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What is a Social Security Number Trace?

Stephanie Cook | Uncategorized

Conducting background screenings will not do much good for your company if the identifiers provided for the checks are inaccurate. One typo in the name, date of birth, or social security number could cause a criminal history record to be missed. Whether it is a computer typo, illegible handwriting, willful omission or adulteration, inaccurate identifiers create inaccurate background reports. This is where the Social Security Number Trace comes into play, and why we encourage our clients to include it in any standard or due diligence background check.

The Social Security Number Trace is an invaluable tool for Consumer Reporting Agencies like PSI to locate information that an individual may try to hide or alter when applying for employment. Primarily based on credit header information, meaning the non-financial information found in a credit report such as the name, address, and social security number, the Social Security Number Trace allows background screening firms to connect address history used for credit with the provided social security number. The Social Security Number Trace also draws from other public and private databases that have been collected under one single system. By collecting this data from multiple sources including the federal credit bureaus when available, the Social Security Trace can give us a sound confirmation of the information provided by the job candidate as well as an address history that may be associated with the individual.

As a research tool, the Social Security Number Trace can validate that the information the candidate has provided, such as their name or year of birth, is associated with the given Social Security Number that has been entered. While the trace does not verify the legitimacy of the Social Security Number with the Social Security Administration Office, it does provide basic validation, and ensures that the Social Security Number is not listed on the Master Death Index.

Once the Social Security Number Trace has been processed, we typically know whether the identifying factors that we are working with have been entered incorrectly, be it on purpose or by accident. Ensuring that these identifiers are correct before processing the criminal history searches reduces turnaround time and court costs to our clients.

Since there is no single source repository for criminal history information that is available to all private employers, background screening firms most often look to the jurisdictions of residency for an individual to determine where to search for criminal history records. People can become savvy to this process and may intentionally leave out places they have resided in hopes that criminal record information will not be located. Since the Social Security Number Trace can generate address information associated with the individual, PSI can locate places where the individual may have lived, worked, or passed through and can then determine if a criminal record exists in that county or state.

While the Social Security Number Trace is an invaluable research tool for background screening firms, the information that it provides should not be used in any hiring decisions. The system is not fool proof, as information can be wrongly assigned to an individual, such as jurisdictions and/or alias names. Due to the wide range of databases that are used to collect the information, it is often difficult to re-investigate any inaccuracies. For this reason, we strongly discourage our clients from using any information provided in the Social Security Number Trace to make an adverse decision.

If you are not currently conducting a Social Security Number Trace or are unsure what searches should be included in a due diligence background check, contact PSI at (706) 235-7574 for more information.

*This should not be considered legal advice. As with any issue of legality, we recommend that you contact your corporate attorney to ensure your company is in compliance with the FCRA and applicable state laws.