Identity Theft In The Background Screening Process

“My Social Security Number is LEGIT!  I bought it yesterday from my sister’s boyfriends cousin….”

We live in an age of identity theft. In fact, 38 percent of victims say the person who stole their identity did it when they got a hold of their social security number. We’re asked to give up those nine digits in nearly every walk of life. Years ago, it was requested on an application I filled out for a video store (remember those?) rental card.   I declined.

There are instances when a social security number is needed. One of those cases is when running a criminal background check on a prospective employee. For a thorough, accurate background check there’s a couple of reasons a social security number is needed.

    The number will create some trust between the applicant and the employer. A valid social security number will prove that the person applying for the job is who they say they are. Running the information can help spot any inaccuracies, fraud or identity theft.
    The SSN will also allow the employment screening agency to find previous addresses the applicant had. That’s because landlords, housing developments and home loans require the number. Having the applicant’s residency history will help narrow down the criminal background check by pinpointing court records in that specific area (county and state). The number helps to insure you’re investigating exactly whom you intend to. Keep in mind though, the number cannot be used to search actual criminal records because in most cases courthouses do not keep that information and use only name and date of birth.

If it’s a “tough sell” to acquire the job applicants SSN, that should be your first RED FLAG.  For the safety of the workplace and your piece of mind as a recruiting or hiring manager, an accurate SSN is a critical step in the employment background check process.

After receiving your final background report from your employment screening vendor – CROSS REFERENCE those results with the information provided by the job applicant on the candidate’s application. If there are inconsistencies, ask the applicant for an explanation.  Sometimes there are legitimate reasons that can be explained away but other times, the social security number being used by the job applicant is in fact, not theirs.

Kandi Chapman, President & Founder
MBI Worldwide Background Checks & Drug Testing