Q. Sometimes, we get calls from government agencies or collection agencies seeking employment verification. Do we have to provide the information? — P.D., Idaho
A. There is no federal law that requires you to respond to inquiries or requests for employee information in most circumstances, outside criminal investigations and the like. However, most employers do have a uniform policy that limits disclosure to basic information, such as employment dates and position held.
Sometimes, you may receive a subpoena or a court order to garnish wages. You should always pass these on to legal counsel, who can best direct you on how to respond. Reason: Some requests for information come in forms that look “official” and may actually be an attempt to secure information or even to commit identity theft. While many such orders may be legal and legitimate, be very suspect of requests that come via email. These may be so-called “phishing” expeditions designed to steal valuable information.