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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 social security number. The search provides the full addresses and approximate dates the person’s name and social security were associated with a particular location. The search will also provide variations of the person’s name being searched. Many dealerships like this type of search product because it reveals the counties the person lived. Based on the person search, dealership clients ask for a county search to be conducted of all the counties the person lived for 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 word in the previous paragraph was “investigatory” tool meaning, the accuracy of the person search can have errant information that is not related to the applicant one is seeking information on. 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 are prone to data entry errors based upon human error. It is not unusual for a name unrelated to the applicant’s social security number to appear on the consumer report. Also, it is not unusual to see a derivation of the applicant’s name on the person search portion of the report.

When a dealership considers using a person’s social security number to determine previous addresses it is indeed helpful for a variety of reasons, the least of which is identifying the counties the person lived in and then conduct 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. The inaccuracies are usually pointed out by the applicant once they receive a copy of their background screening report whereby the applicant will call the background screening company to file a dispute to get the errant information removed from the report.

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. However, 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 less addresses associated with he applicant, but it is inherently more accurate than a person search previously discussed.

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.

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