Litigation Checks and Civil Record Searches Are Problematic
Searching for civil records and litigation checks can largely be a waste of dollars and time. As a consumer reporting agency (CRA), Reliable Background Screening understands this. Sadly, many other companies will sell civil record searches or litigation searches, while disavowing that they are a CRA. By stating they are NOT a CRA, these other companies sell information essentially as a data dump, and refuse any responsibility for providing either false positives or false omissions.
Many individuals believe there is a “complete litigation” check that is possible. Unfortunately most companies will sell civil court record searches, and not explain the difficulties involved. I prefer to explain the shortfalls of performing civil record searches, so that our clients and prospective clients will understand that even if performed, civil records may be missed.
There is a reason why all three credit bureaus settled a lawsuit and changed the way they report public record information.Below are links to two articles I wrote on this subject. Although these articles focus on the tenant screening industry, the issues exposed involve all users of credit reports. The main take-away here is that civil judgments and litigation checks (which are and start off as civil records) are no longer being reported by the credit bureaus (ever since July 1, 2017). The credit bureaus have done this because they admit that they cannot effectively distinguish if a civil judgment/civil record belongs to any specific individual.
Having stated the above, civil records can be searched, but it is a challenge especially with common names. If there are companies, e.g., previous employers or other specific companies that you are particularly concerned about, it can help refine the search, because then not only the plaintiff (the individual) can be searched, but in combination with the defendant (an employer and/or other company that may be of concern). Note, a civil records search can be performed only on the individual’s name (without a defendant company name), but it is again more difficult to know if you have the “right” person, especially with a common name, and even with not-so-common names.
Further, civil searches must be done at each jurisdiction level, e.g., each county typically. There is no national database that can effectively provide this information. Also, the Federal Court System requires a separate civil records search, in addition to the county civil records search. The number of counties would be based upon addresses uncovered by an Address Locator “Social Search” product and/or if there were specific counties that you or your company deemed significant to research. These civil record searches can become expensive due to the number needed, and no matter what any company does, civil records might still be missed, due to the lack of PII (personally identifiable information, typically no complete Social Security Number and no Date of Birth).
For clients that understand the deficiencies involved with performing civil records searches, we can perform them, although we discourage our clients due to the issues described above. As many counties have public websites, a better solution may be to simply search for civil records yourself, and not hire a third-party company. If you do hire a company, ensure that you use a CRA, because those companies must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (versus non-CRAs that will sell you a data dump).
Rudy Troisi, President Reliable Background Screening
The IFA 2018 Convention
Earlier this month, Reliable Background Screening exhibited at the IFA (International Franchise Association) Annual convention held in Phoenix, Arizona. The IFA’s mission is to deliver real-world positive messages through high-quality content that will propel franchising forward.
We were at the convention to educate attendees about how quality and thorough background screening can help franchises succeed and improve their bottom lines. During the four-day event, we spoke with hundreds of franchise owners, franchise executives, and franchisees. We met many exciting and motivated people and enjoyed seeing many of our clients attending the show.
Being at the show was a great experience. We listened to franchisors who shared with us the challenges they face when screening and selecting potential franchisees who had the highest probability of succeeding. For our part, we gladly and enthusiastically shared with them what we have learned over the past three decades on what they should look for (and how they should look for it) in terms of background checks. We also shared our vast knowledge of employee screening with business owners and executives. – As we all know, hiring well-vetted employees is paramount for a company’s success and the protection of their brand and finances.
During the show, we advertised a limited time offer of waiving all set-up fees for new accounts, including any kind of background screening you might need. This offer was so well received we extended it for a limited time to give those who were unable to attend the 2018 IFA Annual Convention and other IFA members the opportunity to take advantage of it. If you are interested, contact us for details.
ICYMI (In Case You Missed It): The Top 5 Reasons for Franchisors to Thoroughly Background-Check their Franchisees
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