Stop False Identification

December 2, 2021

How to Stop False Identification by Background Screeners

What if your background check is the reason a perfectly viable candidate doesn’t get the job or home rental?

Shoddy name-matching procedures have been identified as problematic in recent reports. It happens when an applicant has the same (or similar) name as another person who has a negative credit history and no other identifying factors are used. It’s called false identity matching and it’s not only unethical, but it’s also illegal. The practice “falls well below the statutory mandate” under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The practice of matching solely through names (name-only matching) to run background checks is the problem because thousands or even tens of thousands of people can share similar first and last name combinations. Name-only matching is just as it sounds, using only the consumer’s first and last name to be identical or similar to the names associated with the reported information. The red flag is glaring and the effects can be devastating.

“When background screening companies and their algorithms carelessly assign a false identity to applicants for jobs and housing, they are breaking the law,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “No one should lose out on a job or an apartment because of sloppy and illegal matching. Error-ridden background screening reports may disproportionately impact communities of color, further undermining an equitable recovery.”

The result can be detrimental to landlords, potential tenants, employers, and potential job candidates and especially for people of color. “The risk of mismatching from name-only matching is likely to be greater among Hispanic, Black, and Asian individuals because there is less surname diversity in those populations than among the non-Hispanic white population.1 As a result, these illegal acts further reinforce and exacerbate racial disparities in access to employment and affordable housing,” as reported by the CFPB on November 4, 2021.

Because of this harmful and illegal practice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has put out several press releases and statements in an effort to put an end to it. They are cracking down and asking companies and consumers to report the behavior by submitting a complaint to the CFPB or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

The solution for your business is simple. Before you hire a company to run your background checks, ensure they go beyond name-only matching procedures, using further identifying factors such as an address, date of birth, and social security numbers to ensure maximum accuracy.

What we have discovered is that Per Mar has always taken the position of caution and holds accuracy at the highest level. “We never return a name-only match record and have always included practices of backing up our database searches with real-time court searches. As it turns out we are unique in our industry for this standard operating procedure,” reports Aimie Finck, Assistant Backgrounds Manager here at Per Mar.

As always, we are available as a resource and to protect you and your company from this risky behavior. Give us a call or send us an email to learn more about our in-depth background screening procedures!