The faulty FBI files that can mess up your current career or career prospects

Posted on September 2, 2013

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By Madeline Neighly, Special to CNN

CNN) — No amount of economic growth will land you a job if you get unfairly snagged in the FBI‘s faulty background check system. And you can lose your job because of the FBI file inaccuracies, too.

After working without incident at a Philadelphia port for 33 years, Russ F. was told he was out of a job when a newly required post-9/11 security clearance check found an arrest dating back to 1971. Charges were never filed, and Russ was never prosecuted.

But the nearly 40-year-old arrest was reported on his FBI background check with no additional information, and Russ needed months to track down documentation to prove he had never been convicted or even charged with a crime. Only then could he regain his job.

A National Employment Law Project report found the FBI ran a record 16.9 million employment background checks — a six-fold increase from a decade ago — for jobs ranging from child care to truck driving, port workers to mortgage processors. Although background checks can contribute to workplace safety, inaccuracies in the FBI database mean that these checks are blocking about 600,000 Americans a year from jobs for which they may be perfectly qualified. This unfair barrier to employment can and must be fixed.

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