You’re innocent until proven guilty. That is, unless you’re looking for a job! 4 out of 5 employers do a criminal background check on job candidates.

But 1 in 10 of those reports contain errors and some of them are serious enough to cost you the job, like if you’re mistaken for a felon or have a false drug conviction.  

Consumer protection attorney Jim Francis says that’s because background check companies collect information from a variety of sources and then use computer software to compile the data. Which means, if someone who has the same first initial and last name as you do commits a crime, the record could pop up on your search record. In fact, you could even be confused with a felon who’s still in prison!

Experts say that employers are required to get your written permission before they do a background check. They’re also required to tell you if they used the information they found to reject you. And, federal law allows you to dispute the report and clear your name. But that process can take 45 days. By then, the job may be long gone.

What’s the fix? Consumer protection experts suggests that before you start a job hunt, do a background check on yourself so you can correct any errors before they cost you a job. And you can do it for free. Background check companies are required to provide you with one free report per year. I’ll put the links you need at