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Lost Promotion. Lost House: The Domino Effect of Bad Background Checks

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Quality - it’s the word heard ‘round the employment background screening industry. And while we all know that the quality of background screening data provided in a consumer report is important, it can be easy to lose sight of the consequences incorrect data can have on a person’s life. Here at SJV, we work relentlessly to provide our Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) clients with clean, reliable and relevant background screening data. But our desire to provide quality data goes beyond producing impressive results, KPI’s and statistics. We know that the employment background check data we provide, and the decisions made based on that data, can have massive impacts for the individuals we screen. 

Sydney Landes, our Quality Assurance Manager, recently sat down with an anonymous SJV employee who shared their personal experience dealing with an inaccurate background check. Their story highlights the why behind our focus on quality.

Clearly, the employer in the story didn’t use a reputable background screening company to conduct this criminal background check.

Sydney: You’ve informed me that you were screened when you were working with your previous employer and the background check resulted in an error. Can you tell me about that?

Employee: I had applied for a promotion within the company and because the role was in a management position we had to re-do my background check. It returned that I had a felony record - which I definitely don’t.

Sydney: And how did this error impact you?

Employee: The company I was working for at the time sold guns, and managers had to be able to sign off on background checks for the sale, and as a felon, you can’t do that. So we had to go through this huge process trying to prove that I was not a felon and that I didn’t need to be fired.

Sydney: That sounds incredibly difficult to deal with. What steps did you have to take to correct that issue?

Employee: I was notified of the background check results through the mail and according to the letter I had 7 calendar days after the letter was mailed to dispute the record. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the letter until 5 days after it was mailed, meaning I only had two days to get in contact with our HR department and have them dispute the error.

Sydney: And once you filed the dispute, how long did it take to get resolved?

Employee: It took three weeks for the corrected results to come back.

Sydney: Wow, three weeks is a very long time to wait to resolve something like this. What was the ultimate outcome of this situation?

Employee: The corrected results came back, I’m not a felon - surprise! But unfortunately, the damage was already done. My company had to fill that role and I lost out on the promotion. As a result, I missed out on a housing program in our community to buy a new house. So not only did I miss out on a promotion within my career, I ended up having to move in with family, which wasn’t horrible, but definitely wasn’t ideal.

Sydney: It sounds like you were working on a lot of positive things in your life and because of the error in the background check, they ended up falling through. Maybe if you had gotten those corrected results faster you could have gotten that promotion and that new home.

Employee: Absolutely.

Sydney: What would you want others in the industry to take away from your story?

Employee: Mostly that our accuracy and what we report has ripples. One little mistake can have impacts far beyond just that initial check.

Sydney: I could not agree more. This is the perfect example of the impact that incorrect results can have and why quality is so important to SJV.

As you can see, there are layers of implications for the background checks we conduct. Had the criminal record check been accurate, their employer would have had a valuable team member who could have grown their career at this company for the foreseeable future. She also would have been able to demonstrate the income needed to approve her mortgage. Their loss has been SJV Data Solutions’ gain.