When Expunged Records Still Show Up on a Background Check

Perhaps you had gone to court and successfully had a prior arrest or conviction expunged from your record. Or perhaps you were eligible for an automatic expungement—as is the case for many New Yorkers convicted of misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession. You were thrilled you could apply for a new job or an apartment, knowing the black mark was gone from your record. Then you did apply, only to discover that it was still there, and nothing had changed. Unfortunately, inaccurate employment or criminal background checks are an all-too-common problem. But you can take steps to change it.

The Background on Background Check Companies

According to a recent report by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), there are more than a thousand companies that provide criminal background checks, but just a handful of these dominate the market. Just three companies ran 56 million background checks in just 12 months.

They pull electronic records from many sources to create these reports, including consumer reporting agencies, databases, contractors, and subcontractors. Importantly, there are no set requirements for how often they must review data for accuracy or update information. Failing to expunge records is just one way these companies can fail. (Other examples include when they mix other people’s files or have errors on credit reports.)

While advocates push for additional legislation to regulate these companies, laws on the books already require these companies to issue accurate reports.

Sue the Reporting Bureaus

If a company does not update its information, you may sue the company, forcing it to update your record. Depending on your case, you may also be entitled to financial compensation. And federal law provides that the reporting companies must also pay attorneys’ fees when plaintiffs prevail in these cases.

If you’ve successfully expunged past arrests or convictions from your record, you deserve to have your record reflect that. Contact an attorney who specializes in representing clients like you—to help you repair your record,  obtain compensation, and put the past behind you so you can finally begin to build a new life.