Employer Certification: What is it, and why does it matter?

signature If you have requested an employment-related credit or background check from AAA Credit Screening recently, you may have been notified of a requirement you were missing from your request: an employer certification form. You may have found yourself asking: what is an employer certification form, and what is the purpose of this document?

The employer certification form is required for AAA Credit Screening’s compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)1. The FCRA mandates that a consumer reporting agency such as AAA Credit Screening can only supply reports for employment purposes if:

“the person who obtains such report from the agency certifies to the agency that […] (i) a clear and conspicuous disclosure has been made in writing to the consumer at any time before the report is procured or caused to be procured, in a document that consists solely of the disclosure, that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes; and (ii) the consumer has authorized in writing […] the procurement of the report by that person” (§ 604 – 15 U.S.C. § 1681b)

In short, this section of the FCRA requires that any employer requesting a consumer report for “employment purposes” must give “certification,” or written confirmation, to their reporting agency that they have given the proper disclosures to and obtained an authorizing signature from an individual before requesting an employment screening on said individual. The easiest way to comply with this certification requirement is to simply complete and sign the employer certification form that AAA Credit Screening Services provides for our clients.

Note that the employer certification form must be completed every time you request a screening. In this way, it is different from our Client Service Agreement or Criminal Reporting Policies Form, which are one-time requirements for sign-up with AAA Credit Screening Services. The one exception is during batch orders or multiple orders on the same applicant. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who controls the FCRA, has stated2 that “blanket certification” is acceptable in the case of multiple orders made on the same day “as a practical matter.” Additionally, they have said that it is acceptable “if an employer submits a blanket certification for purposes of obtaining consumer reports on an employee during the term of that individual’s employment.”

It is AAA Credit Screening Services’ duty as a consumer reporting agency to comply with the FCRA. To stay informed about employment screening and how the FCRA affects your company, be sure to follow the AAA Credit Screening blog!


1 For the full document of FCRA online
2 As stated in “Advisory Opinion to Kilgo” (07-28-98)


Most of your applicants know that a bad reference from a landlord or employer could easily disqualify them. What, then, stops your applicant from using a service such as careerexcuse.com or paladindeception.com, whose main objective is to provide fake references to potential landlords or employers? CareerExcuse boasts references for both “blue collar” and “white collar” jobs, with live phone operators and convincing company e-mails, phone lines, and “professionally located company” addresses and websites which can be used to deceive you, the landlord or employer checking into the references. Paladin Deception Services can even prepare a “fictitious reference, white lie or alibi” within 24 hours.

Using a consumer reporting agency such as AAA Credit Screening Services for your tenant or employment screening needs gives you several legs up against these fake reference companies and the applicants who use them. Firstly, you can get a more detailed dossier on your applicant through a credit report, criminal report, Sex Offender Registry search; or one of the many other reports offered by AAA Credit Screening. This way, you do not have to rely solely on references to have an understanding of who your applipinocchiocant is, and whether they meet your rental or employment standards.

Secondly, AAA Credit Screening Services offers a more intense research of references through our employment, landlord, and education verification services. Our team comes prepared – we spend an average of 4.6 hours on just one verification – this time is divided up between researching the reference/company, determining the proper route for verification, and completing the actual verification. The time AAA Credit Screening Services spending on each application far exceeds the amount of time that an individual landlord, property manager, HR manager, or small business owner could hope to spend on their screening process – especially if they have multiple applicants.

In the case of an employment verification, for example, if an applicant gives a company name, the name of a supervisor, and the supervisor’s direct phone number for an employment reference; we research beyond what is found in the application. Confirming the legitimacy of the company is our first step in the verification process, from there we go through the company’s channels to locate a contact within the HR or Payroll department – for a smaller company we will at times be put in touch with an office manager or the business owner – at which point we can obtain the verification through phone, fax, or e-mail.

In the information age, verifying the identity and legitimacy of a reference is just as important as the reference itself. Verifications, in addition to a thorough employment or tenant screening package, should always be a part of your hiring or rental process. It’s a scary world out there, and trusting your applicant on good faith alone is not only unwise – it can also be unsafe.


Scary Statistics – Violence in the Workplace

According to the United States Department of Labor,

  • More than 23,000 injuries from assault at work were reported in 2013
  • 70% of these assaults were in Social Services or Healthcarestabby stabby
  • In 2012, there were 463 workplace homicides (the most common being shootings)
  • 21% of these workplace homicides were committed by co-workers
  • Women are more likely to be murdered while on the job compared to men
  • About 40% of female homicides in the workplace are committed by relatives
  • Nearly half of all work related deaths in the sales (and related) occupation fields were homicides

“Workplace violence is defined as violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside of the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide.” – O.S.H.A.

The immediate impact of the violent incident on a workplace environment cannot be measured quantitatively, but the after effects can be costly. The impact may be felt in a wide range and can include:

  • Employee absence
  • Productivity barriers
  • Damage, theft, or sabotage occurring on the property
  • Deviation of normal processes and procedures by management
  • An increase of Workers’ Compensation costs/claims
  • An increase in personnel costs

It may not be possible to completely avoid workplace violence, but prevention is key.

Create and implement a “violence in the workplace” program to be followed by employees, customers, guests, and anyone entering the business property. Pre-screen all potential employees appropriately. Utilize security measures such as ID badges, security guards, and limit access to the property and facilities to only those individuals that need to be there.

In a world where we are unable to control every aspect of our environment, having a detailed program in place may mean the difference between life and death.

For information on creating and implementing a workplace violence program: