Whether a volunteer is required by law to submit to a background check depends on the type of organization for which the volunteer work is performed. Several state and federal laws regulate health and public safety organizations, some of which require screening of both employees and volunteers. There are also other laws that provide protection to at-risk populations, especially children. One such law allows the public to access information about convicted sex offenders. For more information and a link to state sex offender registries, see the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section at http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/ceos/index.html.
The laws that facilitate an organization’s screening of volunteers are the Volunteers for Children Act of 1998 (VCA) Public Law 105-251, which amended the National Child Protection Act of 1993 (NCPA), 42 USC § 5119(a) a.k.a. “Oprah’s Law” allowing volunteer organizations to access federal criminal records, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 USC §1681, if a background check is performed by a third-party background screening firm.
The Work Number Employment Data Report is limited to employment information, such as the name of employer, dates, position title and salary. The Work Number, which contains information from participating employers, is an employment and income verification service, not a background screening service. It is operated by TALX Corporation, which is owned by the credit reporting agency Equifax.
The Work Number will provide to the subject one free Employment Data Report every 12 months. The report can be obtained by calling TALX at (866) 604-6570 or going to http://www.theworknumber.com/Employees/datareport.asp.
“Specialty consumer reports” are compiled by specialty consumer agencies for targeted users such as insurance companies, employers, and landlords. The agencies collect information from a variety of sources and may include civil and criminal records, credit history, bankruptcy filings, driving records, business relationship information with banks or insurance companies, and even medical information.
Most consumers are unaware of the existence of a “specialty consumer report” unless they have been denied a job, insurance, or housing rental. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) imposes certain obligations on the specialty reporting agencies, the users of such reports, and those that furnish information for the reports. (See http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/credit/bus33.shtm for more information.) When adverse action is taken based on the information in the report, the FCRA mandates that users of specialty consumer reports provide to the subject an “adverse action notice” along with a free copy of the report. The subject also has the right to dispute inaccurate information.