Q&A with Renae Cramphin, Director, Criminal Operation, and Dorinda Funk, Quality Manager, at Wholesale Screening Solutions
James Smith, Michael Smith, Maria Garcia, Mary Smith, Maria Hernandez… These are just a handful of the most common name combinations in America. When it comes to public records research, common names such as these can create situations where we have to take extra steps to obtain additional matching identifiers to ensure that our customer has as much information as possible to determine that the James Smith their customer is interested in is the same James Smith we are looking at in a criminal court record.
We recently spoke with Renae Cramphin, Director, Criminal Operations, and Dorinda Funk, Quality Manager, at Wholesale Screening Solutions to better understand these unique challenges and how we address those challenges in our process.
Q. How do you explain the challenge of common names?
A. When we conduct criminal record research, we use a variety of unique identifiers (such as name, social security number (SSN), address, driver’s license number and date of birth) to ensure that our customer has the most information possible to determine that the criminal court record data we found should be attached to the actual person being screened by our customer. The array of personal identifiers are especially important when we’re dealing with people who share a common name since our customer will use middle name, date of birth, social security number, address history, driver’s license number and the like to ensure they are correctly matching a criminal record to specific individual. The challenge is, today many courts are redacting or partially redacting the additional identifiers our customers need to make a clear match.
Q. How prevalent are common name overlaps?
A. Realistically, at least 50 percent of the cases we work on have some form of common name intersection.
Q. Are there ever circumstances in which the client asks for a re-check?
A. Yes, and this is an important component of our quality program. Our customer may ask for additional information because, for instance, the individual subject of our criminal record research is formally disputing the criminal records as not belonging to them. When we receive a notification of a dispute regarding whether or not a criminal record belongs to a specific individual, we use a variety of tools and artifacts to validate the identifiers in the court record. We will request actual copies of the case from the court to confirm matching identifiers and/or obtain additional matching or non-matching identifiers.
Q. What can customers do to help facilitate common name research requests?
A. Some of our customers provide an address history, driver’s license number and other known identifier with the order, in addition to just name, date of birth and SSN. That practice is very useful to us. This not only improves accuracy; it also dramatically improves turnaround time.
Q. How do your customers deal with these challenges?
A. Given how prevalent the common name issue is, it can be frustrating for customers to wait for common name results to come back. We have empathy for them, but in the end, we have to get the customer the best information available for them to make decisions with.