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Glossary of Background Check Terminology

Mitigating the risks associated with hiring new employees and staying compliant with industry mandates requires a strong background check policy. But background checks and the laws surrounding them are complex. The following is a list of commonly used terms and their definitions intended to help organizations expand their comprehension of compliant employment background screening.

Adverse Action—An adverse action is any action taken based on the results of a background check that adversely affects the candidate. This can be anything from withdrawing a job offer to terminating employment.

Background Check or Background Screen—This term refers to an amalgamation of information collected about a job applicant by a consumer reporting agency (CRA) for the purpose of making an employment decision.

Ban the Box—Ban the Box refers to laws that prevent employers from including a check box on job applications that asks candidates to indicate the presence of previous criminal convictions. Banning this check box prevents outright discrimination against candidates with a criminal history and gives employers the opportunity to consider the merits of applicants on a case-by-case basis.

Compliance—Compliance refers to the need for employers and CRAs to act in accordance with federal, state, and other regulatory authorities in all matters pertaining to the collection, use, and disposal of background check information.

Consent—Entities requesting background check information are required to obtain written permission from the individual being screened. This consent must be given using a stand-alone document that discloses that a background check will be requested and what information will be checked.

Consumer Report—A consumer report, as defined by the FCRA, is any report compiled by a CRA for the purpose of establishing an individual’s eligibility for employment, credit, tenancy, insurance, or other similar purposes.

Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA)—A CRA is any agency that collects and assembles consumer information in order to prepare a consumer report. Background check agencies are one example of a CRA.

Disputes—Disputes are raised when consumers identify incorrect information on their background check report.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—The EEOC is the Federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws against discrimination in the workplace.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)—The FCRA is a federal law governing how CRAs and end-users are allowed to request, obtain, and use private consumer information.

NAPBS (National Association of Professional Background Screeners)—The NAPBS is a non-profit trade association of companies offering background screening services. It establishes and promotes important ethical and performance standards for its members.

Summary of Rights—Consumers must be given a copy of a Summary of Rights under the FCRA.

If you have more questions about terms related to CRA background checks, contact your background screening agency for more information.

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