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I received a job offer (for a software engineer position at a small, remotely distributed company), verbally agreed to it on the phone, signed the offer, and then received a copy with the manager's signature.

At that point, a person from the human resources department of the company asked me to complete the first page of an I-9 form and also sign a document saying this:

Please read and sign this form in the space provided below. Your written authorization is necessary for completion of the application process.

I, ____________, hereby authorize [Company] to investigate my background and qualifications for purposes of evaluating whether I am qualified for the position for which I am applying. I understand that [Company] will utilize an outside firm or firms to assist it in checking such information, and I specifically authorize such an investigation by information services and outside entities of the company's choice. I also understand that I may withhold my permission and that in such a case, no investigation will be done, and my application for employment will not be processed further.

I don't have a criminal record or any financial troubles and can't think of anything about my "background" that I'd need to hide, but I strongly value privacy just out of principle and have these concerns:

  1. What am I allowing them to search? What are they wanting to do (or access) that they wouldn't be able to without my permission?
  2. Would they be legally required to keep their discoveries confidential?
  3. Would I be allowed to see the full results?

P.S. The offer letter says it's governed by the State of New York.

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  • Welcome to Law.se we kindly ask that you please refrain from asking for "advice" in this community. – A. K. Oct 23 '20 at 21:59
  • @A.K. Thanks. I don't understand the difference between using the word "advice" and "guidance", but I went ahead and removed that entire part anyway since it seemed unnecessary to my question itself. – Ryan Oct 24 '20 at 1:00
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    @Ryam advise is concrete and specific (e.g. "you should...") where as guidance is more general and situation dependent (e.g. "if...then you might want to consider..."). – A. K. Oct 24 '20 at 11:30
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What am I allowing them to search? What are they wanting to do (or access) that they wouldn't be able to without my permission?

Most likely they want to verify your resume and make sure you did not lie about your employment. Criminal records are public records so they would not need your permission to do such a search anyway. Credit reports would require your permission but its not likely that they are looking for that still ask for details if you desire.

Would they be legally required to keep their discoveries confidential?

legally required? not sure but most companies hold employee information as confidential and HR probably has better things to do than publish your background check.

Would I be allowed to see the full results?

According to the FTC's FAQ page you are only entitled to a copy of the background report if "the employer thinks they might not hire, keep, or promote you because of something in the report"

More information is available at: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0157-background-checks

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