A mutual association is typically made up of businesses, such as retailers, financial institutions, and hospitality establishments - hotels, restaurants, heath care institutions, etc.
A mutual association acts as a clearinghouse for receiving, storing, and disseminating information about individuals involved in employment dishonesty, shoplifting, refund or credit card fraud, and passing bad checks.
Participation in a mutual association provides the member company with the ability to complete an efficient and inexpensive legal inquiry.
Prozzi, a,labor attorney with the law firm Jackson, Lewis, Schnitzler and Krupman in Pittsburgh, and legal counsel for the Employers Mutual Association of Pennsylvania, comments that section 1681h(e) of the FCRA states that no lawsuit for defamation, invasion of privacy, or negligence may be brought against a user or a provider of information unless it can be proven that false information was furnished with malice or willful intent to injure.
Prozzi points out that as long as a mutual association limits that data to only admitted or proven acts of dishonesty, it would be difficult or impossible for an individual to prove malice or willful intent based on the dissemination of the information.
Aldrich, vice president of loss prevention for the Joseph Home Company in Pittsburgh, states that the mutual association is an efficient and economical way to help reduce theft losses.
Keith Weiner, former district loss prevention manager for Toys-R-Us in Cleveland, points out that the mutual association program is an excellent resource for protecting a company against employee theft by screening out known thieves before they can be hired.
The staff of a mutual association is responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of the association.
The accuracy and verification of all information passing through a mutual association is an important responsibility.
Upon receipt of the completed form, the mutual association searches to see if the individual is on file and, if so, forwards a hard copy follow-up report to the member company.
The member company, under the guidelines of the FCRA, then must inform the individual of the information on file and allow the individual to contact the mutual association directly if he or she chooses.