Many property owners mistakenly believe they are entitled to credit reports, background checks and screenings on applicants and tenants for their properties. They are often surprised when we tell them no. Let us try and explain why.
When WILMOTH Group (or anybody who goes through the process of being approved to obtain these records) signs a contract with a background screening provider to obtain confidential information there are conditions. Those conditions include:
- Limits on the data to be shared with employees and legal contract workers of our company.
- WILMOTH Group becomes legally liable for Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations as to the handling of this information.
- WILMOTH Group also becomes legally liable for Fair Housing Act (FHA) violations.
Sharing the background report, the credit report, or credit score, with a third party (includes the property owner) that is not specifically covered and disclosed in the background screening Authorization & Disclosure Form, is a violation of the policies of all three credit bureaus. It also is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
In other words, if the Authorization & Disclosure Form completed by the applicant authorizes WILMOTH Group to obtain a background report, then only our employees or legal contract workers can view that report. By sharing the report, without proper authorization, WILMOTH is opening itself up to losing their credit report access privileges. Loss of these privileges would substantially harm our business or ability to operate.
Sharing background screening information with owners can make us a prime candidate for a class action lawsuit by all consumers for whom their reports were shared with unauthorized third parties. Additionally, such actions could subject WILMOTH Group to be the target of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation and be subject to fines.
These legal penalties are the reasons why we will tell all owners that the information we obtain to screen tenants will not be available for their review. We will present our reasons for approval to the owner in a limited, legal, manner that respects the privacy of the applicants.