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What happens when good companies hire BAD background screeners

The Federal Trade Commission and #WiseChoice ActiveTracks, LLC help both property managers and consumers learn how to avoid incompetent background screenings.

“As a landlord, if you choose to run a full background screening (on your tenants) to include a criminal history report, it is imperative you utilize a background screening company who is a member in good standing with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS),” said Kevin Helms, president and CEO of ActiveTracks, LLC, your exclusive #WiseChoice for background screening solutions.

Some property managers didn’t do that — and it led to a federal lawsuit.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently sued Texas-based RealPage, a company the FTC said sells tenant screening reports to landlords. RealPage is not a member of the NAPBS, according to the association’s membership directory.

The FTC said RealPage failed to verify the accuracy of its reports before it sold them to property managers. As a result, some of those managers may have unfairly denied housing to prospective tenants based on inaccurate criminal records. RealPage ended up paying $3 million to settle the FTC’s charges. The whole affair put those property management companies in a real legal bind, all because they hired a screening company with absolutely zero NAPBS credentials.

Helms said once an employer or property manager has established the background screening company is a member of NAPBS, they need to find out how the screener gets its information. “Ask questions to insure that the screening company goes to the direct source to verify information, and they do not just use a database that could have incorrect records,” Helms said. “As a landlord, you also need to be consistent with what your qualifications are and review all tenant laws in the federal and state systems to make sure your standards are in line with those laws.”

As a prospective tenant, you can protect yourself from an unlawful or inaccurate screening by following these FTC guidelines:

  • Go to to get your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. That way, you can fix any errors before a landlord sees them.
  • Give the landlord your correct full name and date of birth. This helps make sure he or she gets information on the right person.
  • If you have a criminal history or previous housing court actions, gather any paperwork showing how the action was resolved.

“Make sure you request a copy of the (screening) report on completion of the screening for your review and for your records,” Helms added. “If there are discrepancies on the report, contact the screening company to learn how to dispute the findings. A reputable company will guide you on what to do and the actions they are bound to take if the proper information is presented to them to confront the dispute.”

The FTC also posted this excellent blog about how to prepare for a background check when you’re renting and what to do when the landlord gets it wrong.

Copyright 2018 Wise Choices TM. All rights reserved.



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