Can the data that is readily available all over the Internet with results returned instantly be acceptable when running pre-employment screening / background checks? In other words, is stored data (information from a database) FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) compliant for employment background checks?
This exact scenario was asked by John J. Allan III of Dallas, Texas. This is some of the text from the FTC's response on this issue:
This is in response to your letter inquiring whether employment screening services that use "stored data public records" comply with Section 613(2) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"). You state that such services purchase public records from a "stored data records company" in bulk on magnetic tape or in CD-ROM format every 30, 60, or 90 days, and use them in screening employment applicants for their clients. Under these facts, the employment screening service is a consumer reporting agency ("CRA") under the FCRA. We conclude that a CRA does not comply with Section 613(2) of the FCRA when it furnishes consumer reports for employment purposes that include negative public record information from stored data, without first verifying whether the information is complete and up to date.
The key is that your report to the client must contain the information EXACTLY how it was listed from the data source (i.e., Courthouse, DMV,Registrar's Office, Employer's records, etc.) and within 24 hours of the date of your report. Therefore, Section 613(a)(2) makes using stored data from a database, if that database was updated from the Source more than a day ago, NON-compliant.
In other words, yes the data is useful for the general public and for research purposes, however, when conducting pre-employment screening you can not rely on database information. Your information must be accurate & validated within a 24 hour period of your report that pertains to the applicant.
You may read the full text of the FTC's response here.
Patrick L. Baird