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Are Agent Background Checks Legal?

by Chicago Agent

Agents might be subject to more than a usual background check.

By Stephanie Sims

It seems that agents who work with Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs) and complete Broker Price Opinions (BPOs) are also asked to submit to and pass mandatory criminal background checks, according to our friends at Agent Genius. In an email they received from the LSI Division of Lender Processing Services (LPS), passing mandatory criminal background checks are done “to ensure that every person who conducts business on their clients’ behalf observes the highest of standards and professional ethics.”

Getting a background check for criminal pasts isn’t anything new, however; states which require criminal background checks for licensees utilize their own State Bureau of Investigations and FBI databases to determine if there have been any felony or misdemeanor convictions. Some states will also look at court records for additional information, if available online. But more concerning, besides the cost for the mandatory background check (get ready for another fee), are the companies who want agents to get them done and their own disclaimers on their sites: LPS/LSI (a preferred valuation partner of National Association of Realtors’ (NAR’s) Realtors Property Resource (RPR), and thereby those Realtors® who hold NAR’s Broker Price Opinion Resource (BPOR) certification) along with DataQuick, are being conducted by third parties, such as LexisNexis and Sterling.

Agent Genius highlighted LexisNexis’ disclaimer, as published on its website. According to the LexisNexis website, items that could be pulled up, in addition to any criminal activity, may include; “information regarding my credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living. This report may be compiled with information from credit bureaus, court record repositories, department of motor vehicles, past or present employers and educational institutions, governmental occupational licensing or registration entities, business or personal references, and any other source required to verify information that I have voluntary supplied. I understand that I may request a complete and accurate disclosure of the nature and scope of the background verification; the extent such investigation includes information bearing on my character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living.

Which begs the question, how does someone judge an agent’s character, reputation, or mode of living, and what is acceptable or unacceptable? Will agents be “penalized” so to speak if they are gay, unmarried but living with a partner, etc?

What do you think of this new policy change?

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