We’re going back to basics on Protect Youth Sports this week. Our goal is explaining some of the basic laws of background checks and what employees and volunteers need to know about how youth sports organizations and the Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) with whom they partner, should be protecting their credit information.

Who We Are

By law, a company is a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) if it assembles and evaluates consumer report information and provides those reports to third parties, for monetary purposes. Therefore, any business that uses consumer reports for employment and staffing verification purposes has to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Protect Youth Sports is a CRA and must follow the letter of the FCRA law.

However, when most people think of the FCRA they think of credit reporting and consumer protection. A CRA, in the eyes of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), whether reporting credit or personal information for other purposes, such as employment, is one in the same – meaning the methods by which one can dispute the accuracy of that information is also the same. Failing to implement any of the accuracy, dispute, or other safeguards required by the law could be harmful.

Credit Information

Credit protection is key when it comes to conducting accurate background checks. Many youth sports organizations, especially those that have a robust operating budget, should take credit checks among applicants, employees and volunteers seriously. Fraud is one of the most popular crimes committed at the league level. So how is credit protection enforced when it comes to background checks?

Let’s take a look.

According to the FTC, “The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) helps ensure the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of the information provided by consumer reporting agencies. The FCRA also holds consumer reporting agencies and the creditors that provide the information in your credit report responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.”

In other words, Protect Youth Sports has protocols and safeguards in place to help us stay in compliance with the FCRA. If any of your personal information relating to your credit data and/or credit report is inaccurate, compromised and somehow used against you, the FCRA protects you and your financial interests. This is important because your credit history – which is collected, compiled and stored by CRAs – may be used by employers, landlords, utilities, courts, banks, creditors and other financial institutions to make decisions about your credibility and reliability. Other examples of CRAs include specialty agencies that sell information about check writing histories, medical records, and rental history records.

The FCRA originally popped up in 1970 around the same time as the Consumer Credit Protection Act. These bills set guidelines for employers to protect employees, mainstreaming an official process for what we now call background screening.

The FTC states that the FCRA provides you certain rights when it comes to your credit. Here’s a summary:

  • You must be told if information in your file has been used against you
  • You have the right to know what is in your file (you can request a free credit report every 12 months from each nationwide credit bureau and from nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies).
  • You have the right to ask for a credit score.
  • You must give your consent for reports to be provided to employers.
  • You may limit “prescreened” offers of credit and insurance you get based on information in your credit report.
  • You may seek damages from violators.

Reach Out to Us

This is a lot to digest. We get it. If you have questions about the FCRA and your credit protection, please let us know. If we don’t know the answer right away, we’ll find it for you.

But the biggest piece of advice we can give you is to be an active participant in your credit history. Expect that youth sports organizations will request and, perhaps, require one before you can participate as an employee or volunteer. Embrace the steps that more youth sports organizations are taking to safeguard themselves and their child participants from inviting criminals or untrustworthy people into their folds. These precautions will only serve to keep more people safe.