ED Magedson – Founder
GameStop2101 W Lehigh Avenue Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States of America
This is taken from a front page story from the Philadelphia Daily News on December 13th, 2010:
"KEVIN HUTCHINSON openly admits that he pleaded guilty in 2002 to misdemeanor charges of simple assault, harassment and related offenses for fighting with his ex's new boyfriend.
"I know what I did was wrong," said Hutchinson, a William Penn High and Thompson Institute grad. "It's the first and only time I've ever been in trouble. It was a dark time in my life, and I put myself through a lot of unnecessary nonsense."
Hutchinson, 32, of North Philadelphia, even put it on his job application in September at GameStop, a video-game store at 22nd Street and Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia. So he was stunned when, after a month of employment, his manager called him into his office Oct. 19 and asked if anything was on his record that he hadn't disclosed.
"He said, 'If there was, would you be surprised?' " Hutchinson recalled. "I told him I'd be shocked, and a few minutes later, they fired me for nondisclosure of information."
Through no fault of his own, Hutchinson had fallen victim to what some experts say is a disturbing consequence of background checks - erroneous information gathered by careless or unscrupulous data brokers.
Hutchinson said he repeatedly asked whether he was being fired for the 2002 charges. He said his manager emphatically told him, "No," but refused to tell him why he was being fired. Hutchinson said he never received a copy of his background check or a termination letter from GameStop.
The Daily News was unable to confirm that GIS was the company that also conducted Hutchinson's criminal-background check for GameStop. A GIS spokesman said he could not disclose clients' names, and a GameStop corporate spokesman said in an e-mail that the company "does not provide public comment on employment matters." Hutchinson, however, said a GIS representative told him by phone that the company also had conducted his GameStop background check. Hutchinson added that GameStop's human-resources department confirmed that they had used GIS.
Unfortunately, to Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., Hutchinson's is a familiar story.
"Background checks are pretty routine now, even for positions that don't require trust that they manage money or things of value," she said. "There's no way to know that the error rates are not off the charts."
Chris Lemens, general counsel for GIS, said the company has "fewer than two errors in 10,000" cases. He declined to say how many cases GIS completes in a day or a month. And the "two errors," he said, are cases in which people received copies of their criminal-background checks from prospective employers and disputed them themselves.
Coney said many people may never know about an inaccurate background check, especially if an employer never gave them a copy. If a person never got a job, he or she simply may have assumed that someone else was more qualified, she said. "For every one person you hear this happens to, there may be thousands of people who don't know this happens," she said. "This the worst-case scenario because you're not going to be brought to trial to argue your innocence because you've already been found guilty and you don't even know it." Lemens, who said he was prohibited from speaking about specific cases, said GIS' background checks are not guaranteed accurate. "Of course not," he said. "You know when you see in the movies there's some kind of instantaneous universal background check performed? There is nothing like that. This is a process performed by humans. . . . Whenever there is a human element, there could be inaccuracies." Lemens said the company has run into situations in which court records are inaccurate or "even made up." "We, of course, can't make sure the public records are accurate," he said. That's part of the problem with data brokers, Coney said. "They know the documents they are getting have errors, but it does not stop them from using [them]," she said. "The core foundation of their business is telling their customers how many bad people they know about. They are not into telling someone what a wonderful person this is, because they don't want to be held accountable if something goes wrong." Coney said the only way to manage the unregulated data-broker industry is to make it transparent and allow people to view their backgrounds regularly, as they can with their credit scores. "Individuals are the only ones who are going to know if the information is accurate," she said. No one is held accountable when a bad background report is produced and sent to an employer, Coney said. "The problem is they are not getting penalized for doing this, so they keep using bad data practices," she said. "They are vilifying the names of the people who have no idea their names are even out there." For Kevin Hutchinson, the problems persist. "I don't want to be out of work," he said yesterday. "I wanted to work, I wanted to collect a paycheck, I wanted to work two jobs at one time. . . .
"Overall, it really has put my back against a wall, and the worst thing about it is it wasn't of my doing. I actually wish that some people in higher places could hear my story and see that some people actually do want to work."
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/13/2011 05:48 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/GameStop/Philadelphia-Pennsylvania-19133/GameStop-FIRED-FOR-FALSE-INFO-BY-BACKGROUND-CHECK-COMPANY-AND-NOT-GIVEN-JOB-BACK-Phila-682360. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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