backgroundIn the age of big data, “fly by night companies” have been developed to provide consumers with dirt cheap rates for instant, “reliable” public record information. It is time to uncover the truth about these online databases that encourage employers to use their website and conduct their own background checks.

  1. Accuracy of Information

    • Problem: The majority of records reported from instant online database searches involve only a name match; no other identifier is used when reporting the potentially adverse information.
    • Solution: All criminal conviction records are stored in each county nationwide. When a court researcher is pulling county records, they are looking for at least two identifiers before they report the results. The first identifier is a full name match (first, middle, and last) and the second identifier is the subject date of birth.
  2. Up to Date Information
    • Problem: Instant online databases are not updated on a daily basis nor do they provide “real time” information. These databases instead may be updated monthly, or even quarterly; therefore, if an applicant was convicted of a crime last week, their records will not show up on any instant online database search.
    • Solution: “Real time” hand searches should be conducted at the county level. This background check may be achieved through your background screening vendor who maintains relationships with county court researchers. Your vendor’s licensed researchers are visiting the courts on a daily basis searching court records in person, and in real time.
  3. Not All Jurisdictions Covered in Instant Database Search
    • Problem: Although instant online database searches have millions of public records, not every single county (where all criminal convictions are held) contribute their records to these databases. If your organization conducts an instant nationwide criminal search and the applicant has resided in Los Angeles County, CA, records will not be delivered because LA county courts do not report records to online databases.
    • Solution: Employers should initially run a social security address trace to determine counties resided in by the applicant. They may then conduct a county-by-county search based on the results from the trace.