What, exactly, is a social security number trace, and how does it fit into my screening processes?
TruDiligence Knowledgebase – Background Check Services
The social security number trace may be one of the most misunderstood tools available to TruDiligence clients. This tool is often misused or not used due to misconceptions regarding the source of the information and the appropriate use of the data it provides. The social security number trace does not use the Social Security Administration as a source, nor does it have any connection with the SSA.
The information provided by the social security number trace is derived from a network of hundreds of resources. When an applicant uses his or her social security number for financial or legal transactions, a record of that transaction is kept and uploaded into databases for various uses. Transaction types would include but are not limited to credit card applications, driver’s license applications, home and car loans, department store credit, and phone and cable services.
The information recorded during these transactions includes the name used and the address provided at the time of application. From time to time, you will see additional names show up on your applicant’s social security number trace. Many times, this is the result of data entry error at the database level or, more commonly, from joint applications. If an applicant has filed for joint credit or signed a lease as a co-applicant, it is possible for both names to show on a social security number trace. It also is common that addresses will show on the social security number trace where the applicant did not actually reside. If an applicant used a friend’s, family member’s or other address during the time of the transaction, that is the address that will be linked to the social security number. The social security number trace is NOT an exact residence history.
The purpose of running a social security number trace is to reveal alias names or previous addresses not provided by the applicant. Remember that criminal information is indexed by last name, date of birth and jurisdiction. If the social security number trace reveals aliases or addresses the applicant did not reveal, that should raise concerns and result in a conversation with the applicant. In addition, you may want to order criminal searches for the revealed aliases or jurisdictions. You should NOT deny anyone employment based solely on the addresses and aliases revealed.
In general, as long as the applicant’s information is close, you can make some logical assumptions. For instance, if the applicant indicates that he lived at one address in Ft. Collins, Colo., and the social security number trace reveals three addresses, this is not a concern. Ultimately, we would use the social security number trace to order the correct county-level search (in this case, Larimer County). As long as all the addresses fall within the same jurisdiction, they will have no bearing on the outcome of the criminal search. Common sense is a vital tool when using social security number traces. You should never deny employment based solely on inconsistencies with the social security number trace!
If you have ANY questions about social security number traces, do not hesitate to contact a TruDiligence representative. Understanding the benefits and limitations of the social security number trace is imperative to protect your facility from litigation and shave vital time off your hiring process.
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