Some Thoughts From a Background-Checker

The following is a guest column by Marc Hurwitz, President of Crossroads Investigations, a full-service Private Investigation and Due Diligence firm. Marc began government service with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and continued in the U.S. Department of State’s Human Rights Bureau. He then worked in the White House for three years, where he served as the aide to the Deputy National Security Advisor. Marc went on to become a counter-terrorism officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and later worked for the government in multiple overseas posts, earning several commendations for meritorious service.


First and foremost, let me say I am not a lawyer.   Employment law is complicated and I am not offering legal advice.   You should seek the counsel of a local attorney if you have employment law questions.
As the owner of a private investigation agency, I am often asked to run background checks on job candidates.   I always give the employer a consent form to be filled out by the candidate.  This is so important because the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires it, even though the background check includes information that is a matter of public record.  The employer is obligated to pull a background report that is FCRA-compliant, which limits what can be searched and how far back those records can go.
I’m sometimes asked if a candidate should volunteer negative information in their background.   This is always a risk.  On the one hand, it’s possible that the information won’t show up on the background report - this could be for a number of reasons such as the employer not ordering the correct report to the record being too old.  However, if the candidate says he has always been a model citizen, and his background report suggests otherwise, what do you think their chances are of getting a job offer?  My advice is to be honest.   Yes, you may not get the job, but if you lie, you definitely won’t get the job if the employer discovers it, or could fire you later if they find out.
OK, you’ve given your consent and you don’t get the job.  You have the right to ask for and receive a copy of the background report used to make the non-hiring decision.  If there’s a mistake on the report, you should communicate with the employer and the background check company to seek corrections.
I am happy to take questions either via this blog or by email: