Michigan House of Representatives Passes Bill to Preserve Dates of Birth on Court Records
House Bill 5368 (HB 5368) has recently been passed by the Michigan House of Representatives. This bill will protect job and apartment seekers’ ability to receive accurate background checks for employment and rentals. HB 5368 will continue to the Michigan Senate for further debate and final passage.
This new bill is a response to a recent order by the Michigan Supreme Court that would remove the date of birth (DOB) from all court records in order to prevent identity theft. Though a noble goal, this would also prevent background check providers from providing consumers with the background checks they need to acquire jobs and homes. Without this bill or another change to prevent it from taking place, this new rule will go into effect at the start of next year.
For those who are unaware, the reason that this rule removing DOB from all court records would prevent background checks or at the very least render them extremely inaccurate is because of the information required to guarantee they are accurate. In order to perform background checks, an investigator must go to a courthouse and request records under a certain name. However, many people share the same name, so if any records are returned, the investigator needs another way to ensure they belong to a certain individual.
This is where the Fair Credit Reporting Act comes in. This law requires background check providers to use certain personal identifiers to ensure that a background check belongs to a particular person. The most common of these personal identifiers is a date of birth, and this is because it is generally accepted that this is not a particularly private piece of personally-identifying information. Yet when used in combination with an individual’s name, it can serve to guarantee with a high degree of accuracy whom a record belongs to.
Without a DOB, a reputable background check provider will not generate a report, and those that do will provide completely unreliable data. This could greatly harm the reputation of individuals these reports are performed on and are potentially illegal.
In response to this upcoming court rule, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) has warned that employers and landlords may become unwilling to hire employees or rent to those in the state of Michigan. This is unfair to consumers in the state who should have the right to accurate background checks that prove they are qualified to be safe and responsible employees and tenants.