal background check and a sex offender registry check would be performed. Understandable: No crooks or perverts. (Now, if they only could weed out the psychos.)

A third-party “consumer reporting agency” emailed a form a couple of weeks ago to Auld Acquaintance seeking basic information such as full name, any former names (maiden), current address and phone — and the applicant’s authorization signature, created on one’s computer by moving the mouse (or finger if a smarter device) as one would with a pen.

Auld Acquaintance was pleased, because it meant the Company thought enough of the interview to pay for the investigation. It was closer to an offer!

The first four paragraphis of the authorization.
Click the following phrase for a PDF of the authorization.

I just got a similar email. Whoopee, they like me, they really really like me!

Then I read the multipage document. If I wanted to move up in consideration, I had to follow course. I did. In confirmation, the Agency emailed me a PDF of the authorization.

In a nutshell: “The background report may contain information concerning your character, general reputation, personal characteristics, mode of living, and credit standing.”

And the Agency [“(or another consumer reporting agency”)] isn’t done with you when you take the job: “These background reports may be obtained at any time after receipt of your authorization and, if you are hired or engaged by the Company, throughout your employment or your contract period, as allowed by law.”

As a journalist for most of my adulthood, I know for a fact that “facts” in “private and public record sources” can have errors. Simple misspellings, wrong addresses from a few homes ago and the like are prevalent.

It’s not because of the Internet age; ask any genealogist to tell you about mistakes large and small no matter the era.

My colleagues and I found reassurance that the nation’s best newspapers now and from before our time have typos. Also, editors warned us that government records might have accidental or deliberate errors — that’s yet another reason to use attribution in articles.

Those are irritations, unless the misspelled name or wrong apartment number is that of a criminal or sicko.

The worse problem is that the job applicant might never know. Attached to the authorization was “A Summary of Your Rights Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act,” which includes, “You must be told if information in your file has been used against you.”

That seems hard to enforce, although it has happened. By the time a correction is made to one’s file, how far would the bad information have traveled?

All one might learn is that the job went to someone else. Here is a recent rejection: “Please be advised that this position has been filled. We hope you will consider other employment opportunities with us by logging onto our career site … to review current opportunities that are available.”

Now, I do want to work for the Company. But I’m creeped out and feel cornered. What should I do?

If this was a face-to-face meeting, as for a loan, the two parties would note and initial exceptions to the standard contract. But with an electronic signature? The one option I saw was to write in the signature box, “Note — Some documents have errors — sometimes.”

I hope the “consumer reporting agency” understands my interest in protecting my good name. An error that it signs off on will follow me forever.

Not to worry. Every private and public document, and any “personal interviews” (the form mentions that three times), will verify my saintliness.

Unless, of course, there’s a mistake.

Maybe I am no angel.

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One thought on “Got My Back, Background?

  1. This afternoon I was emailed the so-called “thin envelope” on this position.

    Dear Ben Pollock,
    Thank you for your recent application for employment. Our records show that you applied for the following position:
    Working Title: L— M—
    Department: N— O—
    Please be advised that this position has been filled.
    We hope you will consider other employment opportunities with us by logging onto our career site … to review current opportunities that are available.
    Thank you again for your interest in P— Q—.
    Thank you.
    Human Resources

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