DISPUTE ACCURACY- 5 STEP CHECKLIST

 

If your expunged record has just shown up on a background check, it's time to dispute the accuracy of the background screener's report.

If you need more information on why your expunged record is showing up on background checks, go to our reference library. To solve a problem you must first understand it.

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How to Dispute a Background Check that Revealed Your Expunged Record.

Leveraging your rights under the FCRA, here is what you need to do:

  1. Get a copy of the erroneous report.
  2. Confirm your record is gone at the court level. You can usually do this online. Make sure it is the court where you were processed. You should get "No Results" when you query your full name/D.O.B. or case number.

    Download the Dispute Template
    Download the Dispute Template
  3. File a dispute with the offending CRA by customizing the "Dispute" letter template. Provide a clear statement that the accuracy or completeness of [enter specific information] is 'disputed' or 'challenged'. Request that the CRA delete or correct the information. For the least amount of friction, include full name, DOB, current address, previous address, telephone number, and a copy of the erroneous report with the error circled. The FTC provides additional guidance here. The CRA's address should be somewhere on the report. If not, you'll find it in our CRA database.
    • Many sources suggest including the expungement order with the dispute. We don't recommend doing this. There is no reason to tell anyone you have an expunged record... Defeats the purpose, right? Instead, simply say that the record they are reporting is "inaccurate or outdated." If you take this route, be sure to suggest that the CRA checks the record at the court level in your dispute. This way, if the CRA does not follow your reasonable suggestion, one could argue that the CRA did not conduct an adequate re-investigation (in court).
    • Use printed paper and snail-mail in order to keep copies and documentation of everything.
    • CRAs must provide a toll free phone number for disputes, so you can call if you like. Just be aware it's harder for documentation purposes and usually the person on the other end of the line tries to set up road blocks for you. If you are going to make a phone call to expedite the process even though you probably already lost the job anyway, at least follow up with written confirmation for documentation purposes. Also, if you phone in your dispute, you will be sending in your expungement documents (see first point).
    • CRAs have been known to refuse to accept a consumer's dispute unless provided with unnecessary items such as a SSN, a driver's license, signature, or other documents. None of these items are required by the FCRA! [Side note- CRAs don't use SSNs to pull court docs. The courts don't even list SSNs on their records! CRAs just love to make consumers jump through hoops]... The FCRA requires simply that "the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in a consumer's file at a consumer reporting agency is disputed by the consumer and the consumer notifies the agency directly, or indirectly through a reseller, of such dispute." The FCRA does NOT require that consumers submit disputes on any specific form (though many try to make you fill out specific forms- they can’t do that).
    • Avoid filing a dispute via the internet/CRA website. A couple of reasons why: it may never be touched by a human, you might have to 'check-box' an agreement which reduces CRA's liability in order to submit the form, and you are shooting data to who knows where.
  4. After you have sent the dispute, under federal law, CRAs have 30 days to complete the re-investigation initiated by the consumer's dispute. One 15 day extension is allowed if the CRA receives information from the consumer during the 30 day period that is relevant to the reinvestigation. THIS IS THE MAXIMUM TIME ALLOWED. Your timeline should be shorter. Also, many states have laws that sit on top of the FCRA that impose stricter time lines. The disputed information must be deleted if it cannot be verified. This will be the case when the CRA goes to the court level for your record that no longer exists. Remember, you already confirmed that record was no longer in existence in step 2.
  5. If you haven't received a response from the CRA in 30 days, you need to send a follow-up letter saying this is your second attempt to dispute. Also, be sure to include a copy of the original dispute letter. At this point, the CRA is in hot water and you have recourse. But you probably lost that job or house. Luckily, due to the recent stream of FCRA litigation, CRAs have become much more attentive in fixing errors that they have already made.

 

Congrats! Now you are through. With this one instance. With this one CRA.

If you don't want your expunged record to show up again, go here:
Keep my expunged record from showing up in the future.