Can an Employer Run a Background Check without Permission?


Can an Employer Run a Background Check without Permission?

As an employee and would-be employee, you have certain rights. An employer cannot infringe on your rights. If they do, you’ll always have the opportunity to sue the company in question. With that being said, you likely have questions regarding your rights as an employee. Can your employer run a background check on you without getting permission in advance? Ultimately, a lot of people have asked this question. What is the truth? In this guide, you’ll learn more about this topic.

Can an Employer Run a Background Check without Permission?

Can an Employer Run a Background Check without Permission?

The Urgency

Employers need to run background checks for a handful of reasons. You might be searching for new employees and you need to hire someone as swiftly as possible. Alternatively, there is a good chance that you’re offering a promotion for a new driver.

The firm wants to make sure that the person in question is indeed a good candidate for the position. Regardless of the situation, the company is going to experience an urgency to get the information they need as quickly as possible.

Can this company run a background check on the employee without getting permission? As long as you have the person’s name and other private information, you can likely run a background check on them. However, it is always a good idea to obtain permission before running a background check.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act

In some cases, the company will perform many background checks. The company hires often so they run multiple background checks each week. Alternatively, it might be a rental agency that needs to check on new tenants.

Either way, the organization is constantly running background checks on people for one reason or another. Well, you will find that you have legal obligations when performing many screenings.

Remember that you’re obtaining crucial information that will have a major impact on the person’s future. As a result, you are required to follow the guidelines set forth in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The act will protect the applicant during the screening procedure. Before you can obtain the background check, you will need to obtain their permission.

Under the FCRA, the individual will have the right to dispute the info found. If you’re running an organization or renting apartments, you cannot ignore the importance of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you fail to abide by the FCRA, you’re likely going to regret it in the long run. Get permission before running the background check to avoid potential issues.

When working with a credit reporting agency, they’ll likely give you authorization and disclosure forms so you’ll know what you need to do.

Running Fewer Background Checks

While some firms need to run background checks regularly, others do not. You may run a small business that doesn’t hire often. Alternatively, you might be an ordinary consumer who wishes to run a background check on yourself, a neighbor, or a potential date. If you’re running a small business, it is still a good idea to follow the requirements in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Following these guidelines helps you avoid potential liability issues in the years to come.

You want your business to grow and expand. As a result, you should prepare for that growth. Learning to follow these requirements will help ensure that you’re ready for the future. In most cases, ordinary consumers do not need permission to run background checks on others.

Why Companies Need Permission To Run Background Checks

Why would a company need to obtain permission before running a background check on a new employee? It is simple. A company has to have permission because they aren’t allowed to violate the employee’s privacy. In addition to this, the employee has rights set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The FCRA sets forth guidelines for protecting Americans from erroneous information found in their consumer and credit reports. Also, it helps determine who can provide the information found in the report and who can acquire it.

Finally, it helps determine the reasons you can obtain a report. Before this act was passed, credit and consumer reports often contained wrong information. Thanks to the FCRA, consumers can dispute the information found in the report.

How To Get Permission

Do you need to run a background check on someone before hiring them? If so, it is pertinent to obtain permission. According to the FCRA, the company should use a written consent form. And, that form should be clear and conspicuous. It is important to separate the consent form from the employment application.

The consent form should also tell the applicant what information is needed and that a background check is going to be conducted. The company should also provide the candidate with information about the screens that will be acquired and which information will be used to determine whether they’ll be hired.

Make sure that the applicant knows they’re going to obtain a copy of the report as well. It is generally best to ask for permission once you’ve confirmed that you’re going to offer the individual a job. When offering them the job, send them the written consent form.

What Happens When Someone Fails Their Background Check?

What will happen if a candidate fails a background check? Should they be eliminated immediately? Ultimately, it is up to the company and the human resources department to decide. Some companies are okay hiring people with criminal records, but others are not.

A criminal history does not always mean that the candidate should be denied a job. Instead, it is pertinent to follow the steps below to ensure that your company makes the right choice.

Confirm The Information – First and foremost, you’ll want to verify the information found in the report. It is pertinent to make sure that the information belongs to the individual in question. Be sure to work with a background check provider who carefully analyzes the information to guarantee its accuracy.

Consult With Your Hiring Policy – Once you’ve confirmed that the information is accurate, you need to check your hiring policy. Again, some companies will hire people with certain convictions, but not others. Check your hiring protocols to determine whether the person can be hired.

Inform The Candidate – Next, you’ll need to inform the applicant that the background check showed information that rules them out. You’ll also want to tell the applicant that they will receive a copy of the background check and a breakdown of their rights. They should have an adequate amount of time to analyze and dispute the information.

Disputing It – The application can dispute the information. If they do not dispute it or fail to prove otherwise, the company has the ability to deny them employment. In addition to that, the applicant can withdraw their application. If they successfully dispute the information, the company can choose to hire the individual.

Sending The Adverse Action Notice – Has your company decided to deny the applicant employee due to the information found on their background check? If so, you need to send them an adverse action notice.

Although they may slow the hiring process slightly, background checks are crucial for protecting your business. Choosing a high-quality consumer reporting agency will make a big difference.

Checking An Applicant’s Social Media Profiles 

Most people have social media profiles. As a result, companies may think it is a good idea to check the applicant’s social media profiles before hiring them. Can you do this without getting permission? Will you need permission or can you check their profiles immediately? There is a good chance that the information is public and readily available.

Nevertheless, you need to be cautious because it could be a violation of their privacy. In addition to this, there is a risk that you’re going to decide whether to hire the individual based on inaccurate information.

The applicant might’ve been a victim of identity theft or cyberbullying. Or, you might be looking at the social media profile of someone with the same name. Suffice to say, using social media to make employment decisions is generally not a good idea.

Refusing A Background Check 

There is always a chance that a potential employee will not want to submit to a background check. This happens more often than you might imagine. With that being said, you should warn potential employees that refusing to consent to a background check will disqualify them from employment.

By agreeing to the background check and disclosing convictions gives the candidate the ability to plead their case. Either way, companies should let candidates know that they won’t get the job if they don’t submit to a background check.

Read Also: How Do I Know If I Failed An Employer Background Check


Ultimately, employers should not run background checks on potential employees until they’ve obtained permission from them. Failing to do so could lead to liability issues in the future. With that being said, employers should always use a consent form along with their employment application.

Let the candidate know what information is needed and what you’ll find. Furthermore, tell them that they’ll not get the job if they don’t consent to the background check. Use the information above to avoid issues.