By Kristen Wakulchuk


In most cases, the answer to the question, “Do you really need a candidate’s approval to run a background check?” is yes. With few exceptions, if you fail to take this step, you can leave yourself open to a costly lawsuit. So, before you launch a background screening policy, make sure you know all the rules or work with a trusted advisor who does. 

Consumer Rights Under FCRA

When you order a background check from a third-party provider, you must inform a job applicant of this practice and give them a copy of the completed report. This way, they can dispute anything they see as erroneous on the report. It’s their legal right under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). 

  • Your notification to a candidate must be in writing and must be a separate document from their application.  

Before you obtain or use information gleaned from a background check, you are required to certify to consumer reporting agencies that you have: 

  • Advised the candidate that a background check has been requested. 
  • Obtained the candidate’s written consent for the check, in a stand-alone document.  
  • Provided the candidate with a copy of their background report and a written summary of their rights under FCRA. This must occur at least five days before a hiring decision is made. 

FCRA regulations apply to standard background check services, such as criminal record searches and credit reports, as well as investigative reports where personal interviews are used. Online services fall under the same rules as any other third-party background check provider. 

In addition to FCRA, there may be specific state laws providing candidates with added protection, so it’s wise to be well-versed in those as well. 

What About Minors?

There are several factors to keep in mind when conducting a background or drug test on a minor. Third-party background checks for minors fall under FCRA, just as they do for other applicants. However, cases involving minors differ in that: 

  • Minors are generally unable to provide consent or enter into legally binding agreements, with few exceptions. Parents have the legal authority and must give their consent. When a minor is unable to provide parental consent, you should consult with your attorney for guidance. 
  • Even when parental consent is obtained, not all records usually requested will be available on minors. For example, most criminal records for minors are sealed. And, minors generally are unable to obtain credit until age 18. Past employment and educational records, however, should be available. 

Can’t I Do a Background Check Myself?

You’re better off working with an expert. Unless you have current expertise in this area, you could accidentally wade into grey ethical, moral, or legal areas. Chane Solutions is a nationally-recognized one-stop shop for all your employment screening and drug testing needs. Our team has decades of experience, knows all the nuances of screening processes and current regulations, and can provide the fastest and most accurate reports possible while ensuring you remain fully compliant. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.