Keys To A Successful Criminal History Records Check
In the absence of fingerprints and a nationwide repository of records,
all criminal history records checks are based on name ("identity")
and jurisdiction ("geography"). The first and most crucial
step in conducting a thorough criminal history records check is
to establish and verify the identity of the candidate and the geography
of the search.
Despite what you may think, "identity" is not always
A male candidate, for example, may have the same name as a relative,
with only a suffix to distinguish between them (e.g., Jr., Sr.,
I, II, III, etc.) Or his real name may be Stephen Paul Smith, but
he prefers to go by the name Paul Smith.
With female candidates, there are often maiden names involved.
If recently married, most of her information may appear under her
maiden name, suggesting an additional search to that effect. Also,
she may have divorced and resumed the use of her maiden name. Or
the female subject may have even had another name from a previous
marriage. The point here is that it is important to determine what
variations of the name existand when they occurredto
ensure proper identification and facilitate appropriate searches.
Identity and geography are first established by having the candidate
complete and sign a release (see sample Authorization
to Conduct Criminal Records Check) and then verify the information
via a social security number trace through a credit bureau. Each
time an individual applies for credit, the identity and demographic
information he or she provides during the application process is
in turn provided to credit bureaus that continually update the "header"
information in their credit files. The bureaus also collect data
on bankruptcies, judgments, liens and records from all levels of
In performing the Social Security Number (SSN) trace, we essentially
tap into the "header" portion of the candidate's credit
file and garner valuable information about them, including other
names used, current and former addresses, year of birth or age,
employment information, status as an invalid or misused SSN, and
so on. This information is then compared to what was provided by
the candidate and discrepancies, if any, should be investigated.
NOTE: If we already performed a credit bureau records check for
you as part of our other screening work, our need to do the SSN
trace is eliminated and no fee is charged.
When identity and geography are established and verified, we can
then conduct the criminal history records check in the appropriate
jurisdictions in accordance with the guidelines you have defined
for us. Any criminal history record information gatheredbe
it dismissals, convictions, pending cases or any other "red
flags"will be reported immediately to the person you
so designate. Depending on the scope of the investigation, our work
can often times be done in as few as three to four days. Upon completion,
a Final Report will be issued
to you defining the scope and findings of our investigation.
Some Thoughts On Negative Findings
The presence of a "red flag" (offense) should not always
result in automatic rejection, especially if the candidate has admitted
to the offense. When establishing criteria for evaluating criminal
history, motor vehicle or credit bureau record checks, you should
consider what other factors should be taken into account. Examples
of circumstances you may consider when evaluating an offense include:
- nature and seriousness of the offense
- circumstances under which the offense occurred
- age of the candidate at the time of the offense
- societal conditions that may have contributed to the nature
of the offense
- probability that the candidate will repeat the offense
- candidate's commitment to rehabilitation
A candidate should be denied examination, eligibility or appointment
when he or she has made a false statement of any material fact or
attempted any deception or fraud in any part of the selection process.