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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Monday, July 15, 2013

Free background checks

Bungled background checks could cost you a job offer

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Have you seen what's out there on the Internet about you? I've got some free ways for you to get it done.

We're in an era when many online databases are publicly available. But the info that's available could be totally inaccurate.

Take my wife as an example. When you search her name, it looks like she had a sex change operation and is a criminal. That's right, my wife's name is co-mingled with that of a Floridian male prisoner -- or at least that's how it looks from a searcher's perspective!

Unfortunately, incorrect background checks that confuse people of same or similar name are costing job applicants that all-important job offer.

Some months ago, The Cleveland Plain Dealer  reported a decorated military veteran (with no criminal record) named Mark Johnson was unable to get a job offer at a trucking company because his file was married to that of a pedophile.

More and more employers are using automated background checking services that bungle information about the people they're supposed to be researching.

You have a right to correct things on a report, but there's no clearinghouse to guarantee that if you correct it with one group, every single other organization running background checks will also correct it. You have everything from mom-and-pop operations to big data companies doing background checks, according to the newspaper report.

So I have two pieces of advice here.

First, for you employers, make sure that you're using companies that employ human intelligence to run background checks. A computer won't get the job done.

Second, for you individuals, check your records yourself and see what's out there about you. You can also set up Google Alerts for free and that will let you know as new content is published with your name attached to it. Finally, my friend Kim Komando has several other free suggestions for you to check into.

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