March 11, 2021
When you think of common names, John Smith, Michael Miller, and Sarah Johnson are probably at the top of the list. However, you might be shocked to learn that a “common name” is any name matching five or more subjects and Validity’s research team will be the first to tell you, that’s a daily occurrence.
First impressions can make a permanent and problematic impression
Just imagine, you open the completed background check on an applicant you are eager to hire and the first thing you see is a felony criminal conviction. You can’t and probably won’t unsee that information. You might even miss the fine print where your Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) mentions it’s a name match ONLY, meaning this criminal or sex-offender report might not actually belong to your candidate. As of December 4, 2020, this is thanks to a new appellate ruling that allows CRAs to report “Unmatched Criminal Records” as technically accurate.
Some might argue this is a good policy because, in some very rare cases, depending on the type of supplier used, a criminal report could go unreported, however, this is NOT a policy Validity is adopting as this is not the best practice. “Maybe” information should not be a decision on who to hire. With this new ruling, a CRA is free to flood you with possible name matches and leave the critical research and review responsibility to you. When you review a criminal, or other, record from Validity, you can safely consider it “actionable”. Our Quality Control protocols are a key component of the service we provide our Clients.
Validity not only thinks this is a bad ruling and all-around poor practice, but it’s also bad for our entire profession as it opens many doors that can’t be closed. The Eleventh Circuit court claims it’s reasonable that a user would understand the difference between a “name match” and a “complete match” but stop and think of your first and last name. Do you believe you share those with anyone else, and if you do, are you prepared to share the same criminal background as them? If you’re like me, that answer is an unequivocal no.
You should expect your background check to reflect the person you are screening and that’s exactly what Validity provides. It’s the fundamental reason that we do not report criminal or sex-offender reports without multiple identifiers.
Every law, decision, or ruling made by a court doesn’t always translate to the best practice which is what Validity strives to provide for our Clients each and every day.
This information has been prepared by Validity Screening Solutions for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. The content is intended for general information purposes only, and you are urged to consult a lawyer concerning your own situation and any specific legal questions you may have.