How to get a free copy of your Background Check (Background Report)

The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you important rights to learn what is in your background check or background report. In most instances, you can obtain a copy of your report for free.

Under federal law, you are entitled to a free report from each consumer reporting agency that compiles information nationwide including public records or credit history, as well as from any nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency that maintains files about you related to medical records or payments, tenant, or rental history, check writing, employment or insurance claims. Most agencies that sell background checks meet one or more of these provisions.

You may obtain your free background report for other reasons as well

The most common reason you may request your free report is if an adverse action has been taken against you in the last 60 days. For example, if you have been denied a job or refused an apartment rental application.

You are also entitled to a free credit report, even beyond your annual one, if:

  • You have reason to believe that your report contains inaccurate information due to fraud (such as identity theft).
  • You are unemployed and intend to apply for employment in the next 60 days; or
  • You are on public assistance.

There are many National Background Check companies

You will need to request your background check or background report (also known as Consumer Full File Disclosure) from each specific background check company. Unlike consumer credit reports, unfortunately, there is not a central website you can use to obtain all of these types of reports.

In most instances, you must request a copy of your consumer file in writing. You should include your first, middle and last name, Social Security number, current and previous addresses, and date of birth. In addition, these agencies may require that you provide certain documents to prove your identity (such as a copy of a government ID, lease or a utility bill in your name).

If you have suffered an employment denial or residential lease denial, you should try to determine which company your employer or landlord used to obtain the background report information. Some of these agencies claim that they do not keep data on consumers unless the agency has provided a background report on the specific consumer to their customers.

You may use this sample form letter to request your credit report from any of these popular background check companies. (It is against the law for a reporting agency to refuse to provide you with a copy of your consumer report merely because you do not use their specific form.)

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