Great news! Your application for a job has gotten as far as having a background check, so the company must be interested. But wait a minute – they expect you to pay for it? If you’ve applied for a job and had a response from an employer asking you to foot the bill for a background check, then you may be more than a little suspicious. It’s understandable because although some legitimate businesses do this (often those operating on a smaller budget), it’s not common practice. It’s also something that scammers have picked up on. We took a closer look to make sure you know whether you’re paying to land that dream job or if you’re actually getting taken for a ride.
Is It Legal To Ask Employees To Pay?
It’s legal to ask a prospective employee to pay for their own background check in most states – even if it isn’t that common and doesn’t leave a great first impression. However, the various state laws make things more complicated and there are some states where this is illegal altogether.
The legality can depend primarily on what kind of information is being obtained. For instance, in Iowa employers have to pay for any state or national criminal record check, while in Kentucky, the same is true only when it comes to medical checks. But in California, an employee can’t be required to pay for a background check if it’s a condition of their employment. And in Minnesota, the employer must pay for any employee checks themselves.
One thing that is true across every state is that payment for a background check doesn’t imply consent to have one run – regardless of who foots the bill. Written permission is always needed for any employment background check due to FCRA regulations.
Of course, you have every right to refuse a background check. Indeed, privacy is a concern for all of us, and you might not want your employer snooping on your personal life – like those who check social media profiles. But many companies have policies that require a check, and by refusing it it’s extremely unlikely the employer will continue with your application process.
Beware of Scams
You’ve probably seen an advertisement online for a job where you can make thousands of dollars a day from the comfort of your home. Of course, this is too good to be true and it’s one of the many job scams around. But some scammers up their game with advertisements and websites that look legitimate – even giving fake interviews for jobs that don’t exist. From here, they might ask their new ‘employee’ to pay for training materials and a background check with the promise of a future refund. All the while the scammers are helping themselves to personal information like your bank details, passport information, and Social Security number.
The average loss from this kind of scam is $3,000, not to mention the fact that all the data the scammer collected leaves the person open to identity theft. If you give money to someone you think is scamming you, it’s a good idea to contact your bank right away.
Should You Pay for an Employment Background Check?
So, what should you do when you’re asked to pay for a background check? First, research as much as you can about the company to make sure you’re not being scammed. Carefully check their website, look for reviews by previous candidates, and make sure to put the company’s name and ‘scam’ into a search engine to see if there are any results.
After all, there are plenty of trustworthy and reliable background check services out there designed for employers. So, as long as you’re confident in the company and eager for the job, you shouldn’t worry about paying for a check. It can even be a good idea to run a check on yourself first before applying for a job as preparation is always the key to success.
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