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Entries in Background Check (3)

Tuesday
May082012

Wells Fargo Worker Fired for 40-Year-Old Shoplifting Charge

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- A Milwaukee Wells Fargo employee was fired after a background check discovered shoplifting incidents stemming from 1972.

Yolanda Quesada, 58, worked in customer service at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Milwaukee for five years. Although she has a number of recognition awards from her employer, two shoplifting arrests when she was 18 were reason enough to be fired, according to her employer.

Wells Fargo has not responded to a request for comment.

Quesada told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her employer would not let her explain the shoplifting incidents, which were from a department store in 1972. Although she said she wants her job back, her termination letter stated that she is no longer eligible to work at Wells Fargo, the Journal Sentinel said.

The letter from an outsourced background check company states that she was fined $50 for the first offense and had one year of probation for the second theft.

“Due to legal requirements and changes in the regulatory environment, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has been performing a thorough background check on all mortgage team members that includes a fingerprint check with the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2010 on new employees, and on existing employees since last year,” a Wells Fargo spokesman told the newspaper. “Because Wells Fargo is an insured depository institution, we are bound by federal law that generally prohibits us from hiring or continuing the employment of any person who we know has a criminal record involving dishonesty or breach of trust.”

The letter does not accuse Quesada of lying to Wells Fargo about the shoplifting incidents. When she first applied, she remembers only being asked if she had more serious felonies, which she said she did not, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

Job Applicant ID'd as Sex Offender in Background Check Sues

John Foxx/Stockbyte(PHILADELPHIA) -- Samuel Jackson thought his job offer from Optics Planet was a done deal -- but then a routine background check gone awry surprised the company and Jackson with a detail even he didn't know: his name appeared on a national list of registered sex offenders.

Jackson, 28, alleges in a suit filed in U.S. District Court last week that the consumer reporting agency that ran his background check, Infotrack Information Services, carelessly mixed him up with people who shared his name and might have cost him and countless others potential jobs.

"It's alarming if you think about it because you wonder how many common names go through this," Jackson told ABC News.

Sharon Dietrich, an attorney with Community Legal Resources of Philadelphia, said the answer is many, many people with common names that go through similar battles with background check companies to get their names cleared.

"We see lots and lots of examples of background checks done wrong," said Dietrich, who noted that more than 80 percent of companies now use background checks to screen potential employees. "And for some people, that can mean the difference between working and not working."

In October 2010, Jackson was offered a job as a live chat response specialist for Optics Planet, an Illionois-based online catalog for binoculars, camera lenses and other optical equipment. The company then contracted Infotrack to run a background track, and Infotrack returned information tying Jackson to seven "possible matches" from the national sex offender registry, according to the suit.

Optics Planet later reneged the job offer, which Jackson suspects is because of the faulty criminal reporting, according to his lawyer, Christopher Wilmes. Optics Planet would not confirm to Jackson that the criminal report had any bearing on their decision to rescind the offer, and the company did not return calls for comment from ABC News.

The background check misidentified Jackson, who is a white male in his twenties, as a black male in his fifties who had been convicted of sex crimes in states where Jackson has never lived.

Jackson is suing the company for practices that violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

He claims Infotrack never bothered to verify any of the information found in the sex offender database -- not even his birthday. The 28-year-old was born in 1983; one of the sex offenders he was accused of being committed his crime in 1987, when Jackson was 3 years old.

Another match for the name "Samuel Jackson" returned a Virginia man convicted of aggravated sexual battery and sentenced to life in prison, where he remains today. And yet the match was included in the report.

Wilmes cites these as examples of the "grossly inaccurate" reporting by Infotrack.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumer reporting agencies are required to follow reasonable procedures to assure accuracy and to notify individuals when a report may adversely affect their job application. Jackson claims he never received such notification.

When Jackson complained to Infotrack, the company told him mix-ups happen all the time, and people complain to them often about it, according to the suit.

"People are getting background checks that may or may not be accurate, may or may not be compliant with the law, they report information they're not supposed to under the law," Dietrich said.

Like Jackson, individuals wronged by consumer reporting agencies can try and contact the company to straighten out the reports, or take legal action against them, but few do, Dietrich said.

"People can get damages from the companies, but unfortunately that happens in a small number of cases. Most people don't have access to lawyers. Most people are just happy to get the reports fixed, because filing disputes doesn't even necessarily work," she said.

Consumers Union, a non-profit watchdog group that publishes Consumer Reports, said that consumer rating agencies need closer monitoring by the government because of their tendency to "unfairly use consumers' data to draw potentially harmful and unreliable conclusions," according to a statement released by the group last month. The group also wrote a letter to Congress alerting them to the risks of these companies.

Margaret Hendron, the director of operations for Infotrack, declined to comment on the case. The Infotrack website confirms that its sex offender checks are "inherently incomplete" and must be verified with local criminal reports.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun242011

Employer Background Checks Now Include Twitter, Facebook

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Surviving a background check just got tougher.  And it's soon going to get harder still, as Internet search technology grows more sophisticated. Employers have started scouring the web -- social networking sites in particular -- to check up on potential hires.

If you've ever posted anything that suggests you might be somebody who likes a racist joke, drinks too much booze, or maybe is a bit too fond of guns -- these all can be grounds for an employer telling you, "Thanks, but no."

And it's all perfectly legal.  The Federal Trade Commission has just given the okay for Social Intelligence Corp. to sell these reports to employers and the file will last for seven long years.

But suppose you're clean as a whistle with your online use of social network sites.  It's still possible that among your Facebook friends, unbeknownst to you, there's someone with a criminal record.  An employer could turn you down for having iffy friends and not run afoul of any employment discrimination law.

"You can be deemed a bad apple by association," says Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum.  "Are all your friends gay, rich, poor?  Do they all live in California or New York or Kansas?  What are your hobbies?  Do they look expensive or entail high risk?"

If so, Dixon warns, your chances of landing that dream job, depending on your would-be employer's predilections, may vanish.  The employer's decision not to hire you may be ethically outrageous.  But it's not illegal.

"It's kind of scary," says Tena Friery, research director for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.  "We know social networking sites can be hacked -- that someone can post something under someone else's name.  What happens if somebody wants to sabotage a job applicant?  And would the potential employee even know it was taking place?"

Likely not, says Michael Fertick, founder and CEO of Reputation.com, which provides products and services that a job seeker (or any other user of the Internet) can use to minimize the impact of false or inaccurate information posted about them.  It's not the present, says Fertick, that job seekers should fear: it's the future.

Right now only one company -- Social Intelligence in Santa Barbara, California -- specializes in conducting Internet background checks that are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The Act regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information.

Where a search turns up evidence that might be used to deny an applicant credit (or a job), it requires that employers notify applicants they are in danger of being disqualified and state the evidence on which disqualification would be based.  The applicant then has five days to dispute the finding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio