Background Checks

December 26, 2012 18:33 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed: 

I was turned down for a job because my application responses did not match the background check.  I want to see what information came up on me. Where can I get ahold of the same background information that businesses pull?

Consumer Ed says: 

You haven’t said what type of job you applied for and, since different businesses have different practices, it’s impossible to identify exactly what your potential employer searched for or took into consideration in deciding not to hire you.  However, following are some ways you can find the information that a potential employer may have seen when conducting your background check:

  • Order a copy of your credit report.  TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three nationwide credit reporting companies, are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months upon request.  To order, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228;
  • If you have a criminal record, have been involved in court cases, and/or have been adjudicated bankrupt, visit the courthouse where any proceedings took place and inspect and copy the pertinent files;
  • Obtain a copy of your driving record from the Georgia Department of Driver Services;
  • Hire a company that performs background checks to conduct one for you, upon you;
  • Ask neighbors and work colleagues if your potential employer contacted them, and what information was requested;
  • Conduct a search using your name through the major search engines online;
  • If you have created profiles on social networking websites, review those profiles;
  • Ask to see a copy of your personnel file from a previous or current job; and/or
  • Request previous background check reports that your employers conducted.


Generally speaking, several different pieces of information are accessible to potential employers when they perform background checks.  The Georgia Crime Information Center (“GCIC”) is authorized to make criminal history records available to private businesses when the businesses provide your fingerprints or provide your signed consent.  The GCIC can make criminal records available without your fingerprints or consent when the identifying information provided is sufficient to identify you and when the records are requested electronically.  This only applies to the electronic dissemination of criminal history records for in-state felony convictions, pleas, and sentences.  Additionally, the military may disclose your name, rank, salary, duty assignments, awards and duty status without your consent.  On the other hand, a potential employer must obtain your written consent and notify you in writing in order to run a credit check on you, as per the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The following are additional pieces of information that could be included in a background check, especially since some of the information is public record:  

  • Driving records
  • Court records
  • Workers' compensation
  • Bankruptcy
  • Character references
  • Neighbor interviews
  • Property ownership
  • State licensing records
  • Past employers
  • Personal references


There are certain pieces of information that will not be included in your background check.  Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, educational records such as transcripts, recommendations, and financial information are confidential and will not be released by the school without your consent.  The Employee Polygraph Protection Act prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment. The law includes a list of exceptions that apply to businesses that provide armored car services, alarm or guard services, or those that manufacture, distribute, or dispense pharmaceuticals.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot discriminate based on a physical or mental impairment or request your medical records. Businesses can, however, inquire about your ability to perform specific job duties.

 

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Issuing a 1099 to someone without a Social Security Number

March 9, 2012 19:20 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed: 

How can you issue a 1099 to a contractor who will not provide his Social Security number or his Federal ID number?  Can you send the 1099 to the IRS without this information?

Consumer Ed says: 

It appears that not all contractors are required to have a Social Security Number (SSN) to work in the United States.  Many are issued a Tax Identification Number (TIN) by the IRS.  The TIN may be used on Form 1099 instead of the SSN.  If the contractor does not provide a TIN or SSN, leave the box for the TIN or SSN blank on the Form 1099.  The IRS may impose a penalty if a 1099 form is submitted without a TIN or SSN.  However, the penalty will not apply if you can show the lack of information was due to an event beyond your control or due to significant mitigating factors.  You must also be able to show that you acted in a responsible manner and took steps to avoid the omission of this information, such as by writing the contractor to ask for this information.

Before proceeding, you should contact the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 to ensure that you have a full understanding of these requirements. 

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Work-at-Home Jobs

November 4, 2010 08:25 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

My unemployment insurance is about to run out.  I keep seeing these on-line job offers where you can make a lot of money working from home.  They ask you to pay a fee for training and certification.  How can I make sure I am not wasting my time and money?

Consumer Ed says:

You’re wise to be wary of these offers. Many of the work-from-home jobs advertised are scams.  First off, do not send money! Legitimate employers won’t ask you to pay them for the promise of a job, and it’s against the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for employers to charge employees for training.  If you are interested in working from home, make sure you research the position very carefully to make sure it’s on the up-and-up:

  • Find out specifically what you will be doing – ask about every step. 
  • How will you be paid?  Will you make a salary or will they provide a commission?
  • Who will pay you and when will you get paid?
  • Be very suspicious of guarantees of wealth, especially when the ads say “no experience required” or “will train”. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Get references and ask those people if they have been pleased with the company.
  • See if the Better Business Bureau has received complaints about the company, but be aware that a lack of complaints doesn’t guarantee that a company is legitimate. You may also want to do an Internet search for the company name with the word complaints.

While some work-at-home jobs are legitimate, you’re probably better off networking with business acquaintances and friends and exploring traditional job listings in newspapers and reputable online employment sites.

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