News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 17, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga.---It happens all the time. An employer goes through a private company to get a background check on employees. Only what if that background check is wrong and claims you're a felon, when you're not? Well it happens, and more than you'd think.
"Every applicant is different. Every employee is different." That's the motto for GIS or General Information Services -- the private company hired by an employer, that made a mistake on Shawn Palmer's background check.
According to GIS, Shawn Vontprice Palmer has two felonies and is serving ten years probation. But according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, this Shawn's record is clean -- but this Shawn, Shawn Christopher Palmer's isn't.
"I'm waiting to just wake up, because it really seems like a bad dream," says Shawn.
Shawn's hours at work were cut back, forcing her to look for a new job. But she never thought she would be battling something like this. "All this to prove my innocence," says Shawn.
But it's documents and papers this single mother simply can't ignore. "I've got to take care of this because my children, they're counting on me," says Shawn.
But Shawn is lucky, had the employer not told her about the mistake, she might have lost even more job opportunities.
"I don't know how many jobs I may have missed out on because of this and it just so happens this particular company that I applied for actually told me. I'm glad they told me other than that, I wouldn't have known," says Shawn.
What's the scariest to Shawn is how fast it happened and what damage it's done. She warns it could happen to anyone and she thinks they should be stopped. "They're affecting lives, they're affecting families, and they really need to be held accountable for what they're doing," says Shawn.
We did talk with GIS and they said they have corrected the mistake, but they refused to answer any more of our questions, like how or why this mistake happened in the first place.
The best advice to avoid something like this is to just to double check everything and ask questions. Go and get a background check at the local sheriff's office, they're about ten dollars, and then take it with you on an interview.
Also don't be afraid to ask why you weren't hired -- because in this case it really saved Shawn from more heartache.