Background Checks – Ethics and privacy issues


Did you know that it is illegal to deny the right of tenancy or employment offers to people if the decision was based on the acquired background check report and the landlord employer does not have the consent of the applicant.

There are many rules and laws governing fair and appropriate use of public information records. This was not always the case, with the rise of online searching on individuals, the appropriate use of data protection regulations on the use and sale of public data record was previously very poorly defined.

Here are some of the party and legislation that have had a significant effect on the background check industry.


In 1997 a voluntary and self-managed group of companies came together to form individual References Services Group (IRSG). Promise them (they were all industry insiders) was to define and adopt a set of internal control principles pertaining to disclosure of private or personal data

Eleven principles were defined. including Education, accuracy, restrictions on the distribution of non-public information, privacy and protection for children.

The IRSG, in 2001 as stringent enforceable legislation was set.


Although the IRSG, were self-governing and organization, the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) is legislation that has a very specific language about the use of public data record for decisions on employment or rental. The FCRA defines a background check report (and credit report for that matter) that “consumer report” and put various restrictions on aging and the use of public data record. Here good reference for more information about the FCRA legislation surrounding employment background check.


On November 12, 1999 The conference is the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act. While this broad bill dealt with many other issues that created a very special legislation on the use of private financial data. This is relevant to a lot of public record data distributed in the form of background check was sourced from data from credit bureaus, such as trams Union, Equifax and Experian.


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