If you are a consumer, as opposed to a business owner or human-resource professional, you probably do not run background checks very often. Maybe to check out a boyfriend, or a self-check prior to interviewing for a job. These are all casual searches that do not affect someone else’s job, credit, or housing. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) doesn’t apply, and there are few legal issues involved.

But the rules are different for nanny background checks. In hiring someone to look after your children, you will almost certainly want to run a criminal check, and maybe a driving record check as well. But now, you are a potential employer. What is the difference?

First, you should use an employment screening website, such as SentryLink, that is truly FCRA compliant — many are not. You must obtain a signed release from your babysitter before running the background check. If you find something in the background check that would prevent you from hiring or retaining her, you must notify her of that fact and give her a copy of the background report, along with the FCRA summary of rights. She may want to dispute the results of the report directly with the source that provided it, which is why an FCRA compliant provider is important.

As an employer, you will need to follow the rules given by the FCRA for employers. For full details, including a link to a nanny background check release form, please see our employer’s guide at Understanding FCRA rules for employment screening.

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