Learn About the Federal Privacy Act of 1974
Conducting a background check on an individual is an effective way of getting to know the undisclosed details about a person, particularly if the individual had been convicted for an offense. Retrieving such details often help to safeguard the interests of a prospective employer or a business partner. Making use of government websites will enable you to obtain information about any person including his/her physical details as well as the current address and occupation.
The Freedom of Information Act requires almost all governmental agencies to maintain public records which can be accessed by the general public by conducting a simple search over the Internet. Obtaining copies of documents are possible as well with most of the court room clerks and administrative offices of various law enforcement agencies helping out with details of background check.
The Federal Privacy Act of 1974 (http://www.justice.gov/opcl/1974privacyact-overview.htm ) which has been in effect since 27th September 1975 helps to maintain the privacy of US citizens by promoting a code of fair practices as far as collecting, maintaining and informing the public of the personal identifiers of an individual is concerned. Since most of the records are retrieved by entering either the name or any other personal information of the individual in question, the Privacy Act of 1974 makes it necessary for all public agencies to give a notice of their recording system in the Federal register.
The act also specifically prohibits the disclosure of any personal information without the consent of the concerned individual unless it is considered to be one of the twelve statutory exceptions. The privacy act also requires the agencies to maintain a record of all disclosures along with the date of access, purpose of the disclosure as well as the nature of the record in order to prevent misuse of the information obtained from the records.
Amendment of Records-
The Privacy Act also allows an individual to rectify his/her own record in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 552a(d)(2). It is also necessary for the concerned agency to correct the record within ten working days or inform the individual about the reasons for not amending the record in question.
Social Security Number-
According to the Section 7 of the Federal Privacy Act, an individual cannot be denied any right, privilege or benefit on account of non disclosure of his social security number.
Disclosure in Mailing Lists-
The Act specifically prohibits commercial usage of names, addresses and other private information obtained from public records by any individual or agency. Such an act is considered to be an offense and is punishable by law. Withholding of names and other information from public records is not permitted either.
Penalties for Violation-
The Federal Government is concerned with the privacy of its citizens and any person or agency found guilty of unlawful disclosure of private information is liable to be convicted of misdemeanor and is required to pay a sum of up to $5000 as fine. An equal amount of fine is required to be paid by an agency maintaining records without adhering to the requirements of the privacy act. A person trying to obtain information under false pretenses is also considered to be guilty of violating the privacy act and has to pay a maximum of $5,000.