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Remember years ago when you were down on your luck, out of a job and so desperate that you decided to steal $300 worth of merchandise from a department store? You don’t remember that? Well, your record shows that you were convicted of larceny. Still don’t remember? Oh, that wasn’t you at all? Well, your potential employer is now looking at that incident on your criminal background report because the person convicted of that crime has your exact same name.

I know, sounds extreme; but according to the Attorney General, in 2006, nearly 50 percent of FBI background checks were actually incomplete or somehow inaccurate, primarily due to arrest records that were not updated by local and state authorities, and because of incidents of mistaken identity.

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Last Thursday, U.S. Representative Bobby Scott, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, reintroduced the Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act (H.R. 5300). This bill, which has received strong bipartisan support and the endorsement of a broad spectrum of civil rights and labor organizations, would improve the reliability of criminal background reports.

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