The Michigan Supreme Court recently recommended amendments to Michigan Court Rules that would impact the use of date-of-birth details (DOB) on court records.
At backgroundchecks.com, we ask that our clients provide DOB for each subject when ordering background checks. Most criminal and court records are filed by name, not by other details (such as Social Security Number). As a result, background checks that rely exclusively on name can sometimes find false positives by pulling a record for an individual who shares the subject’s name. DOB adds a layer to employee background checks and helps to reduce the likelihood of matching a record to the wrong person.
The core impact of the proposed amendments would be to classify DOB as “protected personal identifying information.” Even within public record information—such as court records or criminal history records—court clerks in Michigan would be legally obligated to redact DOB from documents before sharing them.
Sharing restrictions would include paper and electronic copies and search results in court databases. Clerks would also not be allowed to provide verbal verification of a subject’s DOB or limit searches of court records based on DOB parameters.
These proposed amendments are intended to protect the privacy of subjects. Public DOB information can increase the risk of identity theft and fraud: an individual who has a subject’s DOB can more easily gain access to online or financial accounts, redirect mail, or receive a tax return. For all these reasons and others, there is a growing push among privacy and security experts to dissuade individuals from sharing their DOB, including on social media. The movement in Michigan to redact DOB from court records is an extension of this trend.
However, DOB information remains essential for streamlining and accelerating employee background checks, matching records to job candidates, and providing an effective and thorough background check service. Without a DOB, false positives in background checks may become more common in Michigan for county criminal history checks and state background checks.
Critics of the amendments are currently pushing the State Supreme Court to rescind the new rules. The Supreme Court has delayed the implementation of the rules from the original date (January 1, 2021) to one year later. Even if the amendments go forward, employers won’t see the effects for more than a year.
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About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments