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Who can see my CORI?

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services
Reviewed October 2015


You can look at your own CORI. See how to get a copy of my CORI.

Other people if you give them permission

If you sign paperwork giving other people permission to look at your CORI, they can get a CORI report on you. Some examples are below.

  • Landlords and public housing programs ask for a tenant’s CORI;
  • Employers ask for CORI on people applying for jobs or promotions.
  • Schools get CORI on parents who want to volunteer/go on field trips.
  • People hiring a person to help care for themselves or family:
  • The Department of Children and Families and the Department of Youth Services looks at CORI on people who want to adopt a child or become a foster parent.


It is illegal for employers, landlords and public housing programs to ask you to give them a copy of a CORI report that you got on yourself. A CORI report you get on yourself may list more cases than a CORI report that others get on you. CORI reports given to landlords and public housing programs list only convictions.  A conviction means you pled guilty or the judge or a jury found you guilty.  Most employers only get CORI reports that list only convictions.

Law enforcement

Police, prosecutors, probation and courts can look at your CORI without your permission as part of law enforcement duties or if you have a case going on in court.

Members of the public who pay a $50 fee

Anyone can pay a fee to see certain convictions on your “Open CORI.” A conviction means that you pled guilty or were found guilty. An Open CORI will show that:

  • You were convicted of a misdemeanor a year or less than a year ago OR you
  • You were in jail or served time in jail a year or less than a year ago for the conviction of a misdemeanor;
  • You were convicted of a felony 2 years, or less than 2 years ago OR you were in jail or served time in jail 2 years or less than 2 years ago for the conviction of a felony;
  • You were convicted of a felony that was serious enough to carry punishment of up to 5 years in state prison and it has been less than 10 years after the date of conviction or release from jail or prison—whichever is later;
  • You have a conviction for murder, manslaughter or certain sex crimes and it will be seen forever unless the case was sealed after a long waiting period.

See what is a misdemeanor or a felony .

How can I find out who looked at my CORI?

You can ask for a CORI self-audit from the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services.

The self-audit will give you names of everyone who has looked at your CORI, EXCEPT for police, probation officers, courts or other criminal justice agency employees.

The self-audit is free. But you have to wait at least 90 days before asking for it again or you will be charged a $25 fee.

What are private background-checking companies?

Employers, landlords and others can get criminal record information from private companies. These companies sell criminal background reports and are called Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs).

These companies collect criminal information, write reports and sell them. Many of their reports are wrong and have old information. These reports may not include information that your case was dismissed, closed or that you were found not guilty. Wrong or missing information on the report may make it look like you were guilty, even if the court found you not guilty or dismissed the case.


The law gives you the right to fix the mistakes on your CORI report. Before employers, housing authorities or landlords ask you about a private criminal background report or reject you because of the report, they must:

  • give you a copy of the report and
  • give you a chance to point out mistakes in the report.

If a CRA looks at your criminal record, you can get a copy of the information in your CRA file.

How much does it cost to get a copy of the criminal background check that a Consumer Reporting Agency does?

In Massachusetts, it can cost up to $5 for the first copy and $8 for more copies in the same year.

Outside of Massachusetts, the most a CRA can charge for a copy is $11.

A nationwide CRA, such as LexisNexis, ADP or HireRight must provide you with one free copy of your criminal background check each year.

Credit reports

Some employers may use credit reporting companies for a criminal background check. These companies also can give employers and others reports with mistakes in them.

You have the right to a free copy of your credit report.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to point out mistakes in your credit report. You also have the right to get the report corrected. The Federal Trade Commission is in charge of making companies obey this law. See how to correct errors on a credit report.

The National Consumer Law Center describes the problems CRAs can cause in the article, Broken Records: How Errors in Criminal Background Reports Harm Workers and Businesses. The article also includes information on how to handle some of these problems.

Get free legal help with your CORI

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You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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