Sterling Background Check Errors? We Can Help You Fight Back

Last Updated:
April 7, 2023

Background checks are some of the most important parts of job applications. Companies of all stripes use background checks to ensure that job applicants are trustworthy and don’t have any criminal histories to worry about.

But some companies, including Sterling Talent Solutions, may accidentally make background check errors that can cost you a job or lead to other issues. Today, we’ll break down what to do if you encounter a Sterling background check error and how Fair Credit can help you fight back.

Sterling Talent Solutions Explained

Sterling Talent Solutions is a background check company originally founded in June 2016, when two other companies – SterlingBackcheck and TalentWise – joined forces. Today, Sterling provides background check services with its 18 offices, which are spread across eight different countries. Sterling provides background check services to over 50,000 clients, so it handles a lot of sensitive information for a lot of job candidates.

Think of Sterling as a third-party background check company that provides background check services for other organizations. For example, if you want to work at a local supermarket, that supermarket might use Sterling to check the backgrounds of all job applicants.

What Do Sterling Background Checks Include?

Sterling background checks may include checks for a wide variety of information. These include:

  • Job applicants’ criminal histories. Criminal histories usually include checks for both recent misdemeanors and any felonies. Most misdemeanor criminal convictions go away after 7 to 10 years, but felonies stay on a person’s record forever
  • Driving histories, including a history of DUIs or “moving violations,” which include things like speeding tickets
  • Employment and education background check verification. For instance, if a job needs an applicant to have a specific degree for that applicant to qualify, the job employer will use Sterling to make sure the applicant has the degree they claim they have
  • Court records
  • Credit reports, including recent and comprehensive credit history
  • Fingerprint records (usually included as part of criminal background checks)
  • Drug screening checks, such as recent drug screening failures
  • And more

Note that not every employer needs Sterling to check every single one of the above elements. Some employers, for example, might only need Sterling to check the driving history and drug screening elements. Another might want Sterling to focus more on criminal history and social media screening or something else. It all depends on what the employer wants from Sterling.

Given the breadth of information that Sterling provides to employers, it’s no surprise that it makes mistakes from time to time.

Most Common Mistakes on Sterling Background Checks

Unfortunately, Sterling background checks are not always 100% accurate. In fact, they can be beset by a variety of mistakes and errors, which can cause a job applicant to miss out on potential employment.

Say that you apply for a job to work as a security officer. However, your background check turns up information that indicates you have a criminal history. This isn't true, but it prevents you from getting the job despite being otherwise qualified. That kind of situation can and does happen to job seekers across different industries because of background check errors.

Some of the most common Sterling background check errors include:

  • Wrong or incomplete data, such as erroneous credit score information
  • Typos for credit scores, background check documents, etc.
  • Search, copying, and filing mistakes
  • File corruption in Sterling’s computer systems
  • Cases of mistaken identity, when your records or background information are confused with the background information of another job candidate/citizen
  • Cases of identity theft
  • Errors caused by duplicate information, such as duplicate accounts affecting your credit score and lowering it beyond where it should be

Background check errors can occur for a variety of reasons. Some background check errors occur because of a simple mistake; for example, maybe a credit furnisher supplied the credit bureaus with the same account information twice, causing a debt to appear twice.

However, other background check errors occur because of laziness or inattention to detail (on the part of organizations/credit furnishers or credit bureaus). In any case, background check errors from Sterling can lead to severe consequences.

Can You Lose a Job Offer Due to a Background Check Error?

Yes. If an employer refuses to offer you a job or terminates your job application process because of background check information, the employer is legally obligated to tell you that by providing you with an adverse action letter. This letter will often (though not always) contain information to help you determine why you lost the job offer, such as erroneous information, a criminal history, etc.

Because you can lose job offers because of a background check error, misinformation is never a small problem. It’s a good idea to get any erroneous information corrected as quickly as you can.

Furthermore, missing out on job offers over and over again can increase the length of an employment gap. If it lasts for long enough, such an employment gap could make it even harder for you to get a job since employers will want to know why you were unemployed for a significant amount of time.

Can You Lose a Job from a Background Check Error?

In many cases, employers will go ahead and hire an attractive job candidate before a background check completes. If you’re hired, but then your background check finishes and erroneous information causes you to be fired, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. 

Your Rights as a Consumer

The Fair Credit Reporting Act and similar legislation outline certain rights that American consumers can take advantage of. As a consumer, you have the right to ensure that any background check information, and especially credit report information, is 100% accurate and up-to-date. If it's not, you also have the right to dispute that information and get it corrected ASAP.

Furthermore, you have the right to receive an adverse action letter if information about your background was the cause of a job denial (or loan denial).

Say that you apply for a job to work as a financial officer for a local bank. However, you are denied the job offer because your credit score is surprisingly low, despite having other qualifications like a relevant degree and job experience.

The prospective employer can’t simply deny you the job. They have to explain that you were denied the job on the basis of your credit or background info. They’ll provide this information via an adverse action letter.

An adverse action letter is an important tool in your arsenal for combating background check errors. These letters can help you determine which erroneous information caused you to lose out on a job offer, enabling you to correct it and then reapply for the job later on.

While not required by the FCRA, most adverse action letters include detailed information about why you were denied specifically, such as low credit, criminal history, or other factors.

Disputing a Sterling Background Check

Because of the above right to an adverse action letter, you can begin disputing a Sterling background check on the basis of inaccurate information right from the get-go.

  • You’ll receive a free copy of the adverse action file, in addition to any other files that Sterling used to provide its inaccurate recommendation to your prospective employer
  • You’ll also receive a copy of your rights, in addition to a link or contact information to the credit bureau that Sterling used to acquire your information (if a credit check was included in the background check)
  • You’ll lastly receive the contact information for Sterling itself

Since Sterling is the organization responsible for the erroneous information, it’s a good idea to contact them first and foremost. You can do this in a few different ways, such as by writing a physical letter or by calling Sterling at 1-888-889-5248.

Once you contact Sterling, you should break down the situation and explain the erroneous information you located. In either case, you'll officially file a dispute letter or open a dispute claim. At that point, Sterling Talent Solutions has 30 days to fully investigate your claim and correct any erroneous information.

Once Sterling investigates your claim, they have another five days to get back to you, according to the FCRA. Note that Sterling can also extend this deadline by 15 days if it requests additional information from you, such as a copy of your credit report.

In any case, simply filing a dispute letter with Sterling should be enough to get them to check out the inaccurate information and fix it. However, the erroneous information might be from another organization, like a credit bureau or credit furnisher. In those cases, you’ll need to contact the organizations that originated the inaccurate information to get it corrected.

Say that you discover that Sterling has an inaccurate credit score. Sterling can’t fix your credit score, however. You’ll need to instead contact the credit bureau(s) that put together the inaccurate score, then notify Sterling that your score has been corrected and that they should provide a different recommendation to your prospective employer as a result.

What if Sterling Doesn’t Correct Inaccurate Information?

Remember, one of your most important rights as a consumer is the right to accurate, up-to-date credit and background check information, especially as it relates to employment prospects. If Sterling doesn’t correct inaccurate information that has been brought to its attention, you could have grounds for legal action.

Sterling is legally obligated to ensure that the information it provides to employers is accurate and up-to-date. For example, if you don’t have a criminal background, but Sterling found evidence of a criminal background because of a case of mistaken identity, Sterling must fix the problem and notify your prospective employer that they made a mistake. If they don’t do this, you may wish to speak to knowledgeable legal representatives.

Local attorneys could explain your options and potentially recommend that you file a lawsuit against Sterling. Sterling might be vulnerable to a lawsuit because that company knowingly prevented you from acquiring employment, which is seen as physical or monetary damage in the eyes of most courts.

In such a circumstance, you could win a lawsuit and damages of up to $1000 or more (to cover ancillary expenses like attorneys’ fees). The exact compensation you win depends on the extent of your estimated damages and to what degree Sterling was deliberately malicious or harmful to your prospects.

That said, no lawsuit is open and shut or 100% guaranteed to succeed. Speak to Fair Credit’s attorneys before deciding anything, as they may recommend a different course of action based on the circumstances or details of your case.

How Can Fair Credit Help?

Fair Credit is a specialized and boutique law firm that assists individuals just like you recover from inaccurate background check information.

Our knowledgeable legal representatives have seen many different types of cases and know exactly what to look for in terms of inaccurate credit info or false background check data that can compromise job opportunities and make you ineligible for certain loans. In this way, we can look over your background check or credit report and spot errors based on your personal information.

Afterward, our lawyers will go to bat for you in court and ensure that your dispute letter, whether that’s a background check letter or credit dispute letter, gets a fair shake from a background check agency. With our assistance, your background check dispute won’t be ignored, making it much more likely that you’ll get another chance at the job you wanted.

Wrap Up

Sterling Talent Solutions offers comprehensive background check services to many different companies. If your Sterling background check has erroneous information, you have the right to dispute that information directly. If Sterling refuses to correct any erroneous information, you could have grounds for legal action, up to and including a lawsuit. Contact Fair Credit today to learn how we can help you spot errors in your credit report or background check documents and file a lawsuit if needed.

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