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Inaccuracies in Background Checks

Protus3Background Investigation


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AP IMPACT: When your criminal past isn’t yours

Out of work two years, her unemployment benefits exhausted, in danger of losing her apartment, Casey applied for a job in the pharmacy of a Boston drugstore. She was offered $11 an hour. All she had to do was pass a background check.

It turned up a 14-count criminal indictment. Kathleen Casey had been charged with larceny in a scam against an elderly man and woman that involved forged checks and fake credit cards.

There was one technicality: The company that ran the background check, First Advantage, had the wrong woman. The rap sheet belonged to Kathleen A. Casey, who lived in another town nearby and was 18 years younger.

Kathleen Ann Casey, would-be pharmacy technician, was clean. Read more…

This is why you need real humans looking at data, not just an automated process.

At RMA, we reduce errors by going straight to the source whenever possible, getting the information directly from courts in the case of criminal records. A competent background investigation company will match records using more than one item of identifying information, such as date of birth, address, SSN, race/ethnicity, gender, etc. A thorough background will compare different types of information for a single individual to detect inaccuracies – cross-checking and comparing the criminal history, address history, driving history, credit report, and employment or education history. Finally, the background investigation company or the employer should call references – both personal and professional – to find out about the character of the individual.

We make ourselves knowledgeable about the regulations allowed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), knowing what we can and cannot pass along in the way of criminal records. We examine the records obtained and filter the information using the demographic information provided by each client. If there is a discrepancy such as in a day or month in the date of birth field, we look for other qualifiers to show that the record pertains to the applicant. If there is a situation where a record is both important to the client and questionable as to validity, we can contact the issuing authority. Almost all adult criminal convictions are public record, and usually there is sufficient information to verify whether the person named is the applicant. In some cases we contact the client and suggest they contact the applicant for clarification or verification. Of course, information disputed by an applicant would trigger further scrutiny. It is possible for a law enforcement agency to get a record wrong or electronically submit the information incorrectly. If the information turns out to be erroneous we can only notify the originating source because the records are not ours.

In a nutshell, what we do is query the applicable sources, obtain the information, verify that the information matches applicant identifiers, and pass along only the parts in the record that are authorized under FCRA.

There is a big difference between a background investigation and a records check.


Plan. Protect. Prosper.

Protus3 specializes in security system design, security consulting, corporate investigations and other investigative services. Partner with Protus3 and we will examine each situation to identify threats and develop solutions for your best outcome.

919-834-8584 or 800-775-8584