How Date of Birth Redactions Affect the Background Check Process and How Checkr is Helping

December 21, 2021
Checkr Editor

With growing concerns over protection of consumer data over recent years, some state and county courts have made decisions to redact full date of birth from public records. We are already seeing this take effect in some county jurisdictions in Michigan and California, specifically in Los Angeles, the largest county in the state. We are likely to see more counties and states adopt this as consumer privacy remains top of mind.

What does this mean for background check providers?

Prior to this, background check providers were able to use full date of birth, along with other personal identifiable information (PII) such as first and last name, to search for cases related to an individual through public indexes. This means that exact case matches were more easily found and returned, allowing for quicker turnaround times.

With full date of birth redaction, background check providers are reduced to using only partial date of birth, depending on the jurisdiction. This makes it more difficult to find exact matches. Imagine that your candidate is named John Smith and his date of birth is July 1, 1970. With the full date of birth, background check providers would more likely find exact matches given the additional piece of detail about John Smith. Once you remove information⁠—for example, the date⁠—and search for John Smith, born July 1970, that opens your pool of information to include all matches from any John Smith born in the entire month of July.

That ends up returning more records in the search and in some cases, extended turnaround times at the court. Where we see increased bottlenecks are jurisdictions which require court clerks to manually verify information, such as Los Angeles county. When you consider this scenario in such a large county, with a population of over 10 million, you can see how significant the delays can become.

This ultimately applies to all background check providers, as court rulings are applicable to all.

What is Checkr doing?

Checkr is poised to address date of birth redactions in several ways.

  • Checkr was always ready to manage situations where personal identifiable information (PII) is affected and we have seen minimal impacts in reporting records despite the increased turnaround time due to court level constraints. Our identity matching technology is sophisticated, utilizing holistic candidate and record data to create what we call a probabilistic match. Unlike traditional background check providers, without a full date of birth, we are still able to utilize our technology to create probabilistic matches based on additional data available to us. For traditional background check providers with a more straightforward, one-to-one PII matching process who rely more heavily on manual record verification, the removal of full date of birth either significantly delays their turnaround time or puts them at a stop completely, meaning they cannot match nor report records.
  • Because Checkr has historically run so many checks in Los Angeles county, we are able to utilize records found in prior Los Angeles searches, when full date of birth was available, to programmatically confirm newly found records with only partial date of birth. This doesn’t mean we’re providing old or stale records; rather, it means that we’re able to leverage full date of birth information from prior records, funnel it into our identity matching technology (the one that creates probabilistic matching based on all data available to use), and match it to newly found records. Because of this, Checkr is still able to accurately process and match data despite the court slowdowns to get the data.
  • We’re working with the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) to determine legislative routes to appeal the date of birth redactions. Although this is a longer-term effort, we believe it’s important in our ability to serve our customers in the long run.
  • We’re working with our researchers to identify additional ways to increase efficiency with processing potential matches.

    In conclusion

    We’re likely to continue seeing laws put in place to protect consumer data, which ultimately affects all background check providers. We are actively monitoring the changing landscape and feel confident in our ability to adapt so that we continue to provide the highest level of accuracy and quality for our customers.

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