Woman fights for job lost after background check mix-up

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by Janet Roach, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:52 PM

CHESAPEAKE-Adrienne Kowalchek Harrell tears of happiness turned to ones of disbelief. She got a much-needed job as a sales rep for Turner Marketing Group, a contractor for home improvement giant, Home Depot. But before she ever clocked in, she got an e-mail rescinding the offer.

"I didn't think anything of it until I got this notification in my email saying they weren't going to hire me," she said.

Harrell learned she was the victim of mix-up from a background check - something that anyone can face when applying for a job.

The probe was done by Lexis Nexis, a leading provider of content and technology solutions.   It was credit bureau Equifax that couldn't verify who Harrell really is. It was if she didn't have a social security number.   

The problem stemmed from Harrell having names from previous marriages and sometimes being identified with "C" as her middle initial, which stands for Caroline, her birth middle name instead of "K", which stands for Kowalchek, his birth surname.

Equifax couldn't tell the information was about the same person.

"I was stunned--actually. I couldn't understand because it was still me," she stated.

Tuwanna Jones is credit and housing counselor for the Up Center in Norfolk. She says the burden is on Harrell to prove who she is, even though she's never had this problem before.

Jones says more and more companies are using Lexis Nexis to do background checks and their probe is very thorough.

"Lexis Nexis puts you in and everything comes back," Jones stated.

Harrell tried but had a hard time getting through to Equifax and was even locked out of its Website.

Jones says that's common when the problem is over a social security number verification.

"When you can't prove a social security number, that means you're not a citizen," Jones said.

Harrell had to mail two forms of identifcation to Equifax.

In the meantime, 13News Troubleshooters checked with Home Depot to see if her job would still be available once the matter was cleared up. Spokesman Stephen Holmes promised to help Harrell secure the job and a few days later, she was ready for work. 

Jones says Harrell's situation is a lesson to everyone to check your credit report regularly - at least twice a year because you never know when a problem will show up. 

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