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When a Background Check Goes Wrong: How to Get Your Record Fixed.

Title: What to Do When Errors Arise in Your Background Check


Background checks have become an essential part of the application process in many aspects of our lives – from employment to housing and various official procedures. These screening tools aim to provide accurate and reliable information about individuals, ensuring safety and security within organizations. However, like any other human-driven process, background checks can sometimes contain errors, which can have serious implications. In this article, we will explore how you can address errors in your background check, empowering you to take control of your personal information and protect your reputation.

Understanding Background Checks

Before delving into the steps to address inaccuracies, it is crucial to comprehend how background checks are conducted. Background checks involve collecting and analyzing an individual's personal information, such as criminal records, employment history, educational background, and even credit reports. This comprehensive analysis allows organizations to make informed decisions about hiring, renting, or lending.

Types of Errors in Background Checks

Errors in background checks can occur due to a variety of reasons such as human error, outdated databases, mistaken identity, or incomplete records. Let's take a closer look at some common errors you may encounter:

1. Inaccurate Criminal Records: Mistakenly attributing criminal records to the wrong person is a common error in background checks. This can happen when individuals have similar names or when databases contain outdated or incorrect information.

2. Incorrect Employment History: Background checks often include employment verification to confirm an individual's experience and qualifications. However, errors may arise if a job title, employment period, or the employer's name is incorrectly recorded.

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3. False Education Credentials: Verifying education credentials is another crucial aspect of background checks. Unfortunately, fake degrees, incorrect graduation dates, or misspelled or inaccurate institutions can occasionally slip through the screening process.

4. Missed Expunged Records: If you have had a criminal record expunged or have received a pardon, it should not appear in a background check. However, there might be instances where these records aren't properly updated, resulting in an erroneous report.

Addressing Background Check Inaccuracies

When you discover errors in your background check, taking prompt action is essential. Here are the steps you can take to address and rectify such inaccuracies:

1. Obtain a Copy of Your Background Check Report

Request a copy of your background check report from the organization that conducted the screening. They are legally required to provide you with a copy if you request it within a certain time frame. Review the report carefully, identifying any discrepancies or errors.

2. Document the Errors

Create a detailed record of the errors you've identified in your background check report. Make note of the incorrect information, the correct details, and any supporting documents you can provide as evidence. This documentation will be crucial as you navigate the process of challenging the inaccuracies.

3. Communicate with the Screening Agency

Reach out to the organization or screening agency responsible for conducting your background check. Provide them with a formal, written request highlighting the errors you have identified and the supporting evidence you have gathered. Clearly state your intention to dispute the inaccuracies and request that a correction be made.

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4. Understand Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Familiarize yourself with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates background checks and protects consumers' rights. The FCRA requires screening agencies to investigate disputed information within a reasonable time frame and correct any inaccuracies.

5. File a Dispute with the Reporting Agency

If your initial communication with the screening agency does not yield the desired results, you may need to escalate the issue. File a formal dispute with the reporting agency and provide them with the same documentation you provided to the screening agency. This triggers an investigation into the discrepancies by the reporting agency.

6. Follow Up Regularly

During the investigation, it is essential to maintain regular communication with both the screening agency and the reporting agency. Keep records of all interactions, including dates, times, individuals spoken to, and any pertinent information discussed. This will ensure that you can provide accurate information when required.

7. Consult Legal Advice if Necessary

In more complex cases where the errors have severe consequences, consider seeking legal advice. A lawyer with expertise in background checks can guide you through the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected and assisting you in seeking compensation for any damages caused by incorrect information.


Encountering errors in your background check can be a stressful and frustrating experience. However, armed with the right knowledge and a proactive approach, you can address inaccuracies and protect your reputation. Remember to review your report, document the errors, communicate effectively, be aware of your rights, and seek legal guidance if necessary. By taking these steps, you reclaim control over your personal information and ensure the accuracy and reliability of your background check.

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