Steps Employers Must Take When Running Background Checks

Nov 6, 2017

On our previous blog post, we discussed how Background check results can be compromised during the order entry process and gave you some tips to follow when placing background orders. If you missed it, you can Read it here!

Now we will delve into other solutions to a problem many employers are unaware of, thanks to many screening companies’ failure to care and educate their clients. If you are not following these procedures, you are putting your organization at risk.

You spend money, time, and effort to screen all your potential employees because you care about your company, your employees, and your customers. But thorough screening requires your knowledge and participation in the screening process. The success of the background check report begins with you! In this article I will give you some often overlooked but crucial, procedures to ensure you are getting  reliable results you can depend on.

#1_ Incomplete Residence History

I’ve seen cases where an applicant failed to list a an address in their application and were it not for our super duper diligent research we would have been unable to detect some very serious criminal history. Perhaps they didn’t list the former address on purpose,  maybe they just plain forgot they the exact address and didn’t know what to enter… most likely their hand was cramping after filling out so much paperwork, or they thought it unimportant to list every address they’d lived in over the last 10 years. Unfortunately, we know that searching every possible county of residence within the last 10 years, or even just where they worked or attended school is key to ensuring comprehensive coverage of all possible jurisdictions where a conviction might be hiding. Keep your eye open for unreported addresses that you might come across. Following are some places you can check for additional jurisdictions you should search.

a_ Work Locations

A resume can reveal more than job experience. Look through the applicant’s resume and make sure that all counties where the applicant has worked are being run in the County Criminal portion of the background check. The same goes for previous jobs listed in the application.

Double check with the applicant that he actually worked at the locations listed, as sometimes they will list corporate office information. There is no need to search a jurisdiction if the applicant has never been there.

b_ Schools attended

If the Applicant lived in one county but attended school in another, the county where the school is located also needs to be searched. It is possible that they could’ve been arrested in that city which means the case would have been tried in that county’s court, and so you would need to add that county to your county criminal searches in order for us to search and locate the record.

c_Addresses listed on documents

Ensure that the address listed on the form of government issued ID they present is in a county that is being searched.

 #2_ Aliases

Names are also extremely crucial for accurate screening. It is common for applicants not to print their full legal name in an application. People get used to going by a certain name and don’t realize that the name they list on their application will most likely be the name their complete employee record will be filed under. But when it comes to employment screening failure to order your report using the applicant’s full legal name can completely invalidate the results. The reason is because Courts no longer include use SSN in court dockets. Records are found by searching name and date of birth. I mean, EXACT name and DOB, then verified with a middle name or intital or Driver’s license number. So, searching for might not turn up a record with a defendant named Richard.

Here are some tips for ordering your background reports using the correct name to ensure reliable results.

a_Clues in the Signature

Check the candidate’s signature on all forms and documents. Does it match the name reported on the application? Is it spelled differently? Clarify any irregularities with the applicant. If they explain it by claiming aliases, make sure they are all searched.

b_Name variations

Double last names are common, sometimes these  names are separated by a hyphen. The tricky part is that government issued IDs sometimes list the first part of the double last name as the middle name.

Let us suppose that we have an applicant who was named at birth: Sarah Smith Sanderson.

Applicant enters on job application:

First name: Sarah

Last name: Smith

Middle initial:

Yes this happens! Some people use the  name that immediately follows the first name as their surname. The actual last name, is often omitted. If you will look at any of these identity documents, you might see these variations:


First name: Sarah

Middle initial:

Last name: Smith-Sanderson

SSN card:

Sarah Smith Sanderson

Driver’s license/State ID:

First name: Sarah Smith

Last name: Sanderson

So what is the right way to order this applicant’s background check?  You won’t like the answer. You have to order all possible name variations if you want reliable results. From any of the IDs above you can safely deduce that although Sarah considers her surname to be Smith, the name Sanderson is her actual last name and thus could be the name used in any possible court filings.

For our fictional candidate Sarah, the following name variations should be run:

Main name:

Sarah Smith-Sanderson

Alias 1:

Sarah Smith Sanderson

Alias 2:

Sarah Smith

 Alias 3:

Sarah Sanderson

I know, I know… that is a lot of names to run. But cutting corners would compromise the integrity of the background check; so it must be done. It is better to be safe than sorry.

 #3_ Complimentary Searches

a_ Complement your applicant’s data with an SSN Trace

The SSN Trace is indispensable for an in-depth investigation since it reveals prior addresses and names associated with a Social Security Number. It is really good at revealing aliases too. Those name variations and jurisdictions, can then be added and researched, greatly increasing the likehood that any existing record will be found.

We recommend leaving that task up to the screening company. Request the SSN Trace and let us decide what information in it is relevant and should be searched. A diligent researcher will know how to sift through the SSN Trace data to locate relevant identifiers and add them to the searches in your background check order. Because SSN Trace results often contain errors, typos, family member names and other irrelevant information, the information in an SSN Trace must be used carefully to avoid negative consequences.

b_Consider adding a National Database search

The National Database search is an invaluable supplement to a background check. Although NEVER legal to be obtained by itself for employment screening purposes, when used in conjunction with an SSN Trace and all possible names and addresses found on the application and ID,  the National Database search can turn out to be a helpful source of information.

We can attest to the usefulness of the National Database. On many occasions, we have seen the National Database reveal previous convictions in counties not otherwise known, having not appeared in SSN Trace results for one reason or another.

Throughout my years in background screening industry, I have seen all types of hidden records that were found solely because of the National Database search, even a murder once. Although only a small portion of jurisdictions report to the database, and its results are always outdaded and often incomplete, it is the only currently available option for searching multiple jurisdictions at once; short of FBI fingerprinting, of course.

A word of caution: Database results are raw, incomplete, and outdated. A reputable CRA will NEVER report records found in a database search without first verifying the possible record with the applicable county court for identity verification and current case details. Because it is unlawful for an employer to make an adverse action based on database results, the CRA should have your prior permission to add additional searches to your order as it becomes necessary upon review of these auxiliary searches.

How to avoid running up your bill

Following these rules may result in lots of names and counties on some background checks.

I have seen reports with over 50 searches. But it’s what is necessary for a comprehensive Background Screening Report. To avoid spending a fortune on these difficult cases, make sure that your background check provider includes unlimited aliases and counties in you package, for a flat fee. Diligent Screening  packages automatically include an unlimited number of  counties and names variations as are necessary for a thorough screening, at no additional search charges.

So to recap, employers can promote reliable Background Check results by:

  1. Choosing a diligent, reliable CRA.
  2. Selecting a screening package that includes, at a minimum, an SSN Trace, National Database and Unlimited County Criminal searches.
  3. Providing the CRA with all known applicant identifiers
  4. Ensuring careful data entry at order time to avoid typos that might void the results.

By following these tips you can have the peace of mind of knowing that you are thoroughly screening the individuals you choose to represent your company.

Here at Diligent Screening Services, we are  passionate about what we do and take it very seriously. When we say: Your Peace of Mind is Our Business! We mean just that. Contact Us to request a quote or demo of our services.


Accurate Background Check Reports: What Employers Can Do to Ensure Reliable Results

The first and most important thing the employer or authorized user who orders a background check can do to ensure accurate background check results, is to provide the CRA with the correct applicant data.

My Favorite Motivational Quotes About Success

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”

“Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself” —Oprah Winfrey

Candidate Interview Techniques – 5 Tips to Reading Body Language

Good interviewing techniques can help you learn the most about a candidate and whether they are a good match for you company. You already know all the best questions to ask and you hope that they...

6 Unique Interview Questions

The object of these questions is to gauge the candidate's identity, mentality, qualities, and convictions to figure out whether he/she will be a good fit for your company. They are intended to get...

Steps Employers Must Take When Running Background Checks

You spend money, time, and effort to screen all your potential employees because you care about your company, your employees, and your customers. But thorough screening requires your knowledge and participation in the screening process.

Data Security Requirements – Is Your Business Compliant?

Every business has to deal with private data at one time or another. Most companies, at a minimum, handle personnel files or customer data, in order to perform their business functions.

Complying with FCRA and EEOC

The process of vetting and hiring the most suitable employees for your organization, while simultaneously maintaining the safety and integrity of your business, can be complicated.

Overtime Exemption – Does Your Employee Qualify?

As you may have already learned, the Department of Labor has finally rolled out a new revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act, raising the minimum salary required for overtime pay exemption. Is...

Employers’ Guide to Compliance with Background Screening Laws

The process of vetting and hiring the most suitable employees for your organization, while at the same time ensuring fair and legal hiring practices can be surprisingly complicated for many...

Get 3 FREE Background Checks

Sign Up Now and Get a Free Trial of Our Employment Screening Services today!

Got Questions? 

Get in Touch

9 + 5 =