background check

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 9, often overlooked but crucial, procedures to ensure you are getting  reliable results you can depend on.

We all know that a candidate who is hiding a criminal record may purposefully conceal the county where the conviction occurred from his application. We also know that searching every possible County where the applicant has spent a significant amount of time is crucial to uncovering records. This means that employers must be creative in looking for clues to hidden information. Some detective work is in order!

#1_ Job 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.

Do the same for employers listed on the application. Double check with the applicant that he actually worked at the locations listed, as sometimes they will list headquarters information. There is no need to search a jurisdiction if the applicant has never been there.

#2_ 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. If he got arrested within that County’s line, the record could only be seen in that County’s court files. His home County would remain clean. Again, make sure that the address listed is not for the headquarters of an Online School.

#3_Addresses listed on documents

Check that addresses on IDs, certificates and any documents provided by the Applicant are also included in the background check order.

#4_ Accidental disclosures

Listen for undisclosed locations that may come out during the interview. Such as gaps explained as a temporary move to another state.

#5_ 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. If the applicant explains it by claiming aliases, make sure they are all searched.

#6_ Name variations

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

Let us suppose that we have an applicant who was named at birth: Sarah Tomas-Elias. Sarah moves to the United States, obtains various forms of documentation, and applies for a job at your company. If you pay attention, you will likely see the following name variations among Sarah’s documents.

Applicant enters on job application:

First name: Sarah

Last name: Tomas

Middle initial: E

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

Immigration documents:

First name: Sarah

Middle initial:

Last name: Tomas-Elias

SSN card:

Sarah Tomas Elias

Driver’s license/State ID:

First name: Sarah Tomas

Last name: Elias

If you order based on only one of these documents, you can potentially miss a criminal record. As I explained in the last post, court clerks search for records using only first and last names plus date of birth.

So what is the right way to do it? You won’t like the answer…You must order all name variations if you want reliable results.For example, for our fictional candidate above, the following names should be run:

Main name:

First: Sarah


Last: Tomas-Elias

Alias 1:

First: Sarah


Last: Tomas

Alias 2:

First: Sarah


Last: Elias

 Alias 3:

First: Sarah


Last: TomasElias

I know, I know… that is a lot of names to run! But cutting corners would compromise the completeness of the background check; so it must be done. No way around it!

7_ Complement your applicant data with an SSN Trace

The SSN Trace is indispensable for an in-depth investigation. It can complete your efforts in ordering all relevant information because it reveals addresses and names associated with a Social Security Number. Those aliases and jurisdictions, can then be added and researched.

We recommend leaving that task up to the CRA. A diligent researcher will know how to effectively use SSN Trace data as clues to additional identifiers. As it often contains errors, false identifiers, and irrelevant information, the SSN Trace must be used carefully to avoid negative consequences.

8_Consider adding a National Database search

The National Database search is an invaluable supplement to a background check. Although NEVER to be used by itself; when added to an SSN Trace and Unlimited County Criminal package, the results can be shockingly effective.

I can attest to the usefulness of the National Database! On 2 occasions, I have seen the National Database reveal previous murder convictions for applicants. These had happened decades prior, in states not revealed in the SSN Trace’s 10 year address history. These individuals were just fresh out of prison for committing murder!

Throughout my years in background screening, I have seen sex offenders, fugitives, and all types of hidden records show up on the National Database. Although only a small portion of jurisdictions report to the database, it is the only currently available option for searching multiple jurisdictions at once; short of FBI fingerprinting, of course.

A word of caution: A reputable CRA should NEVER report records found in a database without verifying identity and case details at the court of record first. Database information is raw, incomplete, and outdated. 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 counties to your order as they see fit. This way, potential database hits can be researched, and if applicable, reported to you.

9_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.

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 accurate and complete applicant data.

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 an informational package.


NOTE: Diligent Screening Services does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational/informational purposes only. We recommend you consult your attorney or legal department if you want assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.