The Differences in Resident and Employment Screening Reports

In the background screening world, there are sizable differences between employment screening and resident screening – yet both are commonly referred to by job applicants and rental applicants alike as background reports. So, what’s really behind your resident and employment reports? We’ve got all the answers on what makes these two consumer reports so different, and the legal penalties of mixing the two up.

Employment Screening vs. Resident Screening

Aside from the purpose in which each report is pulled for, your employment screening reports are quite different from your resident screening reports. From the use of credit reports and scores to legal restrictions, the similarities are few and far in-between.

The Similarities:

      • Can Have Criminal History Scans

While not all resident screening reports will include a criminal database scan (some properties only opt for the credit report), both employers and rental property owners are able to access criminal history through resident or employment screening. In fact, many employers typically opt for a criminal history scan, social security trace, and drug testing when screening their job applicants.

      • Social Security Trace

With CIC, both job applicants’ and rental applicants’ identities are verified using our powerful SSN trace. This searches our database of 1,000,000,000+ records from multiple sources to match your applicants to the right information.

      • Governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Consumer reporting agencies (your resident or employment screening service) and the consumer reports you depend must adhere to the FCRA. The FCRA is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.

      • Consent is Needed

Regardless of which report is being pulled, the applicant must give their consent before an employment screening report or a resident screening report is generated!

The Differences:

      • Credit Reports

Unless needed for a specific purpose, most employment screening reports do not include a credit report. According to Experian, companies in the defense, chemical, pharmaceutical and financial service industries typically request for credit in their employment screening. Even if a credit report is pulled for employment purposes, these credit reports are different from the ones included in resident screening.

Credit reports pulled for employment purposes have account numbers, the applicant’s year of birth, and references to their spouse are omitted. The employer will also not see the applicant’s credit score and the inquiry will not affect the applicant’s credit score.

      • Eviction Scans

While the multifamily housing industry might depend on seeing their applicant’s prior eviction history, H.R. managers processing employment screening reports do not need this information.

Some resident screening services don’t even offer nationwide eviction search, but CIC does.

      • Additional Employment Checks

Alongside a job applicant’s background check, employers might also want to screen for additional factors such as: driving records, drug testing, and educational and certification verifications. For example, companies hiring for a position that would frequently drive a company vehicle might want to verify their applicants have a current driver’s license and clean driving record with their employment screening company.

      • Legal Restrictions

While there are a lot of laws in place that protect job and rental applicants alike, there are also plenty of local and state laws that place specific regulations on employment or resident screening. For example, “Ban the Box” laws are extremely popular with most states (plus some individual counties) and affect employment screening. Commonly, these laws restrict when you can ask a job applicant about their criminal history. Although similar restrictions have started to surface for resident screening, it’s not quite caught on as it has with employment screening.

Check to see if your State or City has Ban the Box Laws Here!

Don’t Mix Them Up: Permissible Purpose & Legal Penalties

When it comes to resident and employment screening, there are more differences than similarities. If you’re lucky enough to be in charge of requesting both resident screening reports and employment screening reports, it’s imperative that you don’t get them mixed up. A mix up will not only confuse the consumer (your job applicant or rental applicant), but it could get you into legal trouble.

Under the FCRA, consumer reporting agencies (CRA) can only provide consumer reports to companies with a specific permissible purpose like employment or for rental housing decisions. Before signing on with your screening service, the CRA will verify that you’re legitimate and will certify you’ll use the reports only for employment or rental purposes (whichever you have permissible purpose for).

That’s why report mix ups are a big no-no. It not only puts your permissible purpose legitimacy into question with your CRA, but it also can put you into tons of legal trouble with your applicant – as they gave consent to pull a report for the opposite of what was pulled (i.e. consent for employment, but a resident screening report was pulled).

While there are huge differences between the two report types, be mindful that there are also differences in screening companies themselves. Although all credit reporting agencies must adhere to the same legal requirements, this does not guarantee that they are providing quality data, have up-to-date technology, or have great customer service. Learn more about what to look for in a quality employment screening service here.

What Employment or Resident Screening Myths Do You Want Busted Next?

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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