Will the Real John Smith PLEASE Stand Up?
There are about 50,000 John Smith’s in the USA. If you want to know why instant online background check reports are highly inaccurate, try typing in “John Smith” and a random Date of Birth. If one person really had all those cases, they would be put away for life. So what’s the problem? Multiple people have the same or similar legal names with matching (or similar) dates of birth.
To make things more complicated, job candidates try to “beat the background check” by providing misspellings on their background check release forms. “I Was Framed” Story 4 is inspired by a true story behind the scenes at Cluso, a Texas licensed Private Investigation Company.
The Real Story
We were provided a name like “Jon Smith” with a Date of Birth and SSN for an employment screening request. The SSN tracing showed Jon and John. Since tracing data contains errors and John would be a common misspelling for a name like “Jon” we were not particularly alarmed by both name variations showing up. Showing two names in trace doesn’t mean the candidate is trying to deceive anyone about their legal name because the data could be entry errors on various types of applications attached to the social security number.
As a precaution we ran research for both name variations. We found active traffic warrants under “John Smith” matched to his Date of Birth, but there are many John Smiths with the same Date of Birth. To determine if the warrants were matched to our Jon/John Smith, we asked for a copy of the Texas Driver’s License he listed on his background check release form.
In response to our request we received an Oklahoma ID card our Jon/John Smith. We were expecting a TX DL and instead received an OK ID Card. To make things more confusing the OK ID had “Jon Smith” for the name.
Read More Of The Real Story
Now we had a curious situation and a picture from the Oklahoma ID provided. The candidate told us he didn’t have a TX DL but he listed one on the release form. We ran the TX DL from the release form and it was matched to a “John Smith” and it was suspended.
Next we received a mug shot of the person holding the active warrants and the picture matched the person on the Oklahoma ID card. Other conviction cases were found in Dallas County outside of 7 years (we couldn’t report those but that’s another story for another time.) So yes, we were confident the warrants were for our candidate, Jon/John Smith. But, he had a valid Oklahoma ID card and was telling us his name is “Jon Smith” and not “John Smith” on the active warrant. More troubling was he could prove his name was “Jon Smith” and not “John Smith” as the warrant showed.
And this is where we were amazed…
Our client wanted to hire this candidate so much they believed it was an error and he was a different “Jon Smith” (not the same guy as the one with the issued warrants.) Initially our clients tend to believe the candidate because the person appears genuinely confused by our findings. It usually takes a request for fingerprints or pressure for police contact to sort out the issue before a candidate will admit we have figured out the deception.
If a job candidate provides a State ID card instead of a State DL you may want to ensure you thoroughly interview him or her. We have found several instances of State ID cards showing incorrect legal name spellings. If you perform your own reference and employment checks, you may want to ask prior employers to confirm legal name spelling as part of your questions. Legal name spelling is critical to ensuring a background check report is valid.
An investigation layer is essential to getting to the truth about candidates. Without us, a candidate could potentially provide invalid or fraudulent identification and clear on research conducted at the courts. Cross-checking identity is only the first step in determining if cases exist for a job candidate.
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