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May 17, 2016

What Employers Must Know About A Social Security Trace

The Social Security Number Trace, AKA “Alias Search” is a vital step in the background check compliance_rules_background_checkprocess. Employers must understand its advantages as well as its limitations before utilizing it in their hiring process in order to maintain hiring compliance.

A social security trace IS: 

  • A powerful investigative tool that may provide information on an individual’s name, history, present and past addresses, and movement patterns based upon the applicant’s Social Security Number. 
  • A tool to establish an investigative starting point to allow for better management and focus of the overall screening by potentially revealing names and address history not previously disclosed by the applicant under which additional history may exist.  The names may reflect AKA's such as previous legal names, such as maiden names, as well as variations of legal names used.  The address history can sometimes identify jurisdictions used to search for criminal records.
  • A key way to help verify job applicants are who they say they are and ensure that employers are not the victims of fraudulent applications.

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Keep in mind, however, that a social security trace is NOT:

  • a verification that the Social Security Number belongs to that specific person.  It does indicate that a number has been “associated” with that person.  
  • to be considered as part of the consumer report.
  • to be considered as the basis for any employment decision or taking any adverse action.

The Social Security Number Trace includes data obtained from aggregate data from hundreds of different sources. Some of the sources may include: Credit Headers, US Postal Service address forwarding, utility bill records, voter registration records, and others.  The records are assembled and maintained by private sources, and may possibly contain information that is:

  • incorrect
  • incomplete
  • actually belonging to another person. 

Due to the variety of information sources that are subject to error and Data Facts inability to assist a consumer in finding the original source of information that proves to be incorrect, SSN Trace results CANNOT be considered a part of the consumer report and are NOT to be the basis for any employment decisions or taking any adverse action.

Know_the_rules.jpgWhy do employers need this information?

Courts do not share data across jurisdictional boundaries and there is no commercially available national database that holds ALL criminal records associated with an applicant. 

Data Facts suggests using a SSN Trace or Alias search in your background screening process to develop undisclosed names and addresses which will lead to search additional jurisdictions that may have been intentionally omitted from an application.  Sometimes people change their name or use different forms of their name.  This is an important step in the process since those individuals who have been previously convicted may know the limitations of the courts and will intentionally omit those names and addresses that lead to information about their convictions. 


Limitations of this Information

The Social Security Trace is NOT an official confirmation of that applicant's specific number directly from the government and is not an official review of government records (other than the Death Index which is included).  The existence of other names or addresses on social security trace does not necessarily mean a consumer is the victim of identity theft, but a consumer may well want to order their free annual credit report in order to ensure that their identity is not being used fraudulently.

It's vital for employers to create and implement a secure and thorough background screening process while simultaneously maintain hiring compliance. Contact Data Facts for additional information on the social security trace and its role in your background screening process. 

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