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How the Fair Credit Act Relates to Social Media – What Your Business Needs to Know

November 4th, 2011

It’s a common practice nowadays for recruiters and HR professionals to integrate social media into background checks as part of the hiring process. While this practice should be handled with the utmost respect for the privacy of candidates, under current laws your business should use best practices in order to comply with employment laws. By understanding the legalities of accessing social media information, this can keep your business out of “hot water” and protect candidates’ information simultaneously.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that employers must treat all information gathered about a candidate’s background as strictly confidential. Additionally, if any information that’s used to make a determination not to hire an individual is the case, this must be provided to the candidate in writing.

Ultimately, candidates have the right to know if their credit histories, backgrounds, and other information are being used to decide their fate, so keep this in mind when venturing into social media to check out your candidates. The same FCRA rules apply to what’s found on those Facebook and Twitter feeds.

It is also interesting to note that the companies that sell background search results to employers have to carefully manage the way in which this information is provided, for the protection of individual candidates under FCRA guidelines. This means any information on a candidate’s background must be securely transmitted and candidates must be notified in writing about their rights under the FCRA laws, including their right to request a copy of their credit report or any other potentially damaging documentation.

As you peruse through the social media profiles of potential employees, keep the FCRA guidelines in mind. Also, consider that many times individuals use social media as a place to goof off, vent, and share personal thoughts – so it’s never a good idea to make a hiring decision based solely on this medium, but merely as another window on the candidate’s potential.

For support and advice concerning your staffing needs, be sure to work with the experts at Concorde Personnel who can guide you along the travails of social media recruiting.


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