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FTC puts background check sites on notice

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm •  Published: May 7, 2013

As part of its recent inquiry, the FTC staff probed 45 companies. Berger declined to offer specifics on the 10 cases that were flagged, other than to say that most of the queries by FTC staff were conducted by phone and that in each case there was some indication that the company might not be complying with the law. Berger said it could be a matter of improving staff training or clarifying company policies.

If the FTC finds that the companies do not change their business practices, or if complaints are filed, the FTC could launch a formal investigation or eventually levy fines against the companies.

While most of the 10 companies promised general background checks, some of the companies identified by the FTC on Tuesday offered other more personalized data.

A company called Brokers Data, based in Columbia, S.C., for example, provided information that could be used to determine a person's eligibility for insurance. And in the case of ConsumerBase, the FTC said the Chicago-based company appeared to be selling lists of consumers who meet a certain financial criteria to lenders who make pre-approved credit offers.

In its letter, the FTC warned ConsumerBase that its sale of such lists could violate the law if ConsumerBase wasn't making sure the lists were accurate or notifying consumers.

"We want to make you aware of the requirements of this law so that you can ensure that your practices comply with it, insofar as you engage in such sales," the FTC wrote.

Brokers Data, ConsumerBase, and USA People Search did not immediately return phone calls requesting comment.