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Avoiding false positives on background checks

on November 1, 2012

Let’s face it: having to go through a background check is stressful enough. Getting a false positive result can unnecessarily magnify that stress for both the subject and the entity performing the check. Needless to say, conducting a background check is a sensitive matter, and every precaution should be taken to avoid false positives. Usually, such blunders can be caused by inaccurate data, identity theft, or coincidence.

Background investigation is not an exact science, so be prepared to occasionally overlook a record or report a false positive. The best way to avoid inaccurate results is to start on a small scale, close to home, gradually widening the scope of your search. Knowing where the person has lived, worked, or attended college during the last 10 years is vital information for an accurate background check. When looking for a criminal record, the most reliable and current sources are county courthouse files for the subject’s home and surrounding counties.

Narrowing your range also eliminates many same-name records – the smaller the area, the fewer duplicates on your report. Make sure to obtain the middle name to distinguish from other subjects with same first and last names. The key to successfully retrieving the correct criminal record is matching the name and date of birth. To ensure you have the right birth date, compare your data to driving records, social security annals and credit reports.

Information procured from state-wide databases is very useful in supplementing county searches. These sources aid in discovering crimes that may have been committed outside the subject’s county or state of residence. When a database returns a positive record, its accuracy should be verified with a court search before being included on the report.

Short of obtaining fingerprints, these methods are practically guaranteed to produce accurate results. These basic steps should drastically minimize, if not completely eliminate false positive results on background checks.

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