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What Is A Person Search?

A person search is a search product that provides current and previous addresses associated with a person’s name, date of birth and Social Security number. The search provides the full addresses and approximate dates the person was associated with in the past.

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Andrew Scott is an owner and principal of Scott-Roberts and Associates, LLC, which is an accredited background screening company awarded by the Background Screening Credentialing Council of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

A person search is a search product that provides current and previous addresses associated with a person’s name, date of birth and Social Security number. The search provides the full addresses and approximate dates the person was associated with in the past. The search will also provide variations of the person’s name being searched. 

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Many dealerships like this type of search product to use in their hiring processes because it reveals the counties in which the applicant lived. Based on the person search, dealership clients may ask for a county search to be conducted of all the counties the person previously lived, generally in the last seven years. Using the person search is an investigatory tool that, when used with other search products, is helpful to identify where the person lived and to direct the background screening company to search the respective county records.

The important words in the previous paragraph are “investigatory tool,” meaning that the accuracy of the person search can have errant information that is not related to the applicant. The origin of the data contained in the person search comes from a myriad of public records and other data sources such as credit card applications, finance applications and loan applications. These data sources may be prone to data entry errors as a result of human error. It is not unusual for a name unrelated to the applicant to appear on the person search report. Also, it is not unusual to see a derivation of the applicant’s name on the person search portion of the report.

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When a dealership considers using a person search to determine previous addresses it is indeed helpful for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is identifying the counties lived in and then conducting a county criminal records search for each county. However, the employer must also realize that the information provided in the person search may be inaccurate. Inaccuracies are usually reported by the applicant to the background screening company once they receive a copy of their background screening report. The background screening company can then correct the information and provide an amended report to the dealership and the applicant. 

There has been a movement in the background screening industry to no longer provide the person search information on the screening report itself. Rather, it has been suggested that a person search be utilized in such a manner to point the background screening company to various counties the person lived to conduct the appropriate county search. This type of search would only be conducted with the authorization of the client.

Keep in mind, there is a similar product that is associated with the credit header of a credit report which provides previous addresses associated with the person’s Social Security number. The credit header is not a full credit report, rather it is a portion of the credit report that reveals previous addresses where the person lived. The search provides far fewer addresses associated with the applicant, but it is inherently more accurate than a person search previously discussed.

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The author of this article is not an attorney and offers no legal advice. The contents of this article should be reviewed by your corporate attorney before taking any action based on its content.

Click here to view more solutions from Andrew Scott and Scott-Roberts & Associates, LLC.

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