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Great News for Background Checks

November 24, 2021

By Susan Chance, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Earlier in the year ASE shared information on the pending law that would redact dates of birth from court records. The law, that was to take effect July 1, 2021, was postponed until January 1, 2022. This change would have made it difficult, if not impossible, to conduct criminal record checks in the State of Michigan.

It is hard enough these days to get checks completed efficiently as courts deal with staffing issues caused by the pandemic. It is taking a much longer time to obtain files from the courts than it used to, and before the implementation of the redaction went into effect, some Michigan courts had already begun redacting information. This makes the validation of information a slow process.

Michigan House Lawmakers worked to keep the dates of birth on the records. While the decision to redact the dates of birth was made to help protect against identity theft, the unintended consequences would harm employers and applicants with the negative affect on background screening. As Rep. Graham Filler stated, the redaction would create a “hell of a lot of collateral damage.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued an advisory confirming that name only matches to records do not meet the FCRA requirements for consumer reporting agencies. The FCRA requires credit reporting companies, which includes background screening companies, to assure maximum possible accuracy of consumer information. This includes using other identifiers in addition to the name such as addresses, social security numbers, and dates of birth.

The CFPB addressed the risk of mistaken identity and its impact on minorities when only names are used to match records to applicants. “When background screening companies and their algorithms carelessly assign a false identity to applicants for jobs and housing, they are breaking the law,” Director Rohit Chopra stated. “Error-ridden background screening reports may disproportionately impact communities of color, further undermining an equitable recovery.”

House Bill 5368 was passed:


Sec. 1429.

  1. Except as otherwise provided by law, a record in any court in this state must not be redacted of a defendant’s name or date of birth.
  2. As used in this section, “record” means information of any kind that is recorded in any manner and has been created by the court or filed with a court in accordance with supreme court rules.

This is great news for employers and background screening companies! Just when it looked like the clock was counting down to a time when state of Michigan checks could become impossible, this bill removes the hinderance to running those checks.

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