The Importance of Dates of Birth in Background Checks

When employers submit criminal background check requests or purchase other screening reports, they sometimes find multiple hits for the same name. This scenario is especially likely if a candidate has a very common name. A business owner cannot assume that the named records they find are relevant to the applicant—in fact, none of the records may belong to that individual.

When such situations arise, secondary sources of data are essential to making a positive connection between a criminal record and the subject of a search. There are many kinds of information useful for this purpose. Date of birth is one of the most common factors that differentiate same-named criminal records: the likelihood that two individuals share both the same name and the same birthday is very small. 

The same applies when an employer is handling an applicant who may have changed their name in the past. Birthdays are a simple way to help confirm the veracity of potential aliases returned by search products such as the US AliasVERIFY from backgroundchecks.com. While names may change, the birthday associated with that individual is unlikely to appear differently in any official records.

While it can be easy to overlook, date of birth is a vital statistic in evaluating background reports and making fully informed hiring decisions. It should come as no surprise that when the Michigan Supreme Court promulgated a new administrative rule calling for the redaction of dates of birth from court records, many employers protested. While the courts said that the new move was an attempt to limit fraud and identity theft committed by bad actors accessing public records, business advocates have expressed concern that it would make it difficult to conduct thorough, reliable background checks on potential tenants, employees, and volunteers.

Although the courts have already spent time and money implementing the rule, Michigan lawmakers may reverse it through legislation. Lawmakers hurriedly drafted and introduced a bill that would ban the redaction of birth dates and names from all court records. The final language of the law remains under debate.

If dates of birth were not available on criminal and court records, it could complicate verification procedures and other steps for using background checks. While the Michigan law is unusual, not every record includes a date of birth. As a result, it is critical for those who use background checks regularly to maintain a well-defined process for verifying records.

As states wrestle with which information to make publicly available, employers should be prepared to use background checks effectively. Collecting additional information from applicants before ordering a background check, such as a Social Security Number, can make it easier to verify records. Consider using vetting tools to discover additional, relevant data to deepen each search, such as former names or maiden names and prior address information.

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.

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