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FTC’s Advice on Screening Forms: Keep it Simple

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released new, nonbinding guidance regarding background check disclosure and authorization forms. The guidance stated that these forms should be clearly worded and not overwhelmed by “complicated legal jargon” or “extra acknowledgments or waivers.”

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act outlines the requirements for employers conducting background checks, and the legislation requires that employers disclose its intent to screen applicants or current employees and that the individual who will be screened provides written authorization allowing the screen to occur.

The report outline the types of language that should not be used by employers in disclosure and authorization documents. According to SHRM, these include:

  • Language that claims to release the employer from liability for conducting, obtaining, or using the background screening report.
  • Certification from the prospective employee that all information in the job application is accurate.
  • Language that asks the prospective employee to acknowledge that the hiring decision is based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons.
  • Overly broad authorizations that permit the release of information that the FCRA doesn’t allow to be included in a background screening report—for example, bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.
  • Additional acknowledgments or releases of liability. This extra information can make it hard for prospective employees to understand the main purpose of the documents and can possibly violate the FCRA. If you have additional disclosures to provide, it’s best to have them in a separate document.

So what is required? A simple, easy-to-understand notification that explains that you will obtain a background screening report. It’s also best to include what information will be included in the report. This should all be in plain language.

At KRESS, we understand that these requirements can be cumbersome and confusing. That’s why we take care of these forms for you when you order a KRESS background check. We ensure that all of our reports and forms are 100 percent FCRA compliant, as well as complaint with local and state-level regulations. To order your first background check for free, contact us today.

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