Numerous background check companies sell products that search U.S. government watchlists which identify the names of potential terrorists, narcotic traffickers, sex offenders, persons who have violated financial and banking laws, persons who have committed healthcare fraud or others who have engaged in other conduct that makes the individuals subject to US sanctions. Examples of lists that might be searched include:
- Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions List ("OFAC List") (Dept. of Treasury)
- Terrorist Screening Database (FBI)
- No Fly List (TSA)
- Denied Persons List (Dept. of Commerce)
- Debarred Parties List (Dept. of State)
- Unverified List (Dept. of Commerce)
- Office of Inspector General Exclusion List (Dept. of Health)
- National Practitioner Databank (Dept. of Health)
- Sex Offender Registries (Dept. of Justice, State Governments)
Mistmatches to Watchlists
Watchlist searches performed by background check companies many times rely on name matching only. Watchlists often do not have a sufficient amount of personal identifying information to definitively match a person. This leads to potentially misleading results on the background check which implies that a person may be on a government watchlist when in the vast majority of circumstances the person is not the actual perpetrator on the list. A serious example is when the a person has been erroneously flagged as a potential terrorist because their name appears on the OFAC List. This can cause the unnecessary concern to the person requesting the report who could be subject to fines and sanctions for doing business with a supposed terrorist and substantial embarrassment and humiliation to the applicant. Another serious example is when a person has been erroneously flagged as a potential sex offender because their name appears in the a sex offender registry.
Errors Involving Government Watchlists Are A Serious Problem You Should Not Ignore
If a background check erroneously flags you as part of a government watchlist, you should not ignore this problem. Minimally, you need to contact the background check company to dispute the erroneous items on the report. You also may want to consider speaking to a lawyer. Errors from being flagged as part of a government watchlist can cause numerous harms including:
- delays in processing your employment application;
- having your employment application rejected;
- causing you to be terminated from your current job;
- being denied an apartment or other rental property;
- having your applications for credit denied; or
- prevent you from working in certain industries.
In addition to these injuries, erroneously being flagged as part of watchlist can adversely impact your reputation and cause substantial emotional stress. All of these harms are compensable under the law, but you are unlikely to receive any compensation without help from a lawyer. If a background check about you contains errors like those described above, Gorski Law may be able to help resolve the problem and obtain compensation for you. Initial consultations are always free. Call or email the firm to schedule a consultation.