Category: Background Checks

DC Law to Limit Use of Credit Reports in Hiring Process

Special Announcement to all District of Columbia employers :

The District of Columbia has passed a law entitled the “Fair Credit History Screening Act (B21-0244)”, which limits the use of credit reports in the hiring process and decision. The mayor signed this bill on 02/15/17 and it becomes effective in 30 days.

The law states the following:

DC Code § 2–1402.11(a)(4)(D)

(a) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice to do any of the following acts, wholly or partially for a discriminatory reason based upon the actual or perceived: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, disability, matriculation, or political affiliation, or credit information of any individual:

4. By an employer, employment agency or labor organization. —

D. To directly or indirectly require, request, suggest, or cause any employee to submit credit information, or use, accept, refer to, or inquire into an employee’s credit information.

There are several exceptions, including but not limited to:

• Where an employer is otherwise required by District law to require, request, suggest, or cause any employee to submit credit information, or use, accept, refer to, or inquire into an employee’s credit information.

• Where an employee is applying for a position as or is employed as a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Department, as a special police officer or campus police officer.

• Where an employee is required to possess a security clearance under District law

• To financial institutions, where the position involves access to personal financial information

This law will require a review of the hiring process in place and may require changes to that process. The complete text can be found here:

Justifacts recommends that you consult with your legal department to determine what changes, if any, need to be made to your hiring process in order to comply with this law.

It is important to note that Justifacts is providing this information as a service to our clients. None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor is Justifacts engaged to provide legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult your attorney or legal department if you want assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

Tips for Confirming an Applicant’s Degree


Confirming degrees can be as easy as 1-2-3 or it could require quite a lot of additional information, follow-up, follow-through, and steps. There are times when specific information is required, so the more the merrier. We recommend providing as much information as is available. There have been many instances that have required a person’s exact name at the time of graduation, date of birth, Social Security number, student identification number, year of graduation, and exact location of the school. Of course there are verifications that require a school-specific waiver to be completed by your candidate. All information we have at our disposal means you have the best chance possible of not only having the results you require but having them back quickly.

International Education

If your candidate had gone to school abroad, Justifacts will provide you with the proper forms and details for verifying the education. We have an international network we utilize for international education confirmation with which we have had great success. We recommend, once you receive the criteria, that you submit everything to us at once, following the requirements carefully. This helps to avoid unnecessary delays or complications. For example, a degree copy may be required of the candidate and the candidate may, instead, substitute transcripts. While this may not hinder a verification, it may create a further delay in receiving the results. Our international vendors are responsive and flexible, but they have provided us with the guidelines based on the experience of verifying information in that specific country in question.

School Delays

Justifacts follows up with schools consistently while the verification is in process, but we never discourage a candidate from contacting the school to help facilitate the process, as well. School’s rely on alumni for many things, and a quick call by a former student to the school’s alumni association may go a long way. Also, a charming call to Mrs. Smith, Guidance Secretary, by a former student she may remember might just push that candidate’s request to the top of the pile.

Location, Location, Location

Sometimes school’s close. We probably all know of a school in our local area that has closed down for one reason or another. The more information we have about the situation, the faster and easier the verification will be for our verification specialists. A school could have merged with another, so a call to the new school would be required. A school might have closed down and sent all student records to the district office or to the Department of Education in that state. The more research involved by our team, the higher the chance of delays there becomes. Having that information upfront or even supplemented during the process by the applicant could make a world of difference. GEDs Throughout the years, Justifacts has seen many times when a candidate will put a testing site as the grantor for the GED. However, 99% of the time the GED is actually conferred through the Department of Education in the state in which they had tested. Also, there are times when a candidate will indicate that they had earned a high school diploma and will write down the last high school they had attended when they had actually earned a GED through the Department of Education. The process is initiated based on the information provided, so a second verification is typically required.

Verification Fees

In our industry we are seeing an increasing number of fees associated with verifications. Not only are the number of schools participating in the outsourcing of records increasing, but we are also seeing an increase in the fees. It is very helpful for our process if we know of a limit to the dollar amount the client would not like to go over automatically. For instance, many clients will approve all fees that are $15.00 and under without further permission for a verification. This helps us to avoid a day or two of emails requesting permission. We do support clients in any way we can, so if it helps with a client’s bookkeeping to know what to expect at invoice time we truly do understand and are flexible with that specification.

Facilitating the process is always a helpful prospect. However, we are a verification company at the end of the day, and we will sometimes go through many hurdles to provide to you what you need. We are in the business of helping our clients hire the right people, and we will do what it takes to make that happen.

Philadelphia to Prohibit Employers’ Use of Salary History in May 2017

The City of Philadelphia, PA passed a law (Bill# 160840) amending the Philadelphia general Code, Title 9 which prohibits employers from seeking for, or asking from job applicants, their wage history. The mayor of Philadelphia signed the law on 01/23/17 and it will be effective in 120 days.

The law makes the following an unlawful practice:

1) To inquire about a prospective employee’s wage history, require disclosure of wage history, or condition employment or consideration for an interview or employment on disclosure of wage history, or retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to comply with any wage history inquiry or for otherwise opposing any act made unlawful by this Chapter.

2) To rely on the wage history of a prospective employee from any current or former employer of the individual in determining the wages for such individual at any stage in the employment process, including the negotiation or drafting of any employment contract, unless such applicant knowingly and willingly disclosed his or her wage history to the employer, employment agency, employee or agent thereof.

This law will require a review of the hiring process in place, including any documentation or forms that all applicants must complete, and may require changes to that process.

Justifacts recommends that you consult with your legal department to determine what changes, if any, need to be made to your hiring process in order to comply with this law. The complete text of the legislation can be found here:

It is important to note that Justifacts is providing this information as a service to our clients. None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor is Justifacts engaged to provide legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult your attorney or legal department if you want assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

Justifacts Answers Your Frequently Asked Questions (Part 2)

Justifacts Frequently Asked Questions Part 2
The background screening process can get confusing at times. With so many different screening searches, law changes, and best practices it’s easy to see how the background check process could stir up many different questions. There are so many questions that this is a part 2 to our frequently asked background screening questions.

Be sure to check out part 1: Justifacts Answers Your Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to more of our frequently asked questions:

Why do I have to follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act when I’m not doing credit checks?

A: While the name – Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA – may be misleading, it does serve as the primary legislation regulating the background screening industry. Meaning, the FCRA applies when performing various background screening services; including criminal record checks, driving record reports, degree confirmations and employment history verifications…just to name a few. Therefore, when you are engaging the services of a background check provider (or CRA), you will be provided with various FCRA related information and certifications that will be necessary to complete/sign prior to requesting services.
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Why can’t we just conduct a national criminal database search?

A: There are a few components of a criminal background check that will provide you with a comprehensive background search, including the National Criminal Database Search (sometimes referred as a Multi-Jurisdictional Search). While we strongly recommend including the National Criminal Database as part of your background screening package, it does have some drawbacks and should only be relied upon as a “safety net”. One issue with this type of search is that it is limited in the criminal record information that is reported. The source information for each state varies, from as little as the sex offender registry to sources including all criminal cases filed through the states Administrative Office of Courts. Most states sources are very good, however there are others that are more limited.

When conducting the National Criminal Database as a stand-alone search, you may miss criminal records at some point. Additionally, under section 613 of the FCRA, there is a requirement that any public record information be current and up to date. Since most databases are updated on a periodic basis, there can be compliance issues with using a database product without further follow-up searches.

Our recommendation is to conduct a state or county level search, the national criminal database, a federal district court search, along with a social security one trace.

How does a national criminal check differ from a federal criminal record search?

A: It can certainly be confusing to decipher the difference between a national and federal level search…and why it’s important to have both as part of your background screening package. The national criminal database search offers a broad range of information – including criminal record information from across the country along with various sanction lists…and is often referred to as a safety net when used in conjunction with an individual county or state search. However, as we addressed in the question above, there are limitations to the national criminal database search.

What our Federal District Court Search provides is information pertaining to federal crimes…or crimes committed on federal property. And because of the way federal crimes are maintained, these types of crimes are not normally shared with other sources; such as state, county and national searches. While we don’t find as many criminal records at the federal level, as compared to the county level, we do find them…and they tend to be high-level or white-collar crimes in nature.

This is why it is important to conduct both a national and federal search, along with a county and/or state search.

Why is a 2-Letter Adverse Action Process needed?

A: While recently giving a couple of presentations on FCRA compliance, we have found that there is a high percentage of employers who are not using a 2-letter process when initiating adverse action against an applicant. In addition, we have seen dozens of class-action lawsuits against employers for not using a 2-Letter. Section 604(b)(3) of the FCRA requires a “Pre-adverse” letter whenever requesting a report for employment purposes. The purpose of having a 2-Letter process in place is that it gives the applicant an opportunity to dispute or contest any of the information contained in his/her background report. This is properly executed with the Pre-Adverse Action Letter (or first letter) being sent…then followed by an Adverse-Action Letter (or second letter).

Why is it important to work with an Accredited NAPBS company?

A: The National Association of Professional Background Screeners – commonly referred to as the NAPBS – has maintained that there is a strong need for a singular, cohesive standard for the background screening industry. Beginning in 2003, the NAPBS has grown to having over 700 members in its group, with less than 2% being ‘accredited’ by the NAPBS.

To become accredited, consumer reporting agencies must pass a rigorous onsite audit, conducted by an independent auditing firm, of its policies and procedures as they relate to six critical areas: consumer protection, legal compliance, client education, product standards, service standards, and general business practices.

Thus by working with an ‘accredited’ background screening company, you can feel confident that your background check provider (or CRA) is looking out for the best interests of its clients, along with their applicants/employees.

Justifacts was proudly accredited by the NAPBS in September, 2014.

What’s the importance of conducting a Social Security Trace?

A: The Social Security Trace serves as a name and address verification search, thereby we can find out if your applicant has lived outside of their current county or state. By conducting a Social Security Trace, we can also determine if your applicant has an alias or maiden name associated with their social security number.

This is important because of how criminal records are stored in the court systems…meaning we can determine if your applicant has a criminal record history under a different name…or outside of their current residence/jurisdiction.

How can we tell if an applicant received a degree from a diploma mill?

A: By definition, a diploma mill is an organization that issues counterfeit diplomas bearing the name of real universities…and qualifications that aren’t accredited and/or not based on proper academic assessment. These types of diplomas are commonly associated with work or life experience and not actual study. With diploma mills, degrees can be obtained in as little as a few days to a few weeks.

Characteristics include Accreditation (lacking authenticity), Teaching (not based on hard or proven sciences), Facilities (lacking tangibles of a brick and mortal school), and Promotion (primarily used for securing employment by paying a set fee).

Can you speak on deciding factors when reviewing credit check results?

A: The laws applying to credit check reports are significantly different from the laws governing criminal record checks when making a decision whether or not to hire an applicant. Credit checks are more of a “gray area” when companies are using them to determine suitability for hire. One of the most helpful areas of the credit report to review is found in the Profile Summary section, as it provides a summation of the applicant’s overall credit standing/history. Certainly other factors to look at include delinquencies, bankruptcies, liens, etc… With the growing number of states who are limiting the use of credit reports for purpose of employment, it is important to remember to conduct a credit check only on individuals who will have access to financial data, cash, credit cards, etc…and as it pertains to their job responsibilities.

When an employer is located in one state, but the candidate lives in another state that has restrictions not applicable in the employer’s state, do the laws in the employer’s state or the laws in the applicant’s state apply?

A: State laws can vary widely. Some laws are directed at employers while others are protections for consumers. For maximum compliance and to avoid unnecessary litigation, Justifacts suggests using both the applicant location and hiring location to determine which laws apply.

What is the danger of using Social Media Searches to screen applicants?

A: The risk employers need to understand, when using social media as part of their recruiting process, occurs when the process moves from sourcing to screening candidates.

Social media is an ideal way to find and recruit candidates, however the difficulty occurs when information provided on social media sites is used to screen or eliminate a candidate from consideration. This elimination, when based on data found through social media content opens the employer to the potential risks of liability, discrimination claims and non-compliance with regulations.

Given this point, it’s important that companies have policies in place that protect against discriminatory practices and are explicit in how social media information can be used by employers in the hiring process.

Build a Better Criminal Background Search [Infographic]

Build a Better Criminal Record Search Infographic
We’ve all seen the tragic headlines by now about Jared Fogle and his admission to some very serious and disturbing federal offenses. I think we can all agree that most of us would like to keep individuals like Jared Fogle far away from us. In fact, these types of dangerous individuals may be the very reason why we do background checks.

The question is, would your current background screening program catch a criminal like Jared Fogle who has committed a federal offense? You may be surprised to hear that if a federal criminal record search is not part of your current background screening program, the answer is ‘No’. Federal offenses are not included in County, State, or National Criminal database searches.

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To best protect your organization, it is essential to understand the different types of criminal record searches and how they work. Much like a great sandwich, a great criminal record check process is built with layers. Taking the time to learn about each type of criminal record search and matching the appropriate search to the appropriate job position will ensure you hire a hero instead of a zero.

Building A Hero Out of Your Criminal Record Search Infographic
Of course, a healthy criminal background check program needs to be ongoing. Scheduled post hire monitoring helps make sure that your employees are maintaining the safe, responsible conduct you require.

Looking for more information about which criminal record search options are best for your organization? Please contact us at (800) 356-6885 or email us at, we’d love to hear from you!
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