It’s common for people to think that conducting a background check is much easier than it actually is in many instances. For example, some think you can simply enter a Social Security Number or an individual’s full name and location, and you will populate accurate results. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy in most cases.
Criminal records are stored by name and date of birth. As you probably guessed, this makes it much more difficult when a person has a common name. Additionally, background checks can be much more complicated for individuals who have used an alias name. Aliases may also be called ‘AKA’s, or ‘also known as.’
Alias names refer to names that aren’t one’s current legal name, and they are common in many instances, such as:
- The use of a shorter name, such as Sam for Samuel or Samantha. In some instances, a common nickname may not even resemble the full name, such as Meg for Margaret or Katie for Katherine.
- The use of a married or maiden name, as it is common for individuals, usually females, to change their legal last name upon marriage or divorce.
- Intentional misspellings, which applicants may try in the hopes that the potential employer will do a background check on the wrong person. An example of this is someone providing the name Steven instead of their legal name, Stephen.
For these reasons, many employers now include a section on the application that requests information about any other name you have done by in the past in addition to your current legal name. It is also a good idea to get one’s full name, including a middle name, if they have one. If the applicant provides alternative names, you may also ask when they changed their name, which can speed up the background check process. For example, if criminal background checks can only extend seven years in the past in your state, but the job candidate changed their name ten years ago, it may not impact your ability to get accurate search results.
The reality is that if you only run a background check on the person’s legal name, there’s a possibility that criminal records could exist under a previous name or alias. Fortunately, USAFact offers a service that automatically adds alias names found on the address history locator. Therefore, even if an applicant provides a misspelled name, you can be sure to find the proper criminal history.
Including alias names ensures several things:
- Accurate results: Alias names broaden the criminal history search to ensure that you are capturing one’s full criminal history, including any crimes that may have been committed under a former name or nickname.
- Better hiring: Background checks are conducted by employers for multiple reasons, including ensuring the safety and security of employees and customers. When you have a more accurate criminal history and background, it becomes easier to make smart hiring decisions that can improve your company’s safety. Using aliases prevents you from inadvertently hiring a criminal.
There are many possible reasons why a criminal record may be under another name. Still, unless you are working with a proven background check company, it can be difficult to ensure you are searching the right places and with the right methods to get the information you need to make sound hiring decisions. Background check service providers often also start with a Social Security Number trace, which will verify the person’s identity and address. It may also identify aliases, but these can be discovered using the address history locator. Once you know the aliases, you can ensure a proper criminal history check will be carried out, even if the applicant is unwilling to provide you with their aliases or maliciously withholds or provides erroneous information.
Modern background checks are complex, and many legal considerations relate to the candidate’s privacy. If violated, the company has severe punitive consequences, which is another great reason to partner with a background check provider accredited by The Professional Background Screening Association.
Upon request, many PBSA-accredited professionals can include alias names in criminal record searches, ensuring that you accurately represent the individual’s background, which also allows you to make smarter hiring decisions. A failure to include aliases during one of the searches could mean you are getting an incomplete and inaccurate idea of a potential employee, which may put your company, employees, and customers at risk. In the modern age, it’s not good enough to do a partial check – you must be certain you are getting all the information you need. To do this, you need comprehensive background checks incorporating all known aliases for an individual.
For more information about criminal background checks, contact USAFact today!
USAFact Global Screening Services provides comprehensive background and criminal checks for employers that comply with federal and local laws. By helping you eliminate high-risk applicants through tailored solutions, USAFact enables you to create a safe and productive work environment and a foundation for future success.