Changes to our criminal background checks

Starting in June 2024, SentryLink is required to collect additional information in order to perform criminal background checks:

  • Either a social security number for the applicant, or an affirmative statement that this person has no valid SSN.
  • [DEFERRED — will not be required on June 1] The address of the applicant. This is the current address of the report subject.

For more details, please keep reading.

Social Security Number of applicant, or affirmation

Almost all of our customers already put in an SSN, which is the best way to ensure accuracy and speed. For those few who do not, it will now be required.

If you have a candidate without an SSN, you may check the box stating that this person does not have an SSN. That statement will be printed on the final report. Making this statement may affect the accuracy of the search, so please do not use this option unless it is true.

Address of applicant (Deferred — this will not be required immediately)

This is the current residence of the person you are running the report on. It will allow us to perform a faster search, especially for applicants with common names. It will be used for compliance with the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) and full file disclosure.

We […]

By |May 8th, 2024|Categories: Background checks, Criminal checks|

Navigating the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act: A Guide for Employers

On September 1, 2023, the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act, or House Bill 2127, will be coming into effect. For employers across the state, particularly those who are concerned about local ordinances when conducting employment screening, this Act may add some consistency and clarity. Let’s explore what this means for businesses operating in Texas.

Understanding the Shift

The Texas Regulatory Consistency Act has been crafted with the intention of streamlining regulations across Texas. Its primary aim is to prevent cities and counties from enforcing or enacting rules that conflict with state statutes, unless expressly permitted by another law. With this Act, businesses can expect a more standardized regulatory landscape, particularly in areas ranging from workers’ rights to property matters.

Central to the Act is the concept of preemption, where state laws will have precedence over local ordinances. In practical terms: if a local law conflicts with a state law, the latter will prevail. This ensures that businesses have a uniform set of guidelines to follow, regardless of the city or county in which they operate.

The Act is fairly broad — while it does not cover every single regulatory area, it does specifically include employment practices:

employment leave, hiring practices, breaks, employment benefits, scheduling practices, and any other terms of employment that exceed or conflict with federal or state law for employers other than a municipality or county.

employment leave, hiring practices, breaks, employment benefits, scheduling practices, and any other terms of employment that exceed or conflict with federal or state law for employers other than a municipality or county.

By |August 31st, 2023|Categories: Employment screening, Government, Legal|

FTC Issues Guidance to Landlords on Using Consumer Reports: Everything You Need to Know

In July 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released important guidance for landlords, property managers, and other housing providers who utilize tenant background checks for making housing decisions. Landlords often require a deeper understanding of their applicants than employers do, requiring in-depth background checks. This guidance aims to ensure clarity and compliance.

It also seeks to clarify adverse actions, and when tenants should be notified of them. The FTC appears to be concerned that tenants are not always receiving the notices they are entitled to by law.

Understanding Tenant Background Checks

When landlords evaluate housing applications or decide on lease renewals, they often use tenant background checks. Such checks can reveal information ranging from rental and eviction history to credit records and criminal backgrounds.

These background checks are, in essence, consumer reports. When landlords use these reports for decision-making, they must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which the FTC oversees.

Essentials of the Fair Credit Reporting Act

What is a Consumer Report?

Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) compile these reports for businesses, including landlords. They can encompass:

  • Comprehensive reports that […]
    • Credit reports from major bureaus like Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax.
    • Rental history reports from tenant screening companies.
    • Criminal history from background check companies.
    • Comprehensive reports that […]
  • By |August 23rd, 2023|Categories: Credit checks, Criminal checks, FCRA, Government, Tenant screening|

    Chicago amends its ban-the-box ordinance

    On April 24, 2023, the Chicago City Council voted to amend the city’s ban-the-box ordinance, which restricts when and how private employers may ask about a job applicant’s criminal history. The amendments expand the ordinance’s coverage and impose new compliance obligations on Chicago employers. Many employers that were exempt under the old rules no longer are, and penalties have significantly increased.

    What is Chicago’s Ban-the-Box Law?

    Chicago enacted its original ban-the-box ordinance in 2014. It prohibited employers from asking applicants about their criminal record until after making a conditional job offer. After that point, employers could only withdraw the offer based on the applicant’s criminal history if they performed an individualized assessment showing the conviction history disqualified the applicant from the position.

    The original law only applied to private employers who are located in or do business in Chicago and have 15 or more employees. It did not apply to certain positions, like jobs requiring a government-issued security clearance. Violations carried fines of $500 to $1,000 per offense.

    Chicago’s ban-the-box ordinance aimed to improve employment opportunities for individuals with conviction histories. Nationwide, over 70 million Americans have a criminal record. Advocates argue questions about criminal history early in the hiring process disproportionately screen out minority applicants and those who were incarcerated. Ban-the-box laws allow employers to consider criminal records later, but only after judging applicants on their qualifications.

    Key […]

    By |July 12th, 2023|Categories: Background checks, Criminal checks, Employment screening, Government, Legal|

    California’s evolving background check landscape

    California is well-known for innovative laws regarding individual rights. As background checks have become increasingly important for employment and housing, California has moved to regulate them. Although California laws are stricter than most states, they have often served as a template for others to follow. A few of the bills being considered could have dramatic effects if they should pass. In this blog post, we will delve into some of the proposed and recently passed background check bills in California that impact employee and tenant screening.

    Senate Bill 809: Fair Chance Act of 2023 – Limiting Employers’ Access to Applicants’ Conviction Histories

    Senate Bill 809, also known as the Fair Chance Act of 2023, is an extension of the Fair Chance Act passed in 2018. It seeks to restrict most private employers from using a job applicant’s conviction history in their hiring decisions. The 2018 act provided a version of ban the box, in which criminal history could not be considered until after a conditional offer of employment. But the unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated individuals is still very high — claimed to be 60% — and the new bill aims to fix that.

    Under the bill, employers would only be permitted to request a conviction history report if:

  • the conviction history is directly and adversely related to the specific […]
    • federal or state law mandates it, or
    • the conviction history is directly and adversely related to the specific […]
  • The OIG Exclusion List: A critical tool for healthcare employers

    The Office of Inspector General (OIG) Exclusion List is a tool used to ensure that individuals or entities who are excluded from participating in federal healthcare programs are not hired or engaged by healthcare providers, suppliers, or contractors. The OIG Exclusion List is maintained by the OIG, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Checking this list is part of our national criminal background check.

    The OIG Exclusion List, also known as the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE), contains the names of individuals and entities that have been excluded from participating in federal healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The list includes individuals and entities who have been convicted of healthcare-related crimes, such as fraud or abuse, or who have been found to have violated certain program requirements. The list ensures that those who have committed healthcare-related crimes are not able to continue participating in these programs and receiving payment for services they provide.

    There are two types of exclusions: mandatory exclusions and permissive exclusions. Mandatory exclusions are required by law and apply to individuals and entities who have been convicted of certain crimes, such as patient abuse or neglect, or who have had their healthcare licenses revoked or suspended. Mandatory exclusions can last for a minimum of five years and can be extended based on the severity of the offense.

    Permissive exclusions, on the other hand, are discretionary and apply […]

    By |April 7th, 2023|Categories: Background checks, Employment screening, Government|
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