Spokeo, a website full of data on consumers — job candidates — is paying $800,000 to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges about the way it marketed the profiles to HR people, recruiters, and background-checking companies, allegedly without the proper consumer protections.
A U.S. Justice Department document (posted below) says, “in its marketing and advertising, the company has promoted the use of its profiles as a factor in deciding whether to interview a job candidate or whether to hire a candidate after a job interview. Spokeo purchased thousands of online advertising keywords including terms targeting employment background checks, applicant screening, and recruiting. Spokeo ran online advertisements with taglines to attract recruiters and encourage HR professionals to use Spokeo to obtain information about job candidates’ online activities.”
What the government’s getting at is that it feels Spokeo is a consumer reporting agency. And with that comes certain responsibilities. And, the feds say, Spokeo didn’t meet those responsibilities: things like making sure the information is accurate, as well as telling recruiters about their consumer-protection obligations (like what you need to know if you’re going to reject someone based on what you see on Spokeo).