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FTC puts background check sites on notice

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WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Tuesday warned several companies that the quick, easy background checks they are providing online might violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to 10 businesses, including sites like 4Nannies.com and USA People Search, after FTC staff posed as employers and creditors looking for information that could be used to deny a person a job, an apartment, or even insurance.

The law requires that companies providing information to potential employers, landlords, insurers, and creditors double check the accuracy of their records and notify a person if a background check has been done. And in some cases, the businesses need to make sure the person asking for the information has a legitimate purpose for receiving it.

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