Skip to main content

A background check can determine if you can get credit, a job, or even a place to live. That’s why the law requires businesses that provide these reports have reasonable procedures to ensure the information they collect and share about you is accurate.

In a recent lawsuit, the FTC says a company named RealPage did not meet this requirement. RealPage sells tenant screening reports to landlords and property managers. The FTC says the company didn’t ensure criminal history information about prospective tenants was correct, and that landlords may have denied people housing because of this failure.

If you’re about to start or renew your lease:

  • Go to to get your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. That way, you can fix any errors before a landlord sees them.
  • Give the landlord your correct full name and date of birth. This helps make sure he or she gets information on the right person.
  • If you have a criminal history or previous housing court actions, gather any paperwork showing how the action was resolved.

If a landlord tells you not to apply because you have a criminal record, that could be discrimination. If that happens, or if you think a landlord discriminated against you for another reason — such as your race or gender — contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development and report it to the FTC.

For more information on background checks, read Renting an apartment? Be prepared for a background check. And learn more here and here about the FTC’s recent cases protecting people just trying to find a place to live.

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

October 17, 2018
I tried applying for a Chase credit card and was denied. They told me that I didn't owe anyone, anything. My mortgage is paid off. I use debit cards. I have not had a car loan in over 20 years. Isn't that weird? I have no credit, because I never borrow any money.
October 17, 2018

In reply to by Beta

You a blessed to have no credit. Credit cards have a high interest rate, continue using your debit.
October 18, 2018

In reply to by Iris

Credit cards are much safer. If you lose your card or it gets hacked, the credit card company will aggressively go after THEIR money. Your liability is often zero. If you lose your debit card, or your account gets hacked, YOU have just lost YOUR money. Good luck getting it back. When you pay off your account monthly, credit cards are a better option.
October 17, 2018

In reply to by Beta

Yes because you have no credit experience recently, therefore you pose a risk to the bank.
October 18, 2018

In reply to by Beta

Is Chase your regular bank? Might want to appeal this in person at your bank, using paid utility and cable bills as proof of on-time payment. Or try to get a credit card from a different company. With identity theft rampant, it's not a good idea to use your debit card to pay for things. If you use a credit card for purchases, the company will make you whole if someone steals your identity; if you used your debit card, you're on the hook.
October 17, 2018
To many of these Companies are not well Regulated... I was turned down a few years ago for having a Criminal Record,FALSE.. The SO CALLED Criminal record, was a "PAID", Speeding Ticket, 9 Years Earlier...{P.S. The area was 3 Months Later, declared by the State as an Illegal Speed Zone).. I had to threaten a Lawsuit, to get Corrected...
October 17, 2018
Thanks FTC.
October 17, 2018
Thank you for the education on criminal record discrimination; the info was very insightful and eye-opening.
October 18, 2018
when the commercial for Quicken loan shows that your are approved in 5 minutes for a homeloan, that needs to be removed and check into there homeland etc etc
October 19, 2018
How can a new company start that uses different criteria than Experien,and TransUnion.This company is SageStream located in San Diego. SageStream gives me 555 rating and the others give me way over 700. I think they are a scam(SageStream)They wanted my s.s. over the phone!Yet they sent me a big letter to get my information on why the low reading. Something is amiss!
Smart American
October 25, 2018
As I bought my first home years ago, I paid for my thorough Background Check at my Police Station myself! That is how you keep your Background Check 100% correct & after I sold my home and started living in an apartment provided & paid for my Background Check myself at the Police Station myself to let the Apartment Plaxa know what a great American I have been for years & years! And will always do that until I leave this Earth! That is how HONEST I AM! And will be 4ever & a day!