During any pre-employment background check, an investigator or screening analyst searching through public records for any criminal history on a job applicant must always be cognizant of dreaded data-entry error. It happens a fair amount in the court records uploaded for online public access. A name is misspelled, a date of birth entered wrong, or a nickname used instead of the defendant’s legal name — Bill for William, Jon for Jonathan (which is spelled different ways) and so forth.
At Trace Investigations we teach our analysts to be proactive thinkers and researchers. Conducting searches utilizing wild card searches, but also knowing the limitations and idiosyncrasies of some indexes, will protect you from falling prey to bad data. We also exercise extra caution when searching a states’ central criminal records repository, which are notoriously unreliable due to data “shortfalls.” Many states do not adequately fund their courts, hampering their ability to forward criminal data information. Furthermore, many repositories, such as the one maintained by the Indiana State Police, normally only record upper level misdemeanors and felonies, and, even then, case disposition information is often missing or unreliable. At Trace Investigations we always recommend to our screening clients that all local courts and the federal courts where the applicant has resided for seven to ten years be checked, or further back if due diligence requires it, and to not rely on a central repository as the only resource for a criminal history check.
To eliminate doubt in your hiring decisions, including protecting your company from bad data, contact Trace Investigations at (812) 333-8830 for a custom screening program.