Worker Background Checks Rise -- and So Do Errors

Philadelphian Kenneth Hutchinson thought he had put unemployment behind him when he was hired at a GameStop in September. Things were looking even brighter when he landed a second job as an overnight manager at Walmart. But then both positions came to an abrupt halt after criminal background checks turned up a 1996 felony cocaine conviction in Gloucester County, Va.-- charges that Hutchinson had never heard of or been convicted of.

"I have never even been to Gloucester County, Va.," Hutchinson told thePhiladelphia Daily News. "Back then, I was still in high school."

To privacy advocates, Hutchinson's story is a familiar one. Employers are increasingly conducting background checks on prospective employees and even existing ones. They are done for reasons of both security and liability.