Retailers Keep Databases of Thieving Employees

Photo (cc) by Aranami

Taking 100 percent off a purchase? That’s a good way to get yourself hung up on the clearance rack, according to The New York Times.

They report retailers ranging from Target to CVS and Family Dollar use huge databases to screen potential employees to see if they’ve been previously implicated in theft.

According to the National Retail Federation, employee thefts account for 44 percent of stolen merchandise – around $15 billion worth. It makes sense retailers want to minimize their losses. Unfortunately, the databases don’t have much detail and can be inaccurate, the article says.

Sometimes employees who simply get questioned about missing merchandise get added to the database, just on the suspicion they may have stolen something. The employee may not even know they’re being branded a thief in a widely shared database until they apply for another job, if then. It can also be difficult for people to dispute database claims, which has led to lawsuits. Some companies, like Home Depot, have stopped using the databases.

They’re considered legal for now, but the Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether they might violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is meant to prevent inaccurate information about consumers.

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